I got acne overnight at 23 and it was so bad I couldn't leave the house – but controversial drug cleared my skin

A WOMAN was blighted by adult acne for nearly seven years has revealed how a controversial drug cleared her skin.

Lucy Arnold, from Derbyshire, struggled to leave the house during her battle with spotty skin, which forced her to miss a friend's wedding and "turned her into a hermit".

Lucy's skin erupted overnight at the age of 23 – despite her spending her teenage years blemish-free – leaving her practically housebound and in tears about her acne every day.

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous Digital, Lucy, now 29, said: "I first broke out when I was 23.

"I was referred to a dermatologist by my GP who confirmed it was adult acne and they said sometimes it just happens overnight.I’ve never had a clear picture as to why it happened."

Lucy, who lives with her boyfriend Adrian in Hathersage, Peak District, added: "It turned me into a hermit.

"I missed a friend’s wedding last year because my skin was just so bad and sore. I couldn’t face putting make-up on it or leaving the house."

Her shame was made worse by cruel comments from strangers – which left her feeling heartbroken.

Lucy said: “One day, I was training at the gym and a woman in the changing room said to me ‘how do you deal with your face looking like that?’

"I’m sure she didn’t mean it in the way it sounded – but I was heartbroken.

I missed a friend’s wedding because my skin was so bad and sore. I couldn’t face leaving the house

“Another time, I was in Boots and a little girl asked her mum what was wrong with my face. The woman told her daughter it was because I didn’t wash my face, which is why she should wash hers.

"I remember getting in my car and crying and crying – my skin was really sore at the time and the tears really hurt.

"It makes me want to cry now just talking about it. Sometimes I can be really mentally strong with it, but sometimes I can’t.”

The condition hasn't just affected Lucy's personal life, but her work too.

The founder of activewear brand Lucy Locket Loves, Lucy was shortlisted as NatWest's Young Entrepreneur of the Year and won Woman's Running Activewear Brand of the Year.

But she shunned the ceremonies and hasn't collected any of her awards in person.

She said: “Technically I’m quite a successful person and I’ve won some great awards but I’ve always felt I’d be judged on how I look.”

I was in Boots and a little girl asked her mum what was wrong with my face. The woman told her daughter it was because I didn’t wash

At her wit's end, Lucy decided to give controversial drug Roaccutane a try – potentially risking her mental and physical health to do so.

In 2011, 24-year-old Brit Jesse Jones took his life while on the drug and it was reportedly linked to 20 suicides in the UK between 2012 and 2014. 

It can also have a severe impact on the liver.

But it's also responsible for seemingly miraculous skin transformations – and Lucy felt she had exhausted all other options.

She said: "At first I thought a course of antibiotics would clear it up or it would sort itself out, but that wasn’t the case – it turned into years of constantly being an issue.

"You name it, I’ve probably tried it – I’ve been on a gluten-free diet, low FODMAP diet, I’ve been vegan and I’ve been vegetarian.

"I tried everything for six months at a time to see if it made a difference, but it didn’t.

"Everyone was telling me to go vegan and if anything my skin was at its worst when I was vegan."

Roaccutane: an expert's opinion

Skin doctor Dr Ross Perry, who leads a team of experts at Cosmedics Skin Clinics, told Fabulous Digital:

Roaccutane is a prescription medication used for resistant acne when other treatments such as antibiotics have failed. It is an isotretinoin which is a potent derived from a type of vitamin A.

It works by reducing the sebum and glandular activity that is responsible for causing the blocked pores and production of pus.

Common side effects include dry mouth, eyes and skin, headaches and nausea.

Rarely it has been linked with increased risk of depression. It is a complex medication and as such needs specialist supervision.

It is known to have increased risk in suicide in people who are susceptible to depression and as such careful consideration needs to go into who it will benefit.

It is not a quick fix and you often need to take it for three to six months to get the best outcomes and hopefully reduce the risk of recurrence.

It is not a cure but a way of managing resistant acne that causes scarring. The side effects can be intolerable for some and so there is a chance they may not be able to stay on it.

She added: “I’d exhausted all options – it was this or nothing. The side effects are horrific.

"The joint pain makes you feel like you’ve got the worst chest infection ever. Your lips pretty much fall off your face – I have nipple cream with me all the time because it’s the only thing that helps.

"Lip balm just doesn’t work. It was like I was going to war this time.”

But within six months, Lucy's acne had completely vanished.

She said: “For me the benefits outweigh the side effects. I’m not feeling anxious about my skin anymore.

"There’s a lot of stigma behind this drug causing depression, but I think there’s also a big link between people who suffer from bad skin and depression, anxiety and suicide.

“If my acne comes back, I’m fairly adamant that I won’t do a third course, but at this moment in time I feel great.”

Lucy is now hoping she's banished acne for good.

She said: “The glimmer in my eye and my smile says it all and I want to give hope to other women.

"Hopefully I’ll never need another dermatology referral again.”

We previously reported on a woman whose acne was so bad she couldn’t EAT who went out without make-up for the first time ever – after finally embracing her skin.

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