(BPT) – If you’re one of the 85% of teens or young adults suffering from acne, you know how tough it can be. Having acne can sometimes make you self-conscious, affecting your social life and self-esteem.

It can be especially difficult if you have “severe recalcitrant nodular acne” — often referred to as nodular or cystic acne. Cystic acne can be hard to treat and often becomes painful solid bumps that typically erupt on the face, and sometimes also on the upper body.

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hillary Baldwin, M.D., warns, “If left untreated or unsuccessfully treated, this type of acne can cause visible and irreversible lifelong scars.”

Treatment for mild-to-moderate acne can involve using over-the-counter cleansers, topical treatments or even antibiotics. But if you have nodular or cystic acne, certain types of prescription treatments are required to get it under control and prevent scarring.

“Each type of acne is different,” says Dr. Baldwin, “So you need to have open dialogue with a dermatologist to assess your particular case and plan the best course of action to take back your face.”

Acne is not your fault

Along with concerns about your appearance, you may worry that others are judging you, or feel like you could have prevented a breakout. People who haven’t experienced cystic or nodular acne may not understand how frustrating it can be to cope with it every day.

The truth is, acne is a complicated medical condition that can have many causes, including hormones and genetics, that are outside of your control. Know that if you have acne, it’s not your fault — but you can take some positive action to do something about it.

Seeing a dermatologist is an important first step towards having your acne assessed professionally and determining the right course of treatment.

Increased screen time and mask wearing raises new acne issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has also complicated things for you if you’re suffering from nodular or cystic acne. Between the social isolation and the need to shelter in place, everyone’s lives have been disrupted.

Interacting with your friends and classmates online may be even harder now, as being on video all the time means your face is front and center. You may feel even more self-conscious as you see yourself on screen for hours every day.

Mask wearing is also problematic for some. “Wearing masks may partially cover your face, which can help to hide your acne,” Dr. Baldwin says, “but mask-wearing for longer periods of time can also make your acne worse.”

If you’ve been avoiding seeing a dermatologist due to any safety concerns, call their office to ask about telehealth visits, which are easy and convenient for consulting with a doctor from your own home.

You are not alone — Take on acne

Stress is another emotional and physical state that can make acne worse, Dr. Baldwin says, and if you’re going back to school in whatever form, this is a really stressful time compared to previous years. It’s important to take care of yourself and find healthy ways to relieve stress that work for you.

To get a handle on your acne, make an appointment to talk with a dermatologist. And in the meantime, visit TakeonAcne.com for useful information about assessing and coping with your acne. You can download an easy-to-follow guide with helpful tips about lifestyle changes that may help to improve your acne, along with your treatments.

The most important thing to know is that you are not your acne, and you are not alone. With help, you can find the right treatment to help you get through breakouts, and get back to being yourself.