A little background: I had very mild acne in high school, but nothing a little Clean and Clear couldn't handle. In college, my skin got worse due to stress. I started taking birth control as a personal decision, and my skin was IMMACULATE. I never realized how great my skin was until.... I changed my birth control in January 2012, which triggered my acne. Unfortunately, I exacerabted the problem by switching forms of birth control another two times in the next three months, even switching mid-cycle at one point. I realize how incredibly stupid this was now and have been on Ortho TriCyclen for three months straight now. Sadly, my acne has remained. I tried to spot treat my acne with benzoyl peroxide and AHA/BHA peels. While both treatments helped acne that had already surfaced on my face, it wasn't preventing new pimples from forming. I was scared to use Retin A because of the initial breakout I had read about, but after 5 months of dealing with horrible skin, I knew I needed to treat the problem systematically. I've been using Retin A Micro for 5 weeks now. I started with the generic tretinoin cream and switched to RAM because I noticed the ingredients in the cream are very comedogenic. I also increased my percentage from 0.05% to 1% because my skin seemed to tolerate the .05% fairly well. During the first 3-4 weeks, I experienced a fairly severe initial breakout. Whereas my hormonal acne had been located primarily on my chin, jawline, and around my mouth, I now had acne spreading up the sides of my lower cheeks. I had around 6-8 large, deep pimples and tons of tiny comedones sprinkled across my face. My nose and forehead were the only areas that remained clear. This was incredibly difficult to deal with as I work in an office of all women- most of whom have long outgrown acne. I cry on the way to work, and I've avoided a lot of social activities. My makeup looks awful.
I am at the end of week 5 now, and while I still have a lot of tiny pimples across my lower cheeks, the large, deep pimples have decreased from 6-8 to about 3-4. My doctor also prescribed me Benzaclin to use in the mornings.
I knew when I started using RAM regularly that I shouldn't expect an instant miracle, but I'm getting so frustrated. I feel like I have decent days where my skin is tolerable. I get my hopes up that maybe my skin has taken a turn for the better, but then I wake up the next morning and I've got 4 new pimples. You can see this in the pictures below... My skin looked better at the end of week 4 than it does now, at the end of week 5. I know I should be happy that I don't have any big swollen pimples or the AWFUL clusters of red, inflammed zits at the moment - but my cheeks are covered in tiny, closed comedones. And I might as well have big pimples because the red marks left over from old pimples look just as bad. I'm peeling, itchy, and feel UGLY. UGLY UGLY UGLY.
Reading about other people's experiences, getting encouragement, advice, etc... is the only thing that's pushing me through this horrible experience. I just want my old skin back.
I'm going to keep track of my progress with posts and pictures. Hopefully when I get frustrated with my skin, I'll be able to look at my posts and pictures and see little bits of improvement to keep things in perspective. The photos below progress from Week 2 - Week 5.
Granted, I picked really bad before the Week 5 picks. It's awful, I know. So compulsive though. I literally cannot stop myself.
Here is my skin care routine at the moment:
AM - Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser - Clindamycin-Benzoyl Peroxide Gel - Neutrogena Combination Skin Moisturizer
PM - Cetaphil Daily Cleanser - Wait 20 minutes - Pea sized amount of RAM - Wait 1 hour - Kheil's Avocado Eye Cream - Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion before bed
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You are not ugly, at all. And it will get better! It's totally normal for it to get better and worse, but one day you will be amazed at how glowing and even your skin is!