Hi there, I'm a 19 year old college freshman struggling with acne issues. If you could please listen to my story and offer ideas, I'd appreciate it SO much. It probably makes most sense to start at the beginning.
I always had amazingly clear skin when I was younger. Even through puberty, which began early for me, I hardly broke out other than the occasional stray zit. It was when I was 15 and I started struggling with mental health issues that everything went downhill. I tried literally over 32 medications over the last four years, but the only thing that really worked was lithium. Changing medications would not at all be an option for me. The side effects suck, but the worst is definitely the acne. My skin type changed, too. My skin had been normal to dry when it was clear, before the lithium. It then became very oily.
That's when my acne started. Phases of painful, deep cystic acne came and went, but I always had breakouts all over my face, even when things weren't as bad as usual. My doctor put me on minocycline, which almost completely cleared up my skin. A few months later, I found out that I have liver disease (due to weight gain from psych meds), and immediately had to stop taking the minocycline. Of course, the breakouts returned, and although they usually weren't the severe cystic kind, they never left. I've lost a bunch of weight now, but of course my liver will always be a concern now, so minocycline is no longer an option for me, ever.
I've tried many different skincare regimens, and although some have worked better than others, none have come anywhere near fixing my acne problem. I tried Murad, Proactiv, and several other lines. My skin type isn't the super-oily situation I had going on when I first started the lithium. My skin is dehydrated with the occasional flaky patch (usually as a zit heals and disappears), with a thin layer of oil over the top. My skin appears shinier most of the time, but definitely lacks hydration.
Currently I'm using a combination of products from different skincare brands, which has kept my skin clearer than it would be otherwise, but hasn't come near clearing it up. I'm incredibly diligent about my skincare. I honestly can't remember a time in the last several years that I have skipped my skincare routine. I use wipes for makeup removal ONLY. I use a gentle all-purpose cleanser; I've found that if I use a treatment cleanser and a treatment product, it strips my super-sensitive skin and makes me break out more. I use an AHA liquid exfoliant several times a week, plus La Roche - Posay Effaclar Duo as a spot treatment. Depending on how dry/dehydrated my skin is, I use either an oil-free moisturizer or a light face oil (this actually helps my skin clear up, not break out, oddly enough). Not often enough, but occasionally, I use a mask. I love the Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud mask because it doesn't dry out my skin in the process of trying to suck out all the nasties, but does appear to make a difference.
As if that all isn't enough, I recently found out that I am Gluten Intolerant, too. Not sure if that has anything to do with it... I kind of doubt it since my acne didn't start until the lithium (though I've heard that lithium or other psych drugs may cause gluten intolerance?).
If you've read this entire ramble of a post, God bless you, you're a trooper. Sorry it got so long. I didn't want to leave anything out.
PLEASE offer your thoughts or ideas about my situation if you have any! I'm so frustrated by my skin, and although I know it could be far worse, I'm ready to do what it takes to make it better.