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Female Hormonal Acne

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I've been through a lot of ups and downs the past few weeks. Things were getting better, and then suddenly I had a lot of new cysts form. I have to say, I am much less inflamed now and I feel like I am making progress. My face is still terrible, but I really do feel like things are moving in the right direction.

I have about 4 huge cysts on my cheeks that are taking forever to go away. They are in the worst spots too-- really visible and impossible to cover with makeup. They are finally going down, but I did notice another one popping up in the same area. I'm getting more small pimples on my forehead and cheeks instead of the big cysts. This is an improvement, I suppose. I'm worried, though, that my makeup is clogging my pores and that's why I'm getting the non-cystic acne.

I just got some samples for Arbonne makeup, which is apparently non-comedogenic and very natural. I'll see if I like it and then hopefully order some.

I went back to my Exuviance liquid foundation, but I definitely use too much of it. I use concealer over pimples and foundation all over my face. I also use Bare Essentuals bronzer, mostly on my cheeks and forehead. I love this bronzer! I am worried that it is causing me to breakout, though, even though it is noncomedogenic and I've seen great reviews from people who are acne prone.

I'm washing my face with Cetaphil mixed with Jojoba oil. I was first just using Jojoba, but it definitely made things a lot worse because it caused all the bad stuff to pop out all at once. I also read that Jojoba is great for getting the bad stuff out, but it can also bring the bad stuff in! So, I'm not using it as a foundation remover. Instead, I've been either mixing it with cetaphil to get makeup off, or using cetaphil to wash my face and jojoba after my face is already clean. I really like it so far. It moisturizes my face, so I don't really need to moisturize before putting makeup on. I also think it's helping with the hyper-pigmentation. I've been using it as a conditioner for my hair as well. And it's also great as a moisturizer after I shave my legs. Right now I have an expensive organic bottle, but I think I'm going to buy a cheapy from Trader Joe's to use on my hair and legs.

I'm still using Aczone on my face. I'm also using Ziana about every other day.

I just hit the three month mark for birth control, and I've been on Spironolactone for about 2 months (I think?). People have told me that it takes about 3 months on this stuff to get the hormones regulated, so I'm hoping that I'm on track. Like I said, I have been feeling like things are calming down.

The heat has not helped anything! The city was close to 100 degrees yesterday. I sweat every day in the subway, and I have to wear that makeup all day at work. I've been trying not to wear makeup on the weekends to give my face a break. Today I think I'm going to the beach. Hopefully that salt water will do my face some good :)

I started working a new job last week and have been very stressed. The acne seemed to be getting better for awhile, but I went out drinking a few nights ago and woke up with some more cysts sad.png Some days I feel like I'm on the right track, and then other days I feel like it's getting so much worse.

I've been wearing much more make-up than I usually do this past week and I'm sure that's not helping anything. But I have to wear makeup at work! Arg.

I started washing my face with Jojoba oil. It's definitely bringing stuff up quicker. I was told that I might not see improvements until a month or two. I'm going to keep using it and see how it goes. I'm still using some topicals occasionally on my face from the dermatologist. I'm also still on Spironolactone and Birth Control. I stopped taking antibiotics over a week ago.

The right side of my face was acne free (just tons of hyperpigmentation) about a week ago, but 3 cysts popped up recently sad.png I definitely get clusters of acne when I get cysts. Why is that? Also, it seems like the acne gets bad on one side of my face and then it gets better... and then the other side of my face gets bad. So strange.

I'm not really eating any dairy, but I am eating a lot of wheat/gluten. Wondering if I should cut back and see if it affects anything. For now I'm going to keep my diet the same, but I should remember to take my multivitamin every day. My eating hasn't been great this past week and I'm pretty sure I'm not getting all the nutrients I need. I haven't had any time to exercise, but I'm hoping to get into a schedule soon.

Lately I've been reading a ton about western dermatology vs. eastern remedies for acne. I have gone to skin doctors since my teens, and I don't trust them. I don't trust them because I always know what they are going to say and what they are going to put me on. If I have an outbreak, it's always topicals and antibiotics. Or antibiotics with spironolactone. My acne always comes back! Isn't this a sign that these medications only work short-term for me. Worse is that it is a known fact that using antibiotics regularly has negative effects on one's body. Using chemicals on your face have negative effects on skin! Why must they try and put me on the same medications-- it's pretty clear to me that they don't work! Yes, maybe they help with my acne for a few months, but these are absolutely not permanent fixes! It's pretty clear to me that there is a deeper reason for my acne.

These short-term fixes are a problem! They can cause longterm damage to our bodies! Furthermore, my dermatologists have never given me an explanation for why my skin is bad. They tell me to do and not to do things, but they never tell me why. For example, they always told me not to pick my pimples. They said it could cause scarring. When I did a quick google search about picking, it told me that picking causes damage in the pores, which increases the size of the pore, making it easier to bacteria to infect the pore in the future. Ever wonder why acne often comes back in the same exact spot on your face? That's why! If a skin doctor told me the longterm effects of picking, I wouldn't have touched my face! I wasn't even an intense picker... if I had a whitehead about to pop, I would pop it. Or if I had flaky skin, I would pull it off. But, I definitely get cysts in the same spots on my face!

Antibiotics. I've been on so many in my life. I've been reading about antibiotics, and it's pretty clear that taking too much will cause candida overgrowth. Candida has been linked with acne. So even if antibiotics work initially, they could in fact make acne worse in the future. Furthermore, you can develop a resistance to them. I certainly have.

There needs to be a serious change in the way dermatologists do their work. I'm not sure if they just aren't sharing all information with us, but it seems there is a problem with how they are trained. They need to tell us about side-effects of using medications before prescribing them to us over and over again.

Is the root of the problem the fact that American's always want a quick fix? The approaches that skin doctor's use do give a quick fix to the problem. But, I find it ridiculous that I have to research longterm treatment on my own. A skin doctor has never given me holistic/eastern approaches-- even when I've asked! They say things like "well, some say there might be a link between milk and acne, but this hasn't been proven. If you want to know about other approaches, you could talk to an eastern doctor". It's like the dermatologist association banned them from talking about alternative approaches- even if they know about them! And if they don't know about them, it baffles my mind that they aren't knowledgeable about alternative methods. Diet, lifestyle changes, natural topicals, different reasons for acne formation-- why can't they tell us about these things?! Why is there such a divide between eastern and western medicine?!!!!

I have seen so many adult females with the same frustrations. So many women are going out of their way to learn about these things on their own because traditional treatments don't do the trick in the long run. I mean, duhhh, a hormone imbalance is not going to be remedied by a freaking antibiotic pill. It makes logical sense that there are internal reasons for acne that can't be fixed by simply getting rid of bacteria. So many women have found success in diet and lifestyle changes. They have found that natural topicals and oils have worked for them. Why isn't this stuff used by dermatologists? Why must they give us intense chemicals for our faces and harsh oral medications? Why don't they focus on longterm success?!

Arggg. Does anybody share my frustration?!

I am on Spironolactone and Antibiotics right now. My doctor gave me a prescription for 3 months of antibiotic pills. Doesn't that seem a little extreme?! I'm weaning off of them after being on for 2 weeks. There's no way I'm taking those fuckers for 3 months. They give me terrible yeast infections :( Spironolactone has worked for me in the past, so I'm going to stay on a bit longer. They did tell me there is a link between cancer in rats and spironolactone. That scares me shitless. I want to get off of this stuff as soon as my face calms down. I don't want to stop these medications cold turkey, because i know that will make things worse. I'm hoping to just be on birth control pills in a few months. During that time, I'm going to experiment with diet and lifestyle changes. I'm going to abandon my harsh topicals, and I'm going to try using jojoba oil and other natural topicals.

Has anybody had luck going to a holistic/alternative doctor? I've always wanted to go, but it's not covered by my health insurance. I don't have a lot of money to spend. I have been doing a lot of research, but I think talking to a trained professional could be beneficial.


I started taking only 1 antibiotic pill a day instead of 2. Still on Spironolactone.

I just bought some Jojoba oil online that I'm very excited about. Apparently it really helps with scars, and it can be used as a cleanser and moisturizer. It was very hard to find the recommended kind of Jojoba in a store. There are a few brands of organic and unrefined Jojoba, but it took me a while to find online. I better love this stuff- it's expensive!

I also purchased new make-up, which definitely feels lighter on my face. I'm stopping the use of Concealer, and I'm only using Natural FX foundation. It's a little thicker, so it covers up the pimples pretty well. I'm also using Bare Escentuals powder and bronzer. It's not as full coverage as Exuviance concealer and foundation, but it is definitely lighter. It also looks way more natural! Before I had concealer on spots and liquid foundation all over my face. Now I'm just using foundation on spots, and powder over my face.

I've been really gentle with my face. I'm still using topicals in the morning and at night, but I haven't been washing as much. I can definitely tell my face is calming down a bit. I also haven't been moisturizing, and that is helping with the oil. It seems that I don't really need to moisturize. I've been refraining from picking and touching my face, and I can tell the pimples are healing how they are supposed to!

I'm very optimistic, but I just saw a picture of myself from a year ago, and it shocked me. My face was so clear! I can't believe that I'm dealing with severe acne again. And I know the scarring will take forever to get rid of sad.png Blahhh

This time around, I know it's not going to be a quick fix. I'm really hoping I'll be able to get back on track and start healing my skin and scars. It sucks living in NYC because I am surrounded by people all the time, and I can't really get away with not wearing make-up. I am occupied by staring at other people's faces. I'm so jealous of all the women I see with perfect skin! My skin will never be perfect, but I am dreaming of the day that I don't have any more cysts. And then I'll be dreaming of the day that I won't have any scars, and I can go make-up free in public!

I start working next week, so I'll be wearing make-up for long hours. Hoping that this won't make my acne worse. Also hoping that the stress of starting a new job won't make it worse.

My active pimples are healing a bit. I did develop a few more on my chin. Yesterday I decided to take 1 pill a day of antibiotics instead of two. I'll give that a week and if things don't get worse, I'll go off of the antibiotics completely.

I've read a lot about jojoba oil and tea tree oil. Apparently jojoba is a good cleanser, and tea tree is a great antibacterial. Has anybody had luck with these? Some people swear by them. Does anybody know if you can use them together? Cleanse with jojoba and use tea tree after cleansing? I'm hoping one or both of these will help with my hyper-pigmentation and general skin healing.

I am currently taking:

Spironolactone, 50 MG twice a day

Trimethoprim 100 MG twice a day

Gianvi (Yaz generic) birth control pills


Aczone in the morning

Ziana at night

I wash my face with Cetaphil and I have an oil-free moisturizer made by Purpose. Just noticed that it's not noncomedogenic, so I will probably switch back to my Aveeno or Cetaphil moisturizer.

My goal is to wean off of antibiotic pills this week so that I'm only taking Spironolactone and Birth Control pills.

NYC in the summer is deadly, and I'm sweating so much! Does anybody have any tips? I use Exuviance foundation and concealer, but I just feel like liquid foundation is not the way to go in the summer. I will be working long hours, and I know having loads of make-up on my face for such a long time will not be good!

What type of make-up works for you? I'm learning towards doing a powder like Bare Minerals. Is this noncomedogenic?

Has anybody had luck with Manuka oil? I bought it a few months ago and I didn't really see improvements after doing it. It did help with redness, however. I may start using it every other day.

Below are some picture of my current state. This is 10X better than it was a month ago. I do have a lot of actives, but I also have a ton of hyperpigmentation and scarring. I also am getting some acne on my forehead, chest, and back, which is completely new to me. I've never had back/forehead acne, even when I was on Accutane.

When I was 19, I had a terrible breakout unlike anything I ever had before. Sure, I had the normal teenage acne- occasional zits that were cured with topicals. But this was different. I had huge cysts around my chin and lower cheeks and they just kept getting worse and worse in a very short period of time. After going on an antibiotic pill that did not end up working, the doctors resorted to Accutane. My sophomore year of college on Accutane was the most mentally challenging year of my life. For those of you on Accutane, beware! I have to say, in my case of severe acne, I probably needed to be on it. But, be sure your doctor is moderating you appropriately. I was being watched by a teaching hospital. Students were moderating me incorrectly and giving me too low of a dosage. I did not see results because of the dosage, and I acquired much more acne and scarring than I would have if I had a high dose from the start. Make sure you are seeing a good doctor! Secondly, make sure you have emotional support. I have always had a great support system and I've always been relatively social, but I found myself becoming more and more antisocial as the acne progressed. I found myself crying all the time. I remember clearly every time I called my Mom I would just start crying. I was depressed. I felt like my friends did not understand when I tried to open up to them about it. They thought, "it's just acne! It's no big deal!" But it was to me. I locked myself in my dorm room for a good 3/4 months until the Accutane started working. I covered my face with makeup every time I had to go to class. I avoided eye contact with people. When my face started clearing up, that certainly changed.

The emotional issues that go along with acne can be overbearing for young females. I used an blog during that time and found it extremely helpful. I could learn from people in my situation, and I knew that I was not alone. That's important to know. You are not alone! Also, your friends who you think don't understand you might be right. The truth is, everyone is hypersensitive to their own imperfections. Everyone has something they don't like about their physical appearance. When you look at other people with acne, do you judge them? Do you think they are lesser people? Of course not! You might feel a bit sorry for them, but you treat them just like you would treat everyone else. The truth is, no matter how bad it is, it's not as bad as you think. That's something that took me a long time to learn.

I'm back 5 years later at the age of 24. Why? Because about 6 months ago I suffered a similar break out to the one I suffered at 19. Before I get into my current state, I want to talk about what I have done since my Accutane treatment and until this point.

Accutane worked for me. I had completely clear skin when I finished treatment. Sure, I had the red hyper-pigmentation that I had to cover with make-up, but I no longer had cysts. My friends and family noticed a huge change in my behavior. I was back to myself. In fact, I was better than back to myself! Since I knew how bad things could be, I had a new sense of confidence. I was dating, I was meeting new people, I was more social than I ever was in my life (even before the acne). This lasted for about a year and a half. At that point, I would occasionally get cystic breakouts. None of them were terrible and they were treated through topicals. One thing I refused to take was antibiotics because I had taken way too many antibiotics throughout my life and I don't think it was healthy to keep taking them. From age 21-23 I was put on different topicals and another drug called Spironolactone. I was on Spironolactone for a good 8 or 9 months. I did help me tremendously with my hormonal acne. I was also on birth control pills. With that combination, my skin was very clear. I went off of Spironolactone when I was 22 and suffered breakouts in reaction to going off of it. I decided to give it some time and stay off, and my skin was completely clear for another year while I was only on birth control.

I hate taking drugs and medications. One thing that has been really tough for me through this process is that doctors all put me on medications. I didn't think there was any other option. I had been on birth control since Accutane and I felt that my body needed a break from it. I went off of it 9 months ago because my skin had been very clear for a long time, and I thought I could handle being off of it. Around this time, I was also looking into laser treatments to finally help with my hyper-pigmentation and scarring from Accutane. I thought I was finally finished with adult acne! BUT, I started getting small breakouts again. I didn't worry about it too much, and I decided to stay off of birth control. MISTAKE! About 4 months ago, I had a tremendous outbreak just like the one I had at 19. It happened very quickly, and in a matter of 2 weeks, I had full blown hormonal cystic acne on my chin and face. Interestingly, the emotional backlash I had was not as negative as it was at age 19. I just kept thinking, it has been worse than this! I'll be okay! I decided to go back to a skin doctor. Clearly, the birth control was helping my skin significantly, so I went on birth control again. They also immediately put me on antibiotic pills and spironolactone (because it helped in the past). While I was hesitant to go on antibiotics, I wanted to do everything I could to prevent going on Accutane again. Recently, I was on antibiotics for 2 weeks and it helped dramatically. However, when I stopped taking them, the acne popped up again. Currently, I am back on antibiotics and spironolactone. I am doing another round and I hope to stop antibiotics soon. The thing about antibiotics (which I learned a couple years ago), is that you start building a resistance and it doesn't help acne anymore.

The worst part about all of this is that I'm stressed. Stress does not help anything. I recently moved to a new city without a job. I found a job, but I know when I start working, I will be covering my face with makeup again, and worried about what other people think of me.

I am starting a blog again because this is something I have struggled with for 5 years. It sucks. I've realized that medications, topicals, and even Accutane, the so called "cure to acne", are short term fixes to the problem. If you have cystic hormonal acne, the causes go deeper. I have long been frustrated with my skin doctors and their approaches. But, I didn't know what else to do! I've decided to stay on birth control and wean off of antibiotics and spironolactone. While doing this, I am going to make some lifestyle changes. This blog will follow a more holistic approach to the treatment of acne.

I recently found a blog started by a lady who had a similar situation. She developed severe acne in her early 20s. Overtime, she did a lot of research, and through holistic means, she claims to have cured her acne. This is her website: . I will be using some of her tips. I will be changing my lifestyle by exercising more. I will also be cutting out most dairy and some gluten. In addition, I will be using natural cleansers and techniques instead of typical topicals that doctors prescribe.

Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions. I have been through the worst of it. While my skin has generally been great since Accutane, it is not uncommon to get a second wave like I'm getting right now. I know the emotional complexities of having adult acne, and if you have any questions for me, feel free to ask.

A few things I've learned:

-If your skin starts getting bad, don't wait to see a dermatologist! Acne can get bad VERY fast.

-Do everything in your power to stay off of Accutane! Take antibiotics and Spironolactone if you have to. They may be short-term, but they will regulate your acne so it doesn't get worse. During that time, you can experiment with lifestyle changes that will help in the long run.

-If you are on a medication, don't just stop taking it! I did this plenty of times because I hate medication. Each time, my body reacted with acne. Make sure you are being followed by a dermatologist. Run everything through them. Oftentimes, you can wean off of a medication so your body doesn't react strongly from a sudden shift.

-Stress really does affect acne. You might be stressed because you have acne, and this just makes the acne worse! How unfair! Try calming techniques including yoga, and meditation. Exercise is the best stress-reliever for me.


-A healthy lifestyle is key to healthy skin. When I drink alcohol excessively, I always break out after. When I was in college, I would always eat terrible foods during finals week. This made me break out.


-DON'T PICK YOUR PIMPLES. I still pick and pop, and it spreads bacterial and causes more pimples. I know this, but yet I still do it! I think that it will speed up the process, when really it makes everything worse! Sound familiar? I have decided to stop touching my face and picking (even just picking that excess skin). I'll let you know how it goes.

-Moisturize!!! Dry skin makes acne worse. Adult faces are different from teenage faces. Teenagers usually get acne because of oil. That is not the case with adult acne. Because of this, teenage remedies, such as those topicals containing alcohols, don't do it for adults. Moisturizing will absolutely help your acne!

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