By Alyce Collins
THIS MAN’S acne developed into rosacea and a plethora of other diseases that lasted for FOURTEEN YEARS after doctors prescribed him with steroids that he has now ditched along with the rat race and an unhealthy diet for a life in THAILAND.
Former designer Matt Hess (27) from Surrey, UK, started getting acne at just 13 and after years of struggling with his skin, he was prescribed antibiotics and steroid creams at 21 in the hopes of healing his dermatitis.
Matt’s inflamed skin was a result of poor diet, lifestyle and having a genetic disadvantage making him prone to skin problems, all of which doctors overlooked. The medical treatments which he was prescribed only led to further complications.
After taking antibiotics, Matt began experiencing digestive problems, food intolerances, rosacea and sinus problems. The deteriorating condition of Matt’s skin led to heightened anxiety because of the way people would stare at his face and question his appearance.
After realising that the treatment was the cause for his painfully inflamed skin and digestive problems, Matt got rid of the treatment and began to heal holistically instead. It took 18 months for any sign of progress to arise but now Matt is mostly recovered after detoxing his body of the steroid residue.
In 2018, Matt quit his job and moved to Thailand, where the warmer climate and stress-free way of life are aiding his recovery. Now, Matt hopes to educate others on the effects of taking prescription medication too leniently after enduring topical steroid withdrawal.
“I first noticed that something was wrong as soon as I saw my first cluster of acne in the mirror when I was around 13,” said Matt.
“After a year or two of trying face washes I was prescribed a course of doxycycline, followed by a course of tetracycline when I was 15.
“The problem is, while antibiotics kill the infections, they also kill the good bacteria, which are critical for overall health. So, by killing them off, you’re putting your long-term health at risk.
“They can severely negate your ability to process and digest food and therefore create a knock-on effect on the rest of your body. The immune system weakens, and the toxins build up, leading to widespread inflammation.
“If you have a life-threatening illness or infection, by all means take antibiotics. But if you have skin disease, it’s completely the wrong approach.
“It surprises me how irresponsible it is of doctors to give out antibiotics so freely and it just shows how little they take the overall health of a patient into account.
“After taking the antibiotics, I started to have gut issues, reactions to food, fatigue, depression, anxiety, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and the nose, ear and throat issues I already had got worse.
“When I was 21, I started to get dermatitis and was prescribed hydrocortisone steroid creams. The issue with the steroid creams is that they will provide some short-term relief, but the symptoms will come back, progressively worse, the more you use them.
“They suppress your immune system, so your body’s defences are weakened and your toxic load builds up.
“My social anxiety was a big problem which went hand in hand with the physical symptoms. I’ve only recently started to get over it.
“Recently when I was going through the withdrawal, a man on the train told me I looked like a zombie and told me to get off the train. People also used to stare at me in public a lot.
“I went to the doctor a few times and it made everything more confusing whenever I did. Each time I would get a different diagnosis – rosacea, eczema or seborrheic dermatitis. I was just told to come back in three months and if the first treatment hadn’t worked then there’d be another one to try.
“Besides the issue with the doctors and dermatologists, I also had myself to blame. Apart from the fact that I clearly have a genetic disposition to skin disease as my mum and granddad both had eczema, I lived a highly stressful lifestyle.
“I washed my face with abrasive products and applied harsh lotions every day to try to combat the symptoms, which damaged the skin barrier quite a bit. My diet was dreadful as I’d eat ready meals, processed foods, energy drinks and no fruit or vegetables.
“I didn’t drink much water, did little exercise and was constantly stressed from university and work. It was all these aspects of life coming together to create a recipe for disaster.”
Matt stopped taking the medically prescribed treatments in 2017 and decided to treat his skin disease holistically through a plant-based diet and a positive lifestyle.
Despite stopping the treatments, Matt’s skin only showed signs of improvement roughly 18 months afterwards because it took many months for his body to completely rid itself of the steroids.
Recently, Matt decided to quit his job and explore a new lifestyle in Thailand and has been living there for 6 months. The warmer climate and increased vitamin D have inevitably helped Matt’s skin heal further.
“It only started improving recently, about 18 months after I began the topical steroid withdrawal,” said Matt.
“I would say that this was mainly down to the amount of time I’ve allowed my body to heal and rid itself of all the steroid residue, as well as being consistent with diet, exercise, stress management and avoiding toxic things.
“On top of a plant-based diet, I do a number of other things including exercising daily to promote cardiovascular health, sweating and detoxification. I drink lots of clean water, about two to three litres a day, and I also just try to think positively and appreciate life as much as possible.
“I quit my job and moved to Thailand which has been a big part of this journey – escaping the non-stop working lifestyle that we’re all caught up in and giving myself time to take care of myself.
“The rate at which I’m able to sweat here in Thailand, even with minimal exertion, has been a game changer. Sweating really aids detoxification so the more you can sweat, the better.
“I’m still not 100 per cent healed but I’m really getting there, and my mental health is better than it’s ever been. I can interact with people confidently without worrying about how I look.
“To anyone prescribed medical treatment, throw them in the bin and start the withdrawal as soon as possible. You must accept that you’ve got to go through it no matter what else you’ve got going on.
“It will be one of the most challenging things you ever have to go through, but you will come out of the other side stronger, wiser and healthier. It’s opened up a whole new perspective and career path for me as I am training to become a nutritionist.
“If you suffer from skin disease then throw out all those creams and medications. I’m not denying that they can help people with other problems, but they’re just a middle man between you and an industry that wouldn’t be making money if you weren’t sick. Start supporting yourself, not them.
“The amount of times I was sat in the doctor’s office with a burning red face and I was told there was no cure and I’d need prescriptions for the rest of my life.
“I took control of my life by addressing my lifestyle and this is the only permanent way of treating most cases of the disease. It lit the fire beneath me to take back control of my life, so I hope others can do the same.”
You can find out more by checking out Matt’s Instagram, @hess91_