A 24-year-old woman says she faces daily torment online after bravely showing off her acne – which leaves her in so much pain that she has been pushed to tears while washing her face.
Speaker, influencer, and entrepreneur Mikayla Zazon, 24, from Columbus, Ohio, developed acne as a teenager which left her feeling incredibly self-conscious.
Her parents took her to the dermatologist and she was prescribed various topical creams and oral medication in an attempt to soothe her skin – which worked.
Inspiration: 24-year-old influencer Mikayla Zazon, from Ohio, has suffered with painful cystic acne since she was a teenager – however she has become an inspiration to others online
Battle: The influencer’s acne made her incredibly self conscious and left her in agony – but she eventually decided to fight her fears and start sharing images of her bare skin online
Journey: Mikayla’s acne was first triggered after she completed a recovery program for her eating disorder
Painful: She has cystic acne across her face, shoulders, chest, and back – however she no longer allows it to stop her from showing off her skin
At 17, Mikayla developed disordered eating and exercise habits and over the course of six years struggled with binge eating disorder, orthorexia and bulimia.
When she finished her recovery in April last year, she noticed that her skin started breaking out in painful cystic acne which left her in agony.
Mikayla’s acne affected her face, chest, back, and shoulders – and started to impact her daily life.
She’d divert eye contact to stop people looking at her face, and would wake up in the morning praying that her skin wouldn’t look as painful as it felt.
The influencer also became paranoid about what those around her would think and she would wash her face multiple times a day – despite the pain it cause her – in the hopes that if she scrubbed hard enough, she would be gifted with a new face and skin.
Fed up with hiding her skin and living in fear of what others might think, Mikayla decided to share acne positive pictures on her social media to break the stigma surrounding skin conditions.
Since doing so, she has been overwhelmed by positive messages from people telling her she’s inspired them to embrace the natural skin they’re in, but despite the positive reaction, Mikayla has also been subjected to nasty messages from bullies online who have told her, ‘You are an acne infected f**k.’
Treatment: Mikayla’s acne was so painful that she had to ice her skin multiple times a day, and she would be left in tears whenever she washed her face
Looking ahead: The online star recently started a course of the controversial acne drug Accutane, and has seen a huge improvement in her skin
Candid: While her skin may be improving, Mikayla is still passionate about promoting natural beauty online, and she continues to share images that she hopes will inspire others
Message: Mikayla, who turned to therapy to deal with her self confidence struggles, said, ‘I [have] learned that if someone is bothered by my skin, it’s a reflection of them and not me’
Thankfully for Mikayla, this just inspires her to keep spreading her skin positive message.
Mikayla started Accutane, a medication used to treat acne, earlier this month which has helped ease her skin which she often had to soothe with ice multiple times a day before. Despite this, she’s still passionate about normalizing acne.
‘Having painful skin stopped me from getting out of the house. I cried as I was washing my face so many times and tried so hard to make it go away. I felt so disappointed in myself and my body,’ said Mikayla.
‘Before Accutane, my face hurt to touch because of how inflamed it was. I had to ice my face multiple times a day. I can’t remember a life without acne on my face.’
However Mikayla’s decision to start taking the drug has seen her face criticism from her Instagram followers, many of whom have sent her ‘unsolicited DMs’ about the dangerous side effects – which include everything from raw, chapped skin to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
‘In my experience, not trying Accutane and instead living with painful cysts on my back, shoulders, chest, and face is far, far worse,’ Mikayla said of the feedback she has been sent online.
‘I’d be constantly diverting eye contact to take people’s gaze away from my face; waking up hoping that when I look to the mirror it wouldn’t look as painful as it felt; wondering what the person behind me may be thinking whilst standing in line; shying away from significant others when they start scratching my back; screaming at myself in the mirror saying, “Why me?” and washing my face hoping that when I’m done, I’ll have a new face and new skin.
‘I’ve worked through a lot of mental struggles that come with having acne through therapy. I learned that if someone is bothered by my skin, it’s a reflection of them and not me. My confidence didn’t come from clear skin – it came from doing the inner work.
Controversy: After Mikayla revealed that she had started taking Accutane, she faced criticism online from Instagram followers who warned of the drug’s potentially dangerous side effects
Choice: Despite this, Mikayla says ‘not trying Accutane and instead living with painful cysts on my back, shoulders, chest, and face is far, far worse’
Fight: Mikayla also receives cruel messages and comments from online trolls who say horrible things about her skin and her appearance
‘About a year ago I remember saying to myself, ‘I know other people are struggling with this alone, too. I have to talk about it to break the stigma.’ So, I started talking about the stigma that acne has and how it’s affected my life in very big ways.
‘I remember fighting with myself about whether or not to post it [the first bare-faced selfie]. It was so difficult. I wanted to hide, but I know that shame hides in secrecy so I closed my eyes and just hit post.
‘Every single day I receive hateful messages. I think the worst DM I’ve ever received is, “You are an acne infected f**k.”
‘Thankfully I was in a good mental state and I used it as fuel to keep posting more about acne.
‘Every day I also receive hundreds of messages from people saying that I’ve helped them. It keeps me going.’
She shared her words of advice to other acne sufferers.
‘Unfollow anyone on social media that makes you feel like a lesser version of yourself,’ she said.
‘Hang around people that truly love you. Over time, you will see that acne is just one part of you.
‘Your people love your skin and how you show up just the way you are.’