By Rebecca Drew
HIDING behind makeup wasn’t an option for this woman after her skin broke out in painful acne at the age of TWENTY-FIVE even after a doctor said it wouldn’t make her ‘CATASTROPHIC SITUATION’ any worse – but she’s determined to help other sufferers by sharing her bare face with the world.
Like many teenagers during puberty, office clerk, Bianca Jantscher (25) from Graz, Austria, started to breakout in spots and always made sure her pimples were covered with makeup when she left the house.
When Bianca had her first boyfriend at 15, she was prescribed contraceptive pill, Diane, which also helped skin problems. Within weeks of taking the pill, she noticed that her skin had improved significantly, and she no longer felt like she had to cover up.
After being on the pill for almost 10 years in October 2018 Bianca noticed that she had been suffering from mood swings, felt overwhelmed with life and was constantly stressed and restless. After researching her symptoms in relation to the pill, she decided to stop taking it. Within weeks Bianca’s mood improved and she recognised her old positive self return.
Bianca knew that her skin might get worse after coming off the pill and in January 2019 noticed her first spots appear before her skin flared painfully in March which left her skin feeling deformed. Bianca tried to offset her acne with manuka honey face masks, not touching her face and changing her towels and pillowcases daily, but to no avail.
Bianca was diagnosed with acne conglobate, a rare and cystic acne, and was asked by doctors why she didn’t take the pill and was prescribed various courses of cortisone pills and antibiotics in an attempt to clear her skin. By May 2019, there had been no improvement to Bianca’s skin and it was suggested she tried isotretinoin, a drug with lots of side effects which is sometimes used to treat certain cancers.
After reading the side effects, Bianca decided against medication and decided to accept her acne in the hopes of being able to heal naturally. Bianca started her Instagram page and has been proudly sharing pictures of her acne to encourage other women to love themselves for who they are.
She’s received nothing but positivity and support online but in real life she has had a colleague joke that she wouldn’t want to look like Bianca when she comes off the pill and even had a doctor tell her that wearing makeup wouldn’t make her ‘catastrophic situation’ any worse – but Bianca has the inner strength to continue embracing her skin.
“The first thing I noticed when I started taking the pill was that my skin problems, which I was struggling with during puberty, improved quickly. I took the pill for almost 10 years and noticed for the first time during the last year, that I suffered more and more often from extreme mood swings and that I wasn’t resilient,” said Bianca.
“I would constantly feel restless and stressed. Simple things in everyday life overwhelmed me and I always had the feeling that I didn’t get everything done in time. I was suddenly overwhelmed by different situations around me and I often responded with a behaviour that seemed strange to me. I felt like I could not escape from them. I was in a negative mood in the morning and wasn’t able to get rid of it during the day – but there wasn’t any obvious reason for my mood.
“When I made the decision that I wouldn’t take the pill any longer, it was as if a stone was taken off my heart. Although taking the pill was always my own choice for contraception, I suddenly felt relieved and at peace. After only three weeks I felt much better.
“Of course, since I learnt what could happen with your body if you stop taking the pill, I knew my skin would get worse. It took around three months for my skin to change and become increasingly impure. I had expected this and tried from the beginning to take action against the impurities using all the natural things that I could think of.
“When the acne broke out and I was struggling with pain, I was overwhelmed with the situation. I wanted to hide and stop the time. I wondered why it just struck me when I have always eaten healthy food, I don’t drink alcohol and I never smoked. I began to compare myself to others and of course it took some time for me to accept this condition and leave those negative and wrong thoughts behind me.
“When I went to the doctor, I was shocked that there were no other approaches other than remedies that would have caused further damage to my body and could only perhaps improve my skin appearance for a short time.
“I quickly learned that you must take responsibility for yourself and your own body. That you must be careful and not trust everyone blindly, and you need to question everything in order to be able to understand things and to form your own opinion. I believe that listening to your own body is always the right way.
“After the first shock, when my acne started, I quickly realised that hiding isn’t an option. I wanted to share my journey on Instagram although I still don’t know where this will take me. I never expected to get so much positive feedback and tips and to get to know people with similar experiences.
“On Instagram, I haven’t received a single negative message and in real life there were two statements, which I guess, I will remember forever. The first time I went to see a doctor, I mentioned that I’m trying to not wear makeup, and he assured me that makeup could hardly worsen the already catastrophic situation.
“At that time, his words hit, because at the beginning of my acne I was struggling to accept my situation anyway. The second memorable moment was when a colleague told me that she is also planning to drop the pill and that she really hopes not to look like me in the end.
“Of course, I know that no one wants acne, but this statement was like a slap in my face. I think that many people forget what a psychological burden a skin disease like this brings and the strength it requires to not give up and show your face every day to the world.”
Some people were surprised that Bianca’s acne returned after she stopped taking the pill but her friends and family have been supportive of her.
After having tried clay and manuka honey face masks, Bianca is now focussing on healing her skin from the inside out through nutrition and drinks lots of herbal teas and lemon water.
“Hardly anyone believed that my skin was actually getting worse by stopping the pill. Many could not even identify it as acne and could not believe or even understand my stories,” she said.
“I currently refrain from all products that support inflammation and develop acne. I currently refrain from gluten, dairy products, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, red meat, ‘nightshade’ foods like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant, corn and sunflower oil, vinegar and sour fruit. I don’t eat heavily processed food or fast food.
“Any photo showing my acne in full splendour is worth posting if it encourages a young girl to love herself as God created her. That’s one of those thoughts that keeps me here continuing to share my story, even though I’m still in the middle of it and that it would probably be easier to talk about it if I had already overcome the acne, or if I already knew the solution to heal it.
“Stay true to yourself, whichever way you choose. Listen to your body, give it time and all the love you can raise because we have only one body available in this life. Go out and enjoy life, no matter what skin you’re in.
“Don’t take yourself too seriously, because anyone who can laugh at themselves has already won. Don’t hide, just because you look or speak different, or pursue other goals than your fellow human beings. Make the most of every situation.
“Own all the feelings that life holds for you and grow a little bit with every new challenge. Leave your comfort zone – as I did when I shared my first picture with a face full of acne on Instagram.”
For more information see https://www.instagram.com/haut.gefluester/