THIS woman was so embarrassed by her acne that she refused to leave the house, pulled a sickie and didn’t go back to the office for almost two months.
Software developer Oonagh McLaughlin, 25, noticed a change in her skin in April 2019 when she broke out in vicious spots and cysts on her face.
Concerned by how rapidly it had developed, the Derry woman first visited her GP in May 2019, but doctors were unable to properly diagnose her condition.
She was prescribed birth control pills and antibiotics in the hope that they would put a stop to the condition, but nothing worked. Ashamed of how her skin looked, Oonagh became a recluse.
In June 2019 she went to Kingsbridge private hospital in Belfast where dermatologists diagnosed her with rosacea fulminans – a rare inflammatory dermatology disease that mostly affects women.
She said: “I felt really paranoid and hated leaving the house and having to cover my skin in makeup.
“I kept apologising for my skin and feeling the need to explain it to people which completely ruined my confidence. I stopped going to my boyfriend’s house, didn’t go on nights out and events and even missed my nephew’s first birthday party.
“It felt like my face just exploded. I took a week off work sick then worked from home for nearly two months.
HOME FOR NEARLY TWO MONTHS
“They (doctors) thought it was impetigo at the start, then thought it was a viral infection.
“No one was able to tell me whether it was stress, hormones, products I was using or something I was eating.”
Oonagh was prescribed with Roaccutane, a highly controversial drug with mood-altering side effects.
“I was really nervous about taking Roaccutane as it’s such a talked about drug because of the negative side effects,” said Oonagh.
“It was my last option after spending hundreds of pounds on skincare and taking several different antibiotics.”
The drugs prescribed to her began to take effect within two months and she saw a noticeable difference in her condition.
Now her skin is clear, Oonagh is passionate about sharing her story and highlighting the lack of support that is available for those suffering with acne.
Sharing her experiences has also allowed her to feature in a campaign with major beauty brand ‘Bare Minerals’.
“Even a mild form of acne can badly affect people’s mental health and there just isn’t enough support out there,” said Oonagh.
“My family, friends and boyfriend felt very helpless when I was at my lowest as there was nothing they could do to help, and they didn’t know where to turn for advice.
“When you are going through what I experienced you think there is no end in sight, but you have to realise that nothing lasts forever and there is always light at the end of the tunnel.”