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Retin-A Micro for occassional cystic acne (30, F)

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Day 105?

Things are finally starting to work for me. I have had a few tiny pimples in the last few days, but they are barely noticeable. My skin is no longer oily. My red marks are fading.

I've changed my regimen up a bit so that in the mornings, I alternate days of MaMa lotion and 2.5% BP, though I've only used the MaMa twice, and the BP only for about a week now, so I don't think that those things are necessarily behind my face getting much better. Someone commented the other day that I looked "better" or something like that, which I basically interpreted as, jeez, you no longer look like something is attacking your face. I feel SO MUCH better about my skin.

However, I do have tons of blackheads right now! They are not really visible, but I do squeeze them which I know is no good. Also, my skin is flaky from the MaMa lotion, but manageable. Finally, I am hopeful about having normal skin again. (My skin is basically back to where it was last March.) I have a tiny cyst thing near my ear, but you can't see it, and I can tell that it will not become problematic a la all of the others I've had in recent times. It's pretty amazing though -- I would say that my IB last from day 45 to day 95. AWFUL. I really did have 10 months of pimples in three month's time. I can't believe how devastating it was.

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Two days into week 16.

So basically week 15/16 has really been a huge turning point. Recently I have been looking at my skin in the mirror, thinking, "is that REALLY my skin?" It's amazing. Well, no, my skin is not amazing by most people's definition, but in comparison to where I was...Holy cow. I still have red marks, but it is smooth, and the areas that don't have red marks are definitely evening out in tone. I keep thinking about that article I read about someone's year on RAM, and how she wound up with the best skin of all of her friends within a year, even though she wanted to put a bag over her head for the first three months. I am hopeful that I can get there! I definitely think that my skin is now getting a little BETTER than it was before I started RAM. Just in terms of evenness.

The only problem is that I'm not sure what it is that is working. RAM? Tea tree oil? 2.5% BP? MaMa lotion? I definitely think that tea tree oil is a godsend for developing cysts. I actually have felt a few bumps in my chin area starting to develop (very tiny), and they've just gone away with some TT oil recently.

Even though RAM is now working (I guess?), I still think that the IB period is really rough, and it makes me upset that people have to go through that before things start working. At my age, it was just really devastating to be breaking out so badly. I can't believe how much time I spent thinking about my skin from say the middle of Aug to the middle of Oct. Even though I still have red/brown marks, I no longer worry about people seeing me up close, etc. Mostly when I think about my skin, it's actively wanting to look in the mirror to see how much better it has gotten. I also have a new appreciation for how people don't notice the small marks that I used to think they did. In the sense that I think I have a much better understanding of my skin in many ways than I did before I went through this (not just RAM, but developing adult acne), I'm glad to have gone through it. I always used to make my skin worse by picking at things that didn't even need to be picked at (blackheads mostly), and now I know 1. not to pick/that I really can't pick and 2. how to take other steps to feel in control of my skin. On the other hand, I had no idea about how psychologically damaging acne could be, and it makes me sad that that part happened to me.

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First day of week 17 -- everything is great!

I did get a cyst on my chin, but it was softer than others, and, after I doused it with Tea Tree Oil, never became inflamed or a problem at all (until a bit now, as the TTO kind of burns the skin off and makes it leave a red mark.) And I had another regular pimple underneath my jaw. Aside from those, neither of which were a big deal, I've got nothing going on.

Okay, I do have a lot of blackheads, though they seem to maybe be going away? One thing I did notice is that if I squeeze around the corners of my nose, nothing comes out anymore, which is kind of amazing.

Right now I am a happy RAM customer. Red marks slowly fading...

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Middle of week 18. I seem to have made it through my monthly hormonal cycle relatively clear. I did have one feeling like a cyst thing in the corner of my nose. It hurt, but never came to the surface or did much damage, and is now on its way out.

Aside from that, I have a ton of blackheads and tiny pimples, but compared to my skin before, they are a piece of cake. STILL have red marks from my IB -- it would be great if they could go away at some point! But generally, so long as I don't pick (tempting, since the blackheads pop out so easily), my face looks pretty good -- it is about where it was before things started getting bad last spring, definitely better than before I started RAM and I was getting major cysts.

Oh, also, I know this is horrible, but I've stopped using moisturizer/sunblock. I'm never outside for more than a few minutes, and my skin doesn't seem to need the moisture.

Good luck to everyone reading!

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Thank you for a great blog! It really is an inspiration for a newby on Differin....

How about a photo update again? :)


Skin Care: As little as possible...


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Hey Bokkie --

I'm glad that my log is useful for you. Thinking back on my experience, I am really grateful for all of the info I've gotten from this site (my doctor's directions for RAM: squirt out an inch and use that much every night, that was all -- no warning about IB, no nothing), so I'm happy to give back. I will try to update with photos soon.

Anyway, not surprisingly, I wound up getting a cyst just before my period this month (a few days ago). It wasn't nearly as bad as the ones I was getting earlier, but it's definitely there. Not too unslightly though. Basically I judge all of these things by the amount of time I spend worrying/depressed about them, and with this, it is not that much. So yay. Mostly I am hoping that it goes away without leaving a red mark. My skin also got way oilier around my cycle, but c'est la vie I suppose. I'm going to stick with what I'm doing for another few months to see how it goes before doing anything else. I can deal with one unslightly zit a month.

I am also going to try the Oil Cleansing Method at night. I started last night, with 75% castor oil, 25% jojoba oil. My skin definitely felt great afterwards, but that is not the true test of course.

Still using MaMa every other day in the mornings, and 2.5% BP the other days. And my skin is still a kind of lovely glow-y color. Sometimes I think I should put on makeup to even things out, but frankly, I think my skin looks better with just tiny dabs of concealer as necessary and bare everywhere else. Then again, I'm not much of a makeup person.

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Glad to know you're doing well. I'm on retin-a and it's been a complete nightmare so I know what you've been going through. I'm so happy that you've had success because it makes me hopeful. I'm on week 8 and no more horrible IB but also no improvement from before I started, except that my skin feels smoother to the touch (I want it to look better I don't care about touch lol).

I see you use tea tree oil. Do you use it at night with retin-a? I got this cream that has tea tree oil in it and was thinking about putting that on before retin-a at night.


My regimen.

Morning

Wash face with Purpose Gentle Cleanser.

Erythromycin gel then BP 2.5%

Then Purpose moisturizer.

Night

Wash face with VitaSkin Cucumber Milk Wash.

Spot treat with VitaSkin ClearDerm cream (with tea tree oil)

Retin-A .025%

Moisturize if needed 20 minutes after.

Daily: multi-vitamin, 50mg zinc, a multi-enzyme probiotic formula supplement, tri-sprintec


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It's been a while since I've posted, which sadly is not an indication that everything has been picture perfect. In fact, I've had a number of small(ish) cysts around my nose recently. Crap.

The good news is that the red marks from my IB are finally fading, and all of the new pimples, etc. are so much better, not simply because they are smaller, and come and go faster (still not fast for the cysts, but faster), but because my skin is SMOOTH. A big part of this is the Retin-A + MaMa combo, but also I've changed up my products/regimen a bit, which I think is helping.

Primarily, I try to be much more sparing these days with the Tea Tree oil, which definitely zaps cysts, but also leaves my face kind of burnt. Oil cleansing method is definitely keeping things smooth, and I've changed my moisturizing as well. When I started on RAM, I bought a bottle of Olay Complete Moisture SPF 15 (I think that's it), which is oil free, non-comedogenic, and barely a moisturizer as well. Maybe this wasn't a bad idea for the humid summer, but I actually stopped using this in the fall because my face continued to be super oily, and I felt that I didn't need an additional moisturizer. Well, I'm not sure if it is the cold weather, or the addition of oil cleansing method at night, but my face has all of a sudden stopped being so oily, and sometimes I even wake up a little flakey. But instead of going back to the Olay, I am now trying a drop or two of straight jojoba oil where needed (I use 25% jojoba in my oil cleansing at night), which I really think is helping things heal faster/not get so flaky.

And of course, still the best thing to do for clear skin is DO NOT PICK. Still so much easier said than done, but having smooth smooth skin makes it a lot easier. I am crossing my fingers that by New Years (my approximate six month mark), my skin will be clear and red mark free.

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I have been reading your log over and over again since I started using RAM. I just started my sixth week and things are horrible. My face is breaking out and is so irritated.

I hope I have good results like you have.

How long do you feel your IB lasted? The unbearable IB>... not the breakouts that come and go while on this treatment. I have been breaking out since I started, but this is just so hard (watching my skin fall apart in front of my eyes).


Starting Accutane on Jan. 16th!!!!!! :)


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Hi Brit --

You probably don't want to hear this, but my IB lasted about 7 weeks. It was terrible. My acne is way different than yours (I just read your log) -- I get cysts and nothing but them, you seem to get simple inflamed pimples but lots of them -- so I might not be a good comparison. But I really feel your pain. I remember the itching, the oily-ness, etc. It was just so awful. I was close to stopping RAM all together, but I'm really glad I didn't.

The one thing that I'm doing that I'd imagine could be useful for you is oil cleansing method (just google it).

Good luck!

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Ugh! Two new big cysts on my face -- one on my forehead, one on my chin. (Not yet red, so basically an invisible lump) And one on my neck (retin-a untreated area), by my ear. WTF is going on with my skin? How do you get cystic acne at 30? None of this was a problem a year ago! (Started just about last April). Frustrating. I am almost through 5 months of RAM. Isn't this supposed to not be happening anymore?

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Maybe you should go on a higher % of retin-a. Most people have to gradually go up to keep the benefits. I'm thinking of upping my dose soon but am afraid that I will get another IB. Does anyone know if you get another IB if you up the percentage?

Also, does anyone know if tee tree oil interacts with retin-a? I've been using it at night with retin-a, but I started to wonder if it's just like using retin-a with benzoyl peroxide...they cancel each other out.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


My regimen.

Morning

Wash face with Purpose Gentle Cleanser.

Erythromycin gel then BP 2.5%

Then Purpose moisturizer.

Night

Wash face with VitaSkin Cucumber Milk Wash.

Spot treat with VitaSkin ClearDerm cream (with tea tree oil)

Retin-A .025%

Moisturize if needed 20 minutes after.

Daily: multi-vitamin, 50mg zinc, a multi-enzyme probiotic formula supplement, tri-sprintec


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Maybe you should go on a higher % of retin-a. Most people have to gradually go up to keep the benefits. I'm thinking of upping my dose soon but am afraid that I will get another IB. Does anyone know if you get another IB if you up the percentage?

Also, does anyone know if tee tree oil interacts with retin-a? I've been using it at night with retin-a, but I started to wonder if it's just like using retin-a with benzoyl peroxide...they cancel each other out.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

I am thinking about going up to a higher %age -- thanks for the suggestion. I don't think that you get another IB though, as everything has ostensibly already purged.

Also, I am almost positive that tea tree oil doesn't interact with RAM.

Though actually, just for my own notes, the last two nights, I haven't put RAM on my new cysts at night, and instead doused them in 10% BP and neosporin. Results are pretty good so far!

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More cyst updates: wow. I am actually really impressed with how these two cysts have done. One I first noticed very under the surface on Wed., the other on Thurs. On Friday I had two big lumps but no skin breakage/peelage, and they are both on their way out without any scabbing. I think that the oil cleansing method has really been helping, and the application of neosporin with BP to keep them moist, and no tea tree oil. Huh.

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I have a lot of cysts right now (day three of my period) and I HATE it. They itch. And are red.

What they are NOT is huge and scaby, but they suck, suck, suck. 2.5 active, 2.5 disappearing (one is inbetween) Plus every single time anything touches my face it leaves a red mark.

My doctor has written me a prescription for 0.1% RAM. We'll see how that goes. I'll probably pick it up on Friday. She says (via email) "if that doesn't work, we'll send you to dermatology." Thanks.

Also, I didn't do oil cleansing method last night -- just washed with Cetaphil, and my skin was worse today for it -- or at least flakier and redder. The one nice thing about my skin now is that it feels great to the touch -- so soft, not oily, not flaky. Which I totally attribute to OCM. I feel like it's the only thing that's produced any real changes.

Boo!

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Dear Amorfati, what can I say?? wuaw!!! you have gone thru an amazing journey! and you have been so patient!! I can believe it! I really aplause the goats you have to stick with the retinoid!

I am in about week 6 on my treatment with Retin-A, I am 30 years old and started developing acne around 3 months ago, and i has been horrible! Iwould get papules, cysts, a very inflammed acne!, so when I saw that nothing was working, I decided to go with the Derm, so around 7 weeks ago he prescribed an antibiotic, cetaphil soap and the retin-A.

I started with a .025% and after week 3 I swithched to .05%.

I got the IB around weeks 3 - 5, but I guess that since I am taking an oral antibiotic this helped. I am also on the pill called Diane to get my hormones balanced, I also had to take the plan B pill and here is when my acne developed!, what a terrible pill!! I will NEVER take it again!

Anyways, around 3 weeks ago I started to use ACV (50%-50%) after washing my face, I was skeptical at first but decided to give it a try, and I can tell you, I saw a difference the first week!, my skin was smoother and I could see the red marks fade slowly. In 3 weeks I have developed 3 pimples, whiteheads, 2 in my cheek and one beloe the nose which I popped a while ago :doh: , but for my 3 pimples in 3 weeks is amazing!

I guess it is the combination of all things I am doing, but I am loving ACV, I can really see my red marks fading, and believe me, I have lots of them! my face looks as you said a battle field!

I also get upset for getting acne at this age, but reading you log really gave me hope and I can tell that I am very proud of you, it is amazing how you have stick with it.

Please keep posting what happens in your jorney.

Best wishes! :D

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Thanks for the nice note Maleka. What is ACV? Apple Cider Vinegar? Hmm. Also very interesting to hear that this all started for you with a Plan B pill. I too will never ever take it again. I have never had acne like this, ever.

I love that everyone says "wow you are amazing for sticking through it." Well, maybe my patience is amazing, but my skin looks like crap. But I don't know what else to do...

We'll see if the 0.1% RAM helps.

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I feel like this is the worst breakout I've had since my IB finally finished in October. But here is the good news -- the cysts are smaller, softer, and they actually go away. Yesterday I felt like my face looked absolutely horrible -- huge bright red marks all over. (Nothing else ever happens with my cysts/pimples any more -- just a big red circle) Today: not SO bad. Once again I didn't put RAM on my active cysts last night and instead used a ton of 10% BP on them...seems to have helped.

Plus using a real moisturizer (jojoba oil, as needed) really really helps the cysts, in that they never crack, get scabby, etc.

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Dear Amorfati:

Yes, ACV is apple cider vinegar, it has helped a lot! I do not get 2 to 3 zits every week, or even less, this is great for me, eventhough I hace tons, tons of red marks all over, so looks like I have active pimples, but not. My skin is very soft to the touch, and right now I do not feel a bump anywhere, which again, it is great for me! I will continue de ACV with the Retin gel, and all the things I am doing to stop this.

I can tell you, my nightmare started after I took that pill! bad idea :doh: but I can not do anything right now about it, just continue with the treatment and hope for the best to come.

How are you doing? you are a bit more than 3 months right?

I am blessed that I am not getting those big big zits anymore, and hope to continue like that, but the red marks are bothering me a lot!, the ACV helps so I hope to continue seen results.

Let me know also how your red marks are doing.

Maleka

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I am FIVE months in at this point. A bit more. Man.

Switched to 0.1% RAM last night. I don't like that's it's much more of a white film than a clear gel, but that is obviously a small price to pay. Today was a MaMa lotion day (which I don't think is doing anything, btw, probably will not repurchase), and my face was definitely a little irritated from the combination of the two when I washed it off during my shower around 6 pm. Maybe that means it is actually doing something?

Only time will tell! Otherwise I still have about three red spots that I really want to go away. No active anything though, yay.

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So are you clear now! That is great!

I have right now one little one in my chin, and the onw I had in my cheek is healing, and another one trying to come, but it is different, it is just like a red mark but I do not feel a bump or anything, plus of course all the red marks I have from previous pimples, I hate them! :redface:

Anyways, I really fell like the Retin is working plus the ACV. I have a doctor's appointment this coming friday.

Good look amorfati, I ma happy to now your are doing better! :surprised:

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No, I'm not "clear." I still have red marks, and I'm definitely not convinced that just because I have a pause in cysts, I won't get anymore. I feel like I will be "clear" when I go a month or so without more than one major zit at a time. Not there yet.

But, I can tell that the increased strength retin-a is helping. This is probably the best my skin has looked since I started.

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So, Christmas day will be the end of my TWENTY FOURTH WEEK on retin-a. Insane.

The higher strength RAM is definitely doing something...my skin feels smoother, and it is definitely more peely, especially around active spots when I wake up. I also just got a round of cyst like things (one smack dab in the middle of the bridge of my nose, thanks, and two on my chin), but they never get inflamed. I have a few other things on my chin that are tiny tiny tiny hard lumps under my skin, definitely not inflammed, but they are slightly red on the surface. Mostly these cyst like things are never even a problem until they start peeling, from the retin-a, and then the skin turns a bit red.

Which is indicative of the real problem I'm having right now: the entire center area of my face is so goddamn red! Not all over, but everywhere I've had a cyst/pimple in the last say 8 weeks, and seemingly everywhere that a particle of dust or something hits my face, I get some sort of red mark. Luckily my skin in this area is extremely smooth, and it all covers up easily, but I swear that areas that haven't seen pimples in weeks have gotten redder since I switched to a higher strength. Or maybe I'm just seeing things?

Also, my face is pretty sensitive right now. I wore some mascara tonight and it was making my eyes water all over, and then it hurt to touch the area around my eyes. I've been keeping up with alternating MaMa and 2.5% BP pretty regularly -- maybe I'll cut back on that. I do know that my skin has been LOVING oil cleansing method and using jojoba oil as a moisturizer. And I love doing the whole routine as well. Somehow it makes me feel like I have some control over my skin, and it definitely looks it best right after it's been steamed.

God I miss having decent skin.

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OMG, I HATE RETIN-A.

Seriously, this is ridiculous. I mean, maybe this is a second IB but I think it is ABSURD for my skin to be worse six months into this than it was when I started. I hate my skin so much right now -- the sides of my nose and above my top lip are super red despite not having had cysts/pimples there in weeks, and then my skin is a battleground of cysts and awful peeling around them. I am so peel-y right now and it seems like the skin that comes off leaves red underneath. Ugh. I hate this.

Also, I just looked back through my log, and it seemed like my skin was the best when I was just doing RAM and 2.5% BP -- and Cetaphil to wash. I'm thinking about maybe returning to that? Ditching OCM...ditching MaMa. And I really really need to drink more water. So I am really going to try to focus on that too. I feel like I am back at the stage in which I am actually praying.

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