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SO, it's been a year and a half since I started my regimen (Bactrim 800-160 once daily, 25mg Spironolactone, CeraVe facewash, 6months Acanya topical), about 15 months since I started seeing DRASTIC improvement, and one year that I have been totally clear. I have to say, I NEVER imagined this could be possible for my skin. If you've read my previous blogs, you'd know I suffered from severe cystic acne along with cosmetic acne and extremely oily as well as sensitive skin. After 3 months on my regimen, I was overjoyed that my skin had went from 95% broke out (face, chest, arms & back), to about 50%. I would have been happy with that, honestly, because my skin hadn't looked that good in years. But after 6 months I was totally clear. Yes, 100%. I was ecstatic to say the least. Used Atralin (RetinA) to help fade the marks that were still visible but after two more months I had some trouble with sebhorreic dermatitis (basically itchy, dry skin caused by an imbalance of good and bad bacteria) and the Atralin and Acanya were making my skin even more sensitive so the risks outweighed the benefits. It took me about 6 weeks to get the seb derm under cotrol, but (fingers crossed) I haven't had an outbreak in about 8 months, so I think I'm in the clear! As far as my skin goes, I will get MAYBE 1-2 minor blemishes/month and that is purely hormonal. My skin is clearer than the friends I used to envy for their clear skin. I'm ecstatic, I will never take this for granted. Looking into maybe a chemical peel or laser resurfacing to diminish the appearance of pores, but that's unrelated to my past acne, everyone in my family has large pores. I actually don't have ANY scarring from my horrible acne history, it's amazing, I'm so blessed and fortunate. Anyways, all that to say- THERE IS HOPE. Keep trying things. Someday something will work. If you're a female over 20 still suffering from hormonal acne, ask your dermatologist about spironolactone, it's a miracle worker for me. Also, ask about Bactrim (antibiotic) specifically, because unlike other antibiotics it targets the skin first rather than cycling through your entire system. The combination has done wonders for me. Peace and love, God bless.


100% Clarity

Just a quick udate since my struggle with seborrheic dermatitis had me down. I am glad the say that my skin is (and has been for the past few weeks) 100% clear of blemishes and visible seb derm. I had to back down my Bactrim dosage to 3 days on and 4 days off every week, and in addition to using Cortaid and Lotrimin as needed, I have successfully been able to get my skin clear of the red itchy patches and keep them away for weeks at a time. As long as I am taking any antibiotic at all, I know I will have to deal with managing the seb derm, but honestly- its waaaaaaay easier to deal with than having breakouts. A little powder and its invisible, unlike acne which is 3 dimensional. Thankfully, I've found a regimen that works both to keep my skin 100% blemish-free and keeps the seb derm flare-ups extremely mild and usually about 2 weeks apart. Considering they consist of 2-3 slightly dry, mildly red patches that disappear in 24 hours- its really not something I'm even worried about anymore. I'm just enjoying life without makeup, hiding, and embarrassment. The sun is shining and so am I!

Well, I haven't had a blemish in probably 4-5 months now (YAY!) and thats the main thing keeping me positive the past month or so. I was diagnosed last week with Seborrheic Dermatitis, which is basically a buildup of yeast/bacteria on my face and neck which my body is having an immune response to, causing redness, irritation, dry skin, and hive-like raised areas. It all started about 6 weeks ago, I started noticing dry skin around my eyes, jawline and in the 'parenthesis' area around my mouth. I had started using the Atralin (retin-a) about a month and a half previous to the dryness, so I assumed it was normal to have some dry skin and didn't think much of it. However, as a week or two went by, the redness and itchiness became pretty bothersome and my eyes were even swollen and almost bruised looking. This was near the end of March, so I thought maybe allergies were aggravating my skin/eyes. I stopped using both the Atralin and Acanya around the same time and just moisturized, because my skin was too irritated for anything more than a moisturizer. Another few weeks went by, and my skin waxed and waned on severity of the redness, swelling, and itchiness. Near the last week of April, I started noticing more hive-like raised areas on my cheeks and neck, and the itching (especially at night) became almost unbearable. I thought either A) I'm having an allergic reaction to the Bactrim or B) I've developed severe eczema on my face and neck. I scheduled an emergency derm appointment, and went in without makeup so that the doctor could see exactly what was going on. That's when he diagnosed it as Seborrheic Dermatitis and prescribed me a steroid cream and an anti-fungal. I couldn't afford the steroid cream, and had read that they aren't effective in treating SebDerm, just masking the symptoms, so I just had the anti-fungal prescription filled. I've been using it twice a day for the past 5 days along with a low-carb sugar free caffeine free diet, but things are seeming worse now than they even were last week when I went to the derm. Today, I made the mistake of laying out in the sun, because I had read that sun exposure can help manage sebderm flareups. BAD IDEA. My face is so red and itchy and inflamed now, its terrible. I'm doing my best to keep a positive attitude, because even though this is uncomfortable and unsightly, it can easily be covered with makeup and the raised hive-like areas aren't very noticable like a pimple or cyst would be. I'm pretty positive that this SebDerm flareup is the result of using a topical antibiotic (Acanya) and being on a long-term antibiotic (Bactrim), and then introducing the retin-a (Atralin). Between the topical antibiotic and the oral antibiotic, I eliminated all the bacteria on my skin, good and bad alike, so yeast was allowed to overgrow. Because I had been using the retin-a, my skin got dry and fragile, susceptible to infection/yeast overgrowth. I haven't used the Acanya or retin-a in 6 weeks or so, and I am stopping the Bactrim tomorrow. I also started misting my face and neck with colloidal silver today, which acts as a natural antibiotic that doesn't kill good bacteria. I know that once I get this flare-up under control, it won't be an issue again. It's just stressing me out because I thought I was done with skin problems. Keeping my head held high though, because I know its only a matter of time till this is a thing of the past!

SO, its been probably 2 months without a single blemish. Not. one. I'm over the moon. I feel like I'm finally seeing myself for the first time. Since I was 11 years old, I've avoided mirrors. I'd do my makeup in the morning (which was at least an hour long process, even when I wasn't leaving the house- I'd still wear a full face of makeup) and then try my best NOT to look at myself the rest of the day. Seeing myself in the mirror honestly depressed me, and a glimpse of myself was enough to bring down my mood for the rest of the day. Some nights, I'd just lay there and cry. I knew I was beautiful inside, but the outside didn't match. My skin made me feel like a monster, and I mourned that it was marring the real beauty I knew I possessed. Now, however- I'm actually seeing the person inside reflected in the mirror. I am going out without makeup, and feeling confident about it. I can see myself completely barefaced and I feel absolutely beautiful. It's really quite life-changing. I mean, people always told me I was pretty/beautiful etc. and I actually had quite a lot of interest from guys even when my skin was at its worst, but I couldn't see what people saw in me. This change is totally for me, not anyone else. Everyone else was able to see me underneath all the makeup and problems- but I wasn't. Now I am definitely starting to and it feels amazing.

Okay, so all that aside- here's what my regimen consists of: Spiro 25 mg daily, 1/2 Bactrim 800-160 daily, Acanya gel twice daily, Atralin at night, and I use CeraVe foaming cleanser and a 10% Benzoyl Peroxide wash. The Atralin (which is basically a milder form of Retin A) is doing wonders for my skin texture. I was afraid to use it back when I was still having a few blemishes/minor breakouts because I wanted to avoid the purging effect at all costs. I started using it about a month and a half ago though, and had absolutely no initial breakout whatsoever. In fact, I definitely think its even prevented any of the small blemishes I was still getting previous to starting the Atralin. I can definitely tell me skin texture improving and pores looking smaller, so I really look forward to the 6 month mark when you're supposed to see full results. All in all, I couldn't be happier with my regimen. My dermatologist and nurse were overjoyed to see me, they couldn't believe the improvement. Which is now literally 100% from where I was. I went from what I considered 95% broke out, both my face and body, with cystic acne as wall as non-inflamed comedones and cosmetic acne to 100% blemish free on both my face and body. Like seriously, 100%. For going on 2 months now. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and get a few blemishes around my hormonal cycle- but nothing whatsoever. The weeks went by and things just keep getting better. I really look forward to what this new year and new me holds!! :)

Worlds Of Change

So lately I've been feeling like a different person since my skin's been gradually clearing and improving in texture/appearance. I feel like I'm actually myself- not hiding behind caked makeup, turtlenecks, long hair and bangs. A few weeks ago, I started work as the makeup and set artist for my local highschool's musical theatre program. In the dressing rooms there are only bright fluorescent lights- a nightmare for anyone with skin problems. Not to mention, when doing people's makeup, most of the time you are within inches of their face and they spend the whole time looking straight at you. Six months to a year ago, that would have been the most humiliating and uncomfortable situation due to my skin and I may have even turned down the *paid* position just out of self-consciousness because of my skin. I'm happy to say that not a single thought or worry about my skin went through my head during the whole process. Yeah, my skin's not perfect, but its no longer a barrier for me. AND I can't tell you how many compliments I got- it was almost ridiculous how many people told me I was beautiful, gorgeous, etc. Even people I didn't even know very well I would overhear in the hallway commenting on how beautiful they thought I was. That was.. pretty incredible for my self esteem.

Another result of this new found confidence has to do with my hair. Since the 5th grade, my hair has been my security blanket. If my face/neck broke out, I'd always be able to wear my hair down or over my face to help hide my blemishes and insecurities. As I got older, I began obsessing with the length of my hair and my weight, employing hair extensions to cover my shoulders and chest and to make me appear thinner as I tried to lose weight. I've always felt "If I have to have bad skin, at least I'll be thin." Most of my life I've felt both fat and bad-skinned, so I thought that if I can't control or improve the condition of my skin, at least if I could control my weight. This led to so many insecurities and a rapidly developing eating disorder that I've been struggling to come to terms with and overcome for the past year and a half. I'm on the road to recovery, and even though I know I can't be "fixed" overnight, I have hope that my skin clarity and increasing self-esteem are definitely helping my overall stability. ANYWAYS, all that to say this: I'm considering getting all my hair cut off into an Emma Watson-esque pixie cut. Its terrifying to think about, but I'm thinking that a drastic hair change may be what I need to just take that leap away from the old me into the new me. My main fears from the *old* me are that 1) I'll look fat (I've had medium-length hair before and always felt it to be unflattering, making me look heavier, hence the hair extensions) and 2) I won't have the "bad skin security blanket" anymore. If my neck or shoulders or sides of my face break out- I won't have that curtain of hair to hide me, to draw between me and the world. I haven't had a breakout in months (knock on wood), but I'm still living in fear that all this is too good to be true and someday I'll go back to where I was. Kind of like Charlie in Flowers for Algernon. However, getting my hair cut in that fashion (which, what inspired me was trying on a pixie-cut wig and realizing I had the perfect face shape/stature for a pixie cut- it honestly looks so good on me) I would be accepting myself for exactly who I am, as I am- tearing down one more of the walls between me and the world around me. Yeah, I may have a breakout every now and then that is more exposed without the hair, but I'd be accepting that and accepting myself as being strong enough to deal with that possibility. Its definitely a step I'm willing to take, going to take a lot of prayer and consideration, but its my New Year's resolution to try it. You only live once, and hair can grow back if I don't like it. Its the experience that I'm looking to, the confidence and self-esteem and sense of empowerment that I think would be that necessary boost to really just catapult me into my new life and new self.

Well, so far so good! I've been on my current regimen of 25mg Spiro, 800-160 Bactrim, Cerave facewash and Acanya (topical) for over a month now, and the results are looking pretty good! I'm staying between 85-95% clear on my face, neck & chest- which is amazing for me! Especially considering my average, untreated skin was usually only around 25% clear on a good day, 5-10% when I was having a breakout. The awful sporadic cystic acne on my chest has all but vanished since I started the Bactrim ( thank God) and I no longer have any cysts on my face/neck area at all (knock on wood). My back is still being a bit troublesome, mainly because its the hardest place to wash thoroughly and apply topicals to. The Bactrim has really helped, however, and I'm starting to use the Atralin (retinA) cream on my shoulders and what parts of my back I can reach. I know it may "get worse before it gets better" as many people say happens with retinA, but its getting chilly enough outside that tank tops, swim suits and strapless anything is definitely out of season for a while. I still have the occasional pimple or two on my face at any given time, but the severity is so drastically decreased- its amazing. These things go away in a day or so and don't leave deep red marks. And really, if I wouldn't pick at clogged pores or wear hairspray, I wouldn't get those occasional little zits. I'm being a lot more strict on myself about not touching anything unless it really needs it, and avoiding hairspray on a daily basis and using it only for certain occasions when necessary. Hopefully, in another months time I'll still be maintaining- if not improving- the clarity of my skin! Till then :)

Well- its been a full week since I started the 1/2 of a. 800-160mg dosage of bactrim, and so far I've had no side effects to speak of and no rash in sight! Which, usually after being on an antibiotic for a week I start seeing the little prickly rashbumps popping up on my chest and neck, so its a good sign to me that there's no sign of a rash any time soon. Doubled my dose as of this morning (which means I'm still only taking half the dose my derm prescribed) and we'll see how this goes for the next few weeks :) No noticeable results in acne clarification yet, but I'm thinking the upped dose will definitely fix that. As of now, my skin is drastically better than it was two months ago (before starting spiro). My face and neck are probably 90% clear right now, I only have about three minor spots that are healing at the moment ( because I did a bad thing and picked at clogged pores that would've been fine if left alone, but because I picked- they got aggravated and turned into pimples D:< I was so angry with myself, I'm swearing off picking from now on) but my back and chest are still not looking that great. Mainly because I have a hard time not picking at it, which irritates things and makes them worse. I started using the Acanya on my chest, since it has worked wonders on my face and neck, and hopefully that will take care of things. I've never had a problem with acne on my chest, so its really frustrating that I'm breaking out there and can't find any explanation for the cause of breakouts. I haven't changed anything in my routine, except that I'm not tanning on a regular basis, and that hasn't been a huge problem in the past. I don't see whay that would cause such big problems now :/ anyways, like I said- hopefully the Acanya will take care of that. Will check back in another week or so with the results from my upped dosage! If all goes well with the Bactrim, I may up my Spiro as well.

*** Speaking of Spiro, its still working like a charm in reducing my hormonal acne. Its not totally eliminated, but greatly amazingly reduced. One odd thing was that my cycle started a full 10 days early this month.. which is strange because my cycle is usually very regular and falls on the same day every month. I don't know if the change is from the Spiro, but other than coming early, the cycle was normal in duration and whatnot so who knows. The great thing about it is though- usually I have about a week of terrible skin leading up to starting, so I always know when its coming- but the past two cycles (this sporadic one included) I've had virtually NO hormonal breakout!! Which explains why this cycle came completely out of the blue. So really, I don't care if the Spiro effects my cycle, as long as it keeps the breakouts away, I'm pretty darn happy.

Forgot to mention that my new derm also wrote me a prescription for a high dosage of Bactrim. From what I've read, it can seriously work wonders for most people's skin as long as they keep taking it and don't form a resistance. And can deal with any side effects, which with Bactrim it seems there are quite a few. I hesitated to take it at first, wanting to see how the topicals do on their own before adding something else. Anyways, its been a week since I started on the topicals, and I am seeing some improvement in the residual superficial acne/slight breakouts I've continued to have. Spiro has virtually annihilated my hormonal cystic acne (PRAISE GOD), but I still get maybe 3 new pimples ever week. They're usually really minor and go away after a few days thanks to the topicals, but I figure- if the Bactrim can keep those little suckers from ever forming, I'm seriously gonna be in clear-skin heaven. So yeah, my derm prescribed that I take two 800-160 mg tablets daily, which seems a bit high. And from what I've read, quite a few people have had some pretty serious reactions to it within the first few days to a week of starting the medication, so I'm playing it safe by taking 1/2 of one of the 800-160mg tablets once daily until I see how it affects me. If after a week of 1/2 dosage I feel fine, no rash or anything else weird, I'll start taking a whole tablet daily and probably just stick with that and see how it goes for me. I don't think I'll have any problems with it though, I have used a topical cream called Acnomel for many years and the main ingredient was sulphur, and it never caused problems. I've also taken MSM in the past with no complications, so I think I'll be fine. If I'm seeing results skin-wise after a week on the half dosage ( I know people say it takes 2-3 months to see legitimate results- but just about every review I've read, on this site and others, the people that had good results began seeing them immediately, usually in the first few days to a week), I may just stick with that and not raise it at all. Why take more of something when less works just fine? Exactly the same motto I had with the Spiro, and even though I'm on a super low dose that many people think won't be effective, its doing quite nicely for me regardless. Just goes to show everybody is different. Anyways, I'll check back in a few weeks to blog about any progress or changes!!

First off- I'm quite excited to say that I really do think the Spiro is showing some good results in my skin after 6 weeks, even though I've only been taking 25mg for the past 5 weeks. I'm happy to say that I had virtually NO breakout before, during, or after my monthly cycle last week!!!! For me, thats pretty significant. Previous to the Spiro, I'd start breaking out in really bad cysts the week before, the week of AND the week AFTER my cycle. It was REALLY depressing because 3 weeks out of every month, I'd be breaking out from hormones and only have /maybe/ a week of no new breakouts, which wasn't enough time for my skin to repair and heal before the next round of breakouts came along. However, this month my skin stayed amazingly stable during my cycle, and stayed just as clear as if I wasn't on my cycle. It's very encouraging, I hope this trend continues!!

Second, I had my first appointment with my new dermatologist yesterday. I had issues with my previous derm because A) They were a far away, large and relatively impersonal practice, B) the derm was only in the room with me for maybe 3 minutes C) no one asked me ANYTHING about my skin, my breakouts, what I've tried in the past, how long I've had acne, or what has worked and hasn't worked for me before prescribing me medication. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite glad that I got the prescription for Spiro, because it is helping, but there's more to my acne than JUST hormones and they didn't recommend any topicals, regimens, soaps, lifestyle changes- nothing. My new derm is like night and day compared to the previous. Its a smaller practice within 20 minutes of where I live, the other was a solid hour drive, and thats without any traffic. The new derm and nurse spent a lot of time with me, asking me about my skin issues and things I've tried in the past. Not only did he recommend I stay on the 25mg Spiro, but he also prescribed me Acanya (Clindamycin 1.2% and BP 2.5%) and Atralin (Tretinoin 0.05%), which from what I've read are both pretty highly-rated topicals and compliment each other when used together. The nurse also advised me to stop using bars of soap on my face/body because the waxes, fillers and binders that are put into bar soap to make it hard and hold its shape are really bad for the skin (even the sensitive skin types like Dove that I use) and can clog pores. They gave me samples of both prescriptions so I can try it before I buy it, AND samples of CeraVe cleanser & moisturizers. I was extremely impressed with the personal care and consideration they paid to my visit and am definitely looking forward to my future with this practice.

On the last note, I have to say that the CeraVe cleanser feels amazing on my skin, not stinging and drying like the Dove Sensitive Skin bar I had been using. I'm hoping that maybe this new cleanser will make a difference in the amount of clogged pores and non-inflamed comedones that I still have. I haven't started the Acanya and Atralin yet, but I know that I'm going to start Acanya first and give it a week or so before adding Atralin, just to make sure that if one of them causes irritation or a flare up, I can identify which one is the source a lot easier than if I started them at the same time.

Spiro 1 Month

Its finally here! One whole month on Spironolactone. And you know what? I /think? I'm seeing the beginnings of some good results. Can't be sure, especially since I'm only on 25mg currently (going back up to 50mg in the next few weeks), but my skin seems to be doing noticeably better progressively in the past two weeks. Considering I've been having virtually non-stop cystic nodules, surface acne, tons of non-inflamed comedones (bumps that look like pimples but aren't red and have no visible head) and small rash-like acne bump break-outs all over my face, neck, chest, shoulders and back for the past 3 months, I am now seeing several weeks of progressively clearer skin, decreased severity of breakouts, very very few cysts on the face/chin/neck area and a lot less clogged non-inflamed comedones. I'm not positive that this is 100% due to the Spiro showing its effects, it could be coincidental, but I certainly hope it is the Spiro. I haven't had this amount of maintained clarity for this amount of time since probably around January, so I'm thinking it is the Spiro in its very early stages of success. Now, by no means am I totally clear.. maybe about 70%, whereas before the Spiro a month ago I would average around only about 20-30% clear. However, even though I am still getting spots, they are nowhere near the severity of the breakouts I had been getting all summer. I would constantly have 2-3 cysts on each cheek, with another 4-5 on my chin and along my jawline on each side, my entire neck covered in a combination of rash-like acne bumps and deep, extremely painful cysts that took weeks to heal, constellations of cysts on my shoulders/back, and a solid layer of small cysts on my chest. In addition to that, I also had lots of clogged pores, scattered cosmetic and surface acne, and non-inflamed bumps all over my face. The worst part was that as soon as one breakout would begin to heal, another would surface on top of the old breakout and the red marks would never get a chance to fade, making it look twice as bad. It was really getting upsetting. I've dealt with bad skin for the past 10 years, but this summer has been beastly. But in the past few weeks, I'm definitely noticing a gradual improvement. I haven't had a legitimate breakout in several weeks. I get a new pimple or two on my face maybe every other day, but they are not cystic and heal up pretty quickly. All the cysts on my jawline are gone. My neck is virtually clear once the faint red marks finish fading, except for one or two cysts where my neck meets my shoulders, but I suspect thats from starting to use hairspray, which I usually stay away from. I've noticed a reduction in the amount of non-inflamed bumps on my face, which is a relief because those suckers are annoying. They aren't even noticeable without makeup because they are skin-coloured, but as soon as I put makeup over them, they stand out like crazy and it looks like I just put a ton of makeup over a patch of zits. The only areas I haven't seen much improvement in are 1) oil production and 2) back/chest acne. My oil production seems varied but not reduced. Some days, like today, my skin seemed slightly less oily than usual. However, most days, I still get crazy shiny. Number 2 is my back/chest acne. Still getting cysts on my back, and more acne on my chest than I am comfortable with. I'm not used to acne on my chest at all. I've always had it bad on my face/neck/shoulders/back in the past, but I would only have an occasional zit on my chest. Anything more than that was due to an allergic reaction/rash of some sort. This summer though, my chest has been plastered with zits. I kinda took having a clear chest for granted, because now all I wear is t-shirts, and I'm starting to miss the low-cut blouses. Though I've seen a decrease in the acne severity on my face/neck, I've yet to see significant clearance on my chest/back. My shoulders are clear (yay tank tops!!) but there's only been a slight improvement in my chest acne, and its hard to say if its lasting because it varies day to day. I think I'd also be safe to say I haven't really seen much of a change at all with my back. Really the only thing that keeps my body acne clear is tanning, which I need to do again soon before things get out of hand. Anyways, my overall evaluation of Spiro after 1 month is positive. I think I'm on the right track, and if I can come this far on 25mg I really think 50 will be the winning dose for me, but we'll see. I will check back in once I find out if I can safely go back to 50! Until then- :)

Well, approaching week 1 on the Spironolactone. So far, no adverse reactions. Had a persistent headache the first few days, but discovered the headache was due to low blood pressure and they go away pretty easily without medication. I really can't wait to start seeing results in the next few months, really been frustrated with my skin lately. Which is nothing new :doh: Well, I'll update when I'm at the one month mark, until then :)

Day 2

Well, its day 2 on Spiro, and thankfully no immediate adverse reactions. I'm on 25 milligrams 2x/day, 50m total for the first 10 days, then its up to 100. I know I won't be seeing any effects for a good while, but I at least feel like I'm doing something. The thought of being free & clear by mid-November is pretty much what gets me through the day. Going through a breakout right now, but even though it sucks, I'm not as depressed about it because its only a matter of time until I don't have to worry about this crap anymore. Even if the Spiro isn't as effective as I'm hoping, I still have 2 options; combine Spiro with a BCP to increase the results OR if all else fails, a good long course of Accutane with a Spiro regimen afterwards to prevent the acne from returning. BUT hopefully I won't have to worry about acne too much anymore here in a few months :)

August 15 2011

Well, today hopefully begins a new chapter in my journey to overcoming acne. I made a visit to my dermatologist and was prescribed Spiro for the oil/hormonal acne and cysts. I've heard a lot of good things about Spiro, so I was very excited to hear him suggest it. I don't know that its going to be a cure for me, but any level of sustained improvement will make it worth it for me. Even if it doesn't, then thats just one more thing to cross off my list and not waste my time with. I really have hope this time though, and I'm going to give it all the time it needs to work ( usually 2-3 months to see results) before I deem it successful or not. My first pill is tomorrow morning, so hopefully its the first day of my road to clarity :)

My Acne Struggle

Well, I guess this is a good time to give a backstory on my struggle with acne. Quite literally, I was born with it. I had infant acne, and was having full-blown break-outs and cysts by 5th grade. Kids that age shouldn't have to worry about wearing make-up, or how to fix your hair to best hide the cystic acne on your neck. I remember at 10 years old having a terrible cyst under my eye and having to tell my classmates that it was a spider bite to prevent humiliation. Anyways, needless to say, acne was ALWAYS an issue for me from that point forward. Junior High was misery, especially all the questions about my body acne I would get when dressing out in the locker room before gym class. High school was no better, but by my freshman year I had started the endless cycle of trying to find a "cure." Proactiv, Natures Cure, supplements, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, colloidal silver, sulfur, MSM, RetinA, antibiotics-- I TRIED EVERYTHING topical and over-the-counter to no avail. The products I tried would improve my skin (never 100% clear, or anywhere close) but would stop working after a few weeks and I'd be right back where I started. My skin is not only break-out prone, but also extremely sensitive to metals, talc, etc. I actually had some relief with my skin when I switched to Physician's Formula Talc-Free mineral makeup during my Junior year of high school. However, using the wrong makeup was only a small percentage of the problem. Hormones, oil, & genetics are the beasts I struggle with most. I am now a Junior in college, 21 years old and STILL struggling with terrible cystic acne as well as overproduction of oil, blackheads, minor cosmetic acne and a ton of clogged pores, not just on my face but arms, chest, neck, shoulders & back as well. I was told all during my teenage years "Don't worry, you'll grow out of it," "Its just a phase," "It'll go away once your hormones level out." Nope. So this is where I am. My family doctor suggested Accutane, which was a wakeup call to me because I've always heard that Accutane is a 'last resort'. That was when I realized that I really am at the end of my rope dealing with this. I'm allergic to most antibiotics and topicals provide virtually no relief, and certainly no lasting results. The only thing that has given me some hope in the past is tanning, which really only works on the body acne. Lately, I've been using the aspirin mask and to my surprise I haven't had a breakout since I've started. Which for me is exceptional because this summer has been hellish- as soon as one breakout starts to clear, another is rising to the surface. Miraculously, my skin heals extremely well and I don't scar easily. I deal with the red marks (which almost always fade pretty quickly if there's no new acne forming on top of them) and enlarged pores but no pockmarks, thank God. The only lasting scars have been to my self-esteem, and I attribute my struggle with romantic relationships, body dysmorphia, eating disorders and depression to having bad skin most of my life. Through my relationship with Jesus Christ, I have been able to let go and come to terms with some of my mental/emotional scarring but as anyone who has struggled with acne knows, its a loooooooong process and its especially difficult when you're STILL having breakouts in spite of everything. Anywyays, I'm not giving up and I'm not afraid to do whatever it takes to win this battle.

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