July 25, 2005 — -- Chelsea Fahey had always been celebrated for her looks -- she was a child model and won more than 10 beauty pageant titles, eventually going on win the Miss Teen America 2004 crown.
But beginning in seventh grade, she fought an embarrassing battle against severe acne.
"I would hide my face with my hair, and I would look down so I wouldn't see people's reactions and I wouldn't have to deal with the pain of seeing people wincing," said Chelsea, who is now 18.
The Academy of Dermatology says almost every teen aged 12 to 17 will suffer from some form of acne, but 40 percent of those will develop very serious acne. Instead of pimples, they will get cysts that can cause scarring -- and emotional devastation.
"I didn't make very many friends, not wanting to date anyone," Chelsea said. "I didn't want anyone to touch my face, not looking in mirrors. It was really sad."
She even went so far as to cover all the mirrors in the house, so she wouldn't have to see herself. And she tried everything -- pills, creams, different face washes, medicated makeup -- but nothing seemed to work.
Chelsea's mother, Jane, watched helplessly as her daughter seemed to be fighting a losing battle and retreated further into herself.
"It wasn't just an occasional pimple, it was a cyst underneath the skin and then it would be three cysts and then a forehead and a cheek full and a chin full," Jane said.
But Chelsea refused to talk about the problem -- even to her mother.
"I thought that if I talked about it, I was admitting that I had a problem. And I didn't want to have any more problems than any normal teenager has," Chelsea said.