Isabella wants to be positive about her skin (Picture: Jam Press)
At just nine years old, Isabella developed a large spot under her eyebrow and little ‘bumps’ under the skin on her forehead.
As she got older, the skin problems worsened and her self-esteem plummeted as other people would constantly comment on her appearance.
Now 22, the social and website manager from Kent, has spent years trying to deal with her acne and found medication made it go away for four years.
But in early 2020, the acne came back all over her face, shoulders, back and neck and she couldn’t take the same tablets due to other health problems.
Now, she’s decided she doesn’t want her skin to affect how she lives her life anymore and has started an Instagram page to share photos of herself.
‘The first time I noticed my skin changing was when a large spot appeared right next to my eyebrow,’ she said.
‘I quickly developed lots of little bumps under the skin on my forehead – which I now know is fungal acne.
‘It was a bit confusing but my parents were amazing at explaining to me what was going on and assuring me it would go by the time I was a teenager.’
One of the first photos she shared on Instagram (Pictures: Jam Press)
When she was 11, her parents took her to see a doctor, who advised that the condition was linked to her hormone levels.
Isabella was diagnosed with severe cystic acne and began a course of antibiotics. She continued with different medication until the age of 17 but nothing worked.
She said: ‘Whenever I didn’t wear makeup on the street people would stare.
‘People that didn’t even know me would look at my face to the extent that I felt I needed to wear makeup constantly.
‘But even when I wore makeup you could still see all the lumps and bumps, and with that came the unsolicited advice of people telling me to wash my face more, drink more water and offering terrible solutions that made me more self-conscious.
She now posts images of her skin, with and without makeup on Instagram (Picture: Jam Press)
‘Looking back, it’s as if I would try and live my life and forget about it, but it was the opinions and stares from others that made me feel like something was wrong.’
It affected her self-confidence and she became very withdrawn.
After nothing else worked, she was prescribed Roaccutane at 17 – medicine often used to treat severe acne.
She said: ‘There were potential side-effects but I was at such a desperate point that I saw no other options.
‘I feel very lucky that my experience with Roaccutane was really positive – it cleared my skin totally and allowed me to turn 18 and live more freely.
‘I was always conscious of my skin but having no acne at that time allowed me to grow in confidence a lot more.’
For four years, her skin was much better, with just a few spots here and there and some remaining scarring.
At the start of 2020, Isabella’s acne returned on her face as well as extended over to her arms, shoulders, back and neck.
She wasn’t able to take Roaccutane again due to other medical problems unrelated to her skin.
But this time Isabella was determined not to let her skin rule her life again.
Isabella now (Picture: Jam Press)
She said: ‘I knew there was absolutely no way I could let acne or other people’s opinions rule my life any longer.
‘Acne doesn’t define me and is such a minor part of who I am – I have achieved so many things despite having acne so I refused to let it hold me back anymore.’
She made an Instagram account (@spottylittlething) in July this year to share her story with other acne-sufferers.
Despite being bombarded with unsolicited advice and cruel comments like ‘stop f***king up body positivity’, she says the negative comments don’t phase her and she even feels pity for the naysayers, who she immediately blocks.
She added: ‘I wanted to prove to myself that I wouldn’t let acne control me and I wanted to show others that you can still love yourself and live a wonderful life with acne.
‘Having acne is normal – it’s not dirty or bad. Sharing that on my account has made me so much more confident and I now care even less about my skin.
‘It’s so fulfilling and heart-warming to connect every day with people who say I have helped them love themselves.
‘Everything I do on social media is focused on positivity and a greater good, so even if I reach one troll the chances are I’ve also reached five people who the post has helped.
‘I am the happiest and most fulfilled I have ever felt in my life so negative opinions only really spur me on.
‘We get told acne is bad but I think that’s because we don’t see it enough – the more we see acne, the more it is normalised.’