How To: Kill Off Bacne

female back

Usually, I'm very much a peace-lovin', why-can't-we-all-just-get-along kind of gal. But lately I've been feeling increasingly murderous... towards my own feckin' back. It had become, quite frankly, disgusting in the last couple of months. No, it hadn't taken to swearing like a fishwife or leaving its dirty jocks around the house. It'd gotten spotty. Really spotty. The kind of cystic-looking spots that hurt like hell even when they're not touched and hurt like hell hooked up to a particularly malicious medieval torture device should they be grazed by a top or - especially ouchy - a bra strap.

I'd tried exfoliating religiously, which resulted in no improvement whatsoever, using tea tree and clay-based shower gels, to the same non-effect, and gave sprays and masks and tea tree oil itself and unctions made out of unicorn smiles and the laughter of fairies a whirl.

Nothing. Nada. Nowt.

Absolutely miserable about the awful state of my back, I mentioned it to my doctor on my last visit, and she said she'd take a look at it if I liked. The implication from her tone and the look on her face was clear: silly girl freaking out about a few wee pimples! Well I tell you what, that wasn't what she was saying after she took a peek: "Oh... ok, that's quite bad... well at least there's no scarr... oh, there is. Right." I was dispatched to the chemist to pick up a bottle of the super-sexy sounding Acnesol Topical Acne Medication Cleanser (2% salicylic acid) and a tube of PanOxyl 5 Acne Gel (5% benzoyl peroxide) toot sweet, with instructions to use as directed on the labels and keep her posted if there was no improvement in 4-6 weeks.


It's now 3 weeks on, and while my back is not yet perfectly smooth and totally blemish free it is markedly improved. Thank. Feck. The spots themselves are clearing up really well, the angry redness has all but subsided completely, and I am hopeful that I will someday be able to wear backless dresses without having to staple a cardigan on over them, and be able to walk out of a room like a normal person instead of backing out, not wanting Himself to see the extent of the grossness. So I would wholeheartedly recommend trying a course of Acnesol wash and 5% PanOxyl (both available from pharmacies without prescription and about 7 quid each or thereabouts) if you find nothing else is shifting stubborn bacne.

Two caveats, though, in case you thought it all sounded too good to be true: Acnesol is very, very drying. It's supposed to be used twice or three times daily on affected areas, but I found that I had to step back to just using it once a day because it was making any millimetre of skin that wasn't taking the form of a big ugly spot super-dry and itch like crazy. PanOxyl, meanwhile, will ruin coloured fabrics. Even if you let it dry completely before getting into your jim-jams. I can tell you that I was super, super careful, and still ended up with a bleached back to my very favourite David and Goliath pyjamas. Bah!

Sure it'll all be worth it when I can wear fabilis little sundresses to bask in the glory of this magnificent Irish summer that's coming our way, wha'?

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