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When Will developed severe acne in his early teens, it destroyed his self-esteem. It was only when he tried the drug isotretinoin, at 18, that his acne finally cleared. Now 23, Will wants to help other people with acne see that there is hope.

"I started getting spots when I was about 13. It wasn't really a problem to start with because all my friends had them too.

"But the spots got worse and I developed severe cystic acne all over my face and back. My first year at university should have been one of the happiest times of my life, but it was actually the worst.

"Acne was affecting my work, my friendships and my relationship with my parents. I missed great nights out because, when my skin was really bad, I couldn't face seeing anyone.

"At 18, I felt really depressed. All my friends were meeting girls and I couldn't talk to any of them because of the way I looked. I refused to be photographed.

"When I was at my worst I couldn't sleep properly and I eventually went to my GP to ask for some sleeping pills. He commented on my acne straight away. He asked if I was depressed and explained that it was the acne causing my sleep problems.

"He recommended the drug isotretinoin (also branded as Roaccutane) and referred me to a skin specialist. I was prescribed a five-month course and that's when things really changed for me. A month after my 19th birthday, my acne had almost cleared up. Everyone started saying how healthy I looked and I knew what they meant. I felt great for the first time in ages.

"I know the drug might not be the right treatment for everyone, but it really helped me. I saw the benefits the next year, when the side effects (dry skin and thinning hair) wore off. My hair is now thick again but I do still get dry lips. However, I think this is a price worth paying.

"That was five years ago. Since then I've started a website giving practical advice and support to other people with acne. I want people to have a more balanced view of Roaccutane as there are lots of horror stories around.

"I still do get the occasional spot but it's just what the average person gets, nothing like the cystic acne I had before. My acne scars have almost completely faded.

"I'd say to others with acne: don't ignore it. Make sure you see a doctor. I suffered for about five years before seeing my GP because I was in denial. I thought every teenager got it.

"You can be cured and you can be happy. You are not stuck with acne for life."

view information about Acne on www.nhs.co.uk »

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