A mum who felt “like a monster” and even hid her face from her daughter when an attack of cystic acne refused to respond to antibiotics is finally able to leave the house after her mother treated her to an £85 “miracle cure.”
Suffering with cystic acne for 10 years, legal PA Jaime Graves, 42 – who believes the pus-filled pimples that form deep under the skin were first triggered by hormonal changes in her early 30s – had always been able to clear her complexion with antibiotics.
But when a break out covered her face in January 2022, after she had tested positive for Covid, single mum Jaime – who lives in Houghton Conquest, Bedfordshire, with her daughter, Freya, 13 – says her usual prescription had no effect.
Even hiding her face under make up from Freya, it was not until her mum, Susan, 68, a retired secretary, bought her a skin care bundle after reading about its properties, that Jaime says her spots started to disappear, adding: “My mental health was so low earlier in the year.
“I hated my face to the point where I didn’t want anyone else to see it.
“I can’t believe I’m now freely leaving the house whenever I want to and I even joined a work video call the other day completely make up free, which is something I never would have done before.”
Jaime’s first acne attack happened in puberty, when she was 13.
She said: “I had acne as a teenager, like loads of people do at that age. It didn’t really bother me and I grew out of it.
“Throughout my adult life, I’ve been quite prone to getting spots here and there, but it was always manageable and nothing that a bit of foundation couldn’t hide.”
But in 2012, Jaime’s skin began to get worse.
She said: “I suffered a really bad outbreak across my face that wouldn’t go away. I went to the doctor’s and they told me I had cystic acne.
“I was given antibiotics which calmed my skin down. Over the last 10 years I’ve only had two bad outbreaks of cystic acne and both times antibiotics prescribed by my GP have done the trick to fix it.”
She added: “My skin has always been my biggest insecurity, but the antibiotics made it manageable.”
That was until January 2022, when Jaime came down with Covid.
She said: “I was under the weather for a few days, but the worst side effect I suffered from Covid was another cystic acne outbreak.”
She added: “It was so bad that my skin was red raw and so sore. I had bumps of cysts across my face. I felt like a monster.”
As with previous outbreaks, Jaime made a GP appointment once she tested negative for Covid.
She said: “I was prescribed antibiotics, which normally take a couple of weeks to take effect. After a fortnight though, there were no improvements. I felt helpless.”
Not knowing what to do to solve the issue, Jaime admits she did not want to be seen by anyone until her skin was clear.
She said: “I bought different skincare products and got in touch with experts, but nothing seemed to be working.
“I didn’t leave the house for around five or six weeks because I was so embarrassed about my face.”
She added: “I made excuses not to meet friends and worked from home on days when I should have been in the office.
“The only trip outside I would take was to do the school run, but even then, I wouldn’t get out of the car.
“I did all my food shopping online and would wait for the delivery driver to step back before opening the door, in the hope that they wouldn’t be close enough to my face to see how bad it was.”
She eventually became so self-conscious that she did not even want her daughter to see her face.
She said: “I didn’t want her to see how red and sore it was. I looked like a monster, it was horrible.
“Even though I knew it would make things worse, I would put make up on upstairs, so I was covered up in front of her. She even caught me doing it at one point and asked me why.”
She added: “I didn’t know what to say. I was just at my lowest point and my skin was drastically affecting my confidence and mental health.”
At the end of April 2022, Jaime’s mum offered to buy her a skincare bundle from a firm called Bedew, costing £85.
She said: “My mum could see how badly affected I was by my skin and she said she’d do anything to help me.”
She added: “She purchased a Bedew essentials kit which she had read good reviews of and came with an almond oil cleanser, moisturiser, hyaluronic hydrator, enzyme peel, SPF face cream, and a cloth, and she also got me a pink clay mask.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect it to work, because I’d given up hope at that point.
“But I decided to give it a go.”
Jaime used the products as part of her morning and evening skincare routine and was shocked at how soon she noticed results.
She said: “I noticed a change within about two weeks. My skin was so much more hydrated, the lumps had started reducing and so had the redness. My skin around my eyes was also improving, I was elated.
“At last, something was working and I thought I might be able to have a life again and feel confident enough to go out and just be me.”
She added: “When I went back to work my close colleague commented on how much better my skin was looking and could see that it was making a difference to my self-esteem.
“It wasn’t an overnight fix and I have continued taking my antibiotics along with the skincare products, but it gave me the confidence to keep going with it and the results have given me my life back.
“I am now able to go out with minimal make up on. I am also happy not to wear make up in front of my daughter.”
She added: “I’m so much happier and, finally, feel I can get over the trauma of Covid and what it did to my skin.”
Jaime says her newfound confidence has also helped her to become closer to her daughter.
She said: “My daughter has noticed a such a big improvement in my mood and mental health.”
She added: “I’m a fun mum again. We do fun things together and I don’t let anything hold me back.
“I still get the odd spot from time to time, but nothing like the cystic acne outbreaks I was getting before.
“This treatment has really changed my life.”