The history of zits


I was one of the lucky ones. Oh, I was definitely part of the one-in-five group–the guy who, I suspect, was referred to as “pizza face” even by my friends behind my back. I consider myself lucky that my parents found a dermatologist who wasn’t a quack, who didn’t treat my acne with liquid nitrogen or scrubbing regimes, but who prescribed antibiotics. I’ve still got a little bit of a Bill Murray* thing going on facially, but my acne cleared up quickly.

For one of my appointments he was unavailable and I had to see another dermatologist instead. The first thing she said to me was, “Why are you seeing a dermatologist?” It was such a huge ego boost I nearly asked her to the prom.

Edit: I freely admit I consider it appalling that this look is considered “rugged” in men and frowned upon in women. It’s a small consolation that “acne affects far more young men than women”.

1 Like

What I lacked in quantity, I made up for with quality… I didn’t have many zits, but the ones that I got – legend-ary!!! The lack of quantity also seems to be compensated for by extending the teen years into my middle age – just got my semi-annual giant one (of course on the end of my nose).

1 Like

They used to treat acne with radiation. Super effective, I’m sure, but one of my father’s colleagues developed cancer later in life as a direct result.


I’ll be 27 on Thursday and I still have persistent but probably technically “moderate” acne. It’s actually gotten much worse over the years, and when it’s bad I can look quite disfigured (thankfully, it hasn’t caused appreciable scarring).

Every year I think “well, I’m finally old enough to be free of this, aren’t I?” Nope, F you, my body replies. I’m tempted to go the antibiotics route, but there are myriad side issues related to that.

I enjoyed the article but until there’s an issue-free cure I severely doubt the social effects of acne will go away. That’s what’s so sinister about it - there’s apparently nothing we can do about it without causing other problems, it affects almost everyone at some point, and it’s essentially benign - and yet there’s a huge, probably evolutionarily-wired social stigma about it.

Even though I know better than to judge based on it, I still get a vague negative feeling about people when they have acne or other facial disfigurement. You can’t help it. I’m conditioned to empathize and not judge harshly since often I probably look worse, but it seems clear that most people aren’t like that and that that won’t change anytime soon. Oh well.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.