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I haven't posted in a long while, mainly because my skin hasn't really been an issue. Took a lot of time of trial and error to figure out what works for my skin. I still don't have perfectly clear skin, I probably never will, but I'm okay with that. What I have found key to keeping my skin clearer is using a chemical exfoliater with continued use of benzoyl peroxide. I have a clarisonic (manual exfoliator) but that seems to make me break out when I use it. What I currently do first is wash my face with a cleanser and make sure all my makeup is removed. I have found the cleanser really isn't that important but I do opt for a soap free/ph balanced cleanser at the moment. Then I apply 10% benzoyl peroxide to my breakout areas, let it dry, then I use cerave moisturizer with spf for normal to dry skin. At night I make sure to remove all my makeup,usually I have to use a makeup remover wipe and wash my face, then I use a 20% peel pad on my face (I'm using the Peter Thomas Roth 'un-wrinkle' pads which is a combo of glycolic, lactic, salicylic and linoleic acid.) Let it stay on for a few minutes (up to 10 minutes but you have to build to this) then rinse. Depending how my skin feels I'll apply benzoyl peroxide and some moisturizer and that's it. Once a week I use a 40% glycolic peel on my skin. Don't do this until your skin can at least tolerate the 20% peel without peeling and irritation. My skin has a high tolerance for products now so even the 40% doesn't make my skin get irritated. I used to get bad cysts and very clogged pores that would turn into breakouts. I don't necessarily do the same thing to my skin every day. Sometimes I don't use the benzoly peroxide if my skin is starting to feel dry. It's all about reading your skin, you have to keep it balanced. Too oily or too dry are both bad.

My skin has been relatively clear until the weather started getting much cooler. Seems like every time this year all my pores and I mean EVERY pore becomes clogged with blackheads. I can even see extremely tiny pores clogged along my jawline (and yes I have a bad habit of analyzing every inch of my skin) which have been causing painful whiteheads to form there. I've tried tazaorc at night to clear them, doesn't work. I tried using Paula's choice 2% bha and that had no effect on them so I think my only option is to try to manually remove this nastiness. I've been using Boscia's black mask which is a peel off mask kind of like biore strips once a week and also murad blackhead clearing duo which actually are showing some promise. After using those I alternate using the 2.5% bp during the day and .05% tazaorc at night, unless my skin starts to sting some and then I don't apply either. I also started taking a multivitamin again and upped my vitamin D3 to 4000. My skin is looking clearer even after a week but we'll see....

My skin has been relatively clear until the temperature started getting much cooler. Seems like every time this year all my pores and I mean EVERY pore becomes clogged with blackheads. I can even see extremely tiny pores clogged along my jawline (and yes I have a bad habit of analyzing every inch of my skin) which have been causing painful whiteheads to form there. I've tried tazaorc at night to clear them, doesn't work. I tried using Paula's choice 2% bha and that had no effect on them so I think my only option is to try to manually remove this nastiness. I've been using Boscia's black mask which is a peel off mask kind of like biore strips once a week and also murad blackhead clearing duo which actually are showing some promise. After using those I alternate using the 2.5% bp during the day and .05% tazaorc at night, unless my skin starts to sting some and then I don't apply either. I also started taking a multivitamin again and upped my vitamin D3 to 4000. My skin is looking clearer even after a week but we'll see....

I wanted to wait awhile before I posted my experience with stopping my birth control pill and my acne. I had tried numerous dietary changes to try to fix my cystic acne, some showed a little promise (avoiding caffeine) but nothing was stopping the cystic/nodular acne completely. I stopped taking my birth control pill may 20th, it's July 27th now, so nearly 2 months later and I have not had a cyst since stopping. Amazing. Still dealing with hyperpigmentation but I've had 2 normal periods as well, each time I only got 1 pimple during that time. So for anyone experiencing cystic acne while on the pill, it could be the pill. My doctor did give me a script for a different birth control pill to try "Trinessa" but I am araid to even try another one now. I had been taking birth control pills since I was 18 and who knew they were probably exacerbating my acne the entire time -_- I had suggested quite some time ago to my dermatologist that maybe it's my birth control pill that is causing my severe acne and she blew it off and said all birth control pills work the same so it doesn't matter which one you're on. So frustrating. I attached some pictures to show the difference in my skin. Even the bad pictures don't truly show the severity or pain of the cysts/nodules since they were all under the skin, I do have some light powder on in the newer photos but the difference is there. Also, all I have been following for a regimen is cleansing with clearsil ultra 2x a day, Olay moisturizer 2x a day and tazorac at night to fade the red marks.

I'm 25 now and I started taking birth control pills back when I was 19 because I would get migraines and terrible cramps, I always had mild to moderate acne (non-cystic) throughout high school which I contribute also to wearing cheap makeup and sweating a lot from sports and not being able to wash it off right away. My gyno tried ortho tri-cyclin first and it made my acne way worse, so then I took Yaz for about a year which did not show improvement or worsening of acne (also I had none of those scary side-effects you see on commercials now), then I was switched to mircette which I don't remember it affecting my skin much, I do know I never got cystic acne till I took Lo-loestrin (microgestin fe1/20) which is medium androgenic so bad for people prone to acne and have no idea why my gyno thought it would be good for my skin. But anyways, since I never really saw an improvement in any birth control pill and have no risk of getting pregnant currently (lol) I'm stopping mine today.

So, near the end of december I had a very stressful day at work and felt a cyst coming (and I have gotten cysts over the years, like one or two every couple months), over the course of the next few months I kept getting cystic acne along my jawline and under it. I kept going back to the dermatologist to get them injected and slathering on topicals. I eat very healthy, exercise. I ate a paleo diet for awhile, never tried going vegetarian but food doesn't seem to have much of an affect on my skin so I began to think, my acne has been fairly consistant since 9th grade, when I started drinking coffee daily, cup in the morning and sometimes a cup after dinner. A month ago I decided to quit caffeinated coffee cold turkey and I rarely ever drink soda so that was my only real source of caffeine, I have been drinking green tea which still does have caffeine in it but since I stopped with the coffee I have not gotten a new cyst. It's not the dairy either cause I drink goat milk and used coconut milk creamer in my coffee or drank it black. So I can only attribute this to the fact that for me, too much caffeine = too much stress hormones = cystic acne! Just wanted to share this in case someone else wanted to try.

My Story

Well my "journey" with acne has pretty much been my whole life, a good portion of it anyways. Right when I came out of my mother I was blessed with acne on my cheeks. My grandma said the same thing happened with my father so you can already guess I have my father's skin. The acne as a newborn left small scars on my cheeks, they just look like large pores today and they have never bothered me. But I can remember being in 2nd grade and a girl in my class would look at me and poke at her cheeks, teasing me over them. What did I know as a 7 year old? I thought that's just the way I am and would laugh it off. It's only when other people say something about my skin that has made me feel self concious. I started to get acne in 5th grade, nothing major, 6th grade it started to get worse, just breaking out on my forehead and I'd take my mothers make up to cover it up. I also started playing sports then, and I sweat way more than the average girl when I exercise. I started to see a dermatologist in 7th grade, she'd put me on the standard tetracycline with creams that irritated and dried my skin up so bad I'd have to ask to go to the bathroom just to apply more lotion to soothe my face. After numerous visits to the dermatologist with no success, I gave up on them. The dermatologists I saw were against accutane and my mom would not allow me to take it even if they had. Tetracyclines have never had any impact on my acne, it's like my body is immune to it. My skin does clear up completely from peniciilins and sulfa antibiotics though. Throughout high school I had acne but nothing that really made me worry, I'd use benzoyl peroxide products, I kept thinking I'll grow out of this. I didn't let it affect what I did, I played a ton of sports and had friends, never affected me having boyfriends. My family was never really understanding though, my brother would say things like "you need to go tanning to get rid of that" and my mom never had acne in her life, she'd tell me to go put some makeup on if I was going out in public with her without anything covering my blemishes. After I graduated high school I began seeing a gynecologist, even though I hadn't had sex yet. I had her check my hormones thinking maybe this is the cause of my acne. No, always checked out fine. I had seen all the ads for Yaz and asked her for a script for that, so began my first birth control pill. It did nothing, my acne didn't get worse or better. I've never been one to get acne around my period, I just get it randomly. I switched birth control pills 2 more times, I tried pretty much every product out there from low end to high end, to everything a dermatologist can prescribe. I'd go through phases of somewhat clear skin to 10 cysts popping up overnight. When I was 22 I saw a dermatologist who pretty much only prescribes accutane for all acne. He sat me down in a room and made me feel like crap, saying look at how bad your skin is, you need to take accutane. I wasn't ready and just felt that my skin wasn't that bad and he was a jerk doctor. After that I moved to Arizona for a year, my skin barely broke out during that time and I ate like CRAP, soda everyday, fast food, dairy, I will say I didn't drink coffee at that time though. I was also very relaxed while living there. I moved back to Michigan after that and the first week back my skin broke out. At 25 now, my skin now only breaks out on my lower cheek/jawline area and chin. The dermatologist I see now tells me that's just where adults get acne. Benzoyl peroxide does help dry up my acne, and tazorac has kept me scar free besides some hyperpigmentation. My skin had been doing so well, then january hit and I suddenly had all these clogged pores, then cysts developed, literally OVERNIGHT and tiny whiteheads all in my trouble areas. I've tried doing the paleo diet, no dairy, no grains, just vegetables and meat, low iodine diet, vitamin B5, loading up on every vitamin out there, probiotics and my mind is so determined that I never crave anything I give up, and I'm pretty sure I just scare my family with the way I eat. I still stay away from dairy and grains now even though I don't believe it affects my acne for better or worse, but i'll still have some potatoes or gluten free oats once in awhile. I've been food allergy tested, all negative, but I'm sure I have food intolerances. Certain things I eat make me get congested (not just dairy products) and when I eat yogurt my face tingles like it's getting a rush. I believe my skin problems are from my stomach being irritated. I had an EGD done before because multiple doctors have thought I have acid reflux (even though I have never had heartburn), and every time I take an acid-reducing medication my symptoms become worse and actually make me develop heartburn. The scope of my stomach showed that its inflamed. So I can only conclude that I've damaged my stomach over the years, either by eating poorly, painkillers or use of antibiotics. Now let me bring my father back up, I have his skin, though you wouldn't know because his skin has always looked clear to me, just rough, not scarred at all though. He had acne when he was younger and even at 60 years old tells me he still gets a pimple sometimes. He says every topical product out there breaks his skin out and he can only wash with basis for sensitive skin soap. Well yesterday I just about had it at the dermatologist because I have been going through a bad breakout and I began crying in the room while talking to the dermatolgist. Just over the frustration of my skin, how what once had been keeping my skin somewhat clear no longer has any effect on my skin it seems. So I'm on bactrim for a month now because I really can't deal with looking at my skin at the moment, and I'm just going to use the basis soap from now on, no sunscreen, moisturizer or jojoba oil (any oil breaks me out). My skin just seems so sensitive to everything anymore but I guess I can be thankful I don't get acne on my body and I don't have scars. I wish I didn't have to wear makeup but I have no confidence if I don't when I'm out in public. Thankfully where I work I don't feel the need to wear makeup unless my skin is awful so I really try to minimize having to wear makeup. In a month from now I may decide to take accutane. I've heard success rates of acne not coming back for adults are higher when they take accutane and I really am just tired of slathering crap on my face, popping another pill, restricting myself from so many foods that it makes my family worry about my weight for the rest of my life to keep my skin in control.

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