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


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#41 amorfati

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 05:20 PM

Day 82. Wow!

I've been traveling, so I haven't written much here. And you know, I think that it actually helps -- I obsess less about everything when I am not writing it all out. But, nonetheless, a progress report is in store. I should also say that traveling helps as I don't know anyone here, and thus am less prone to pick to make things look temporarily better.

Anyway, before I left, I picked up a bottle of tea tree oil. I don't know if that is what has done the trick, but I completely prevented three cysts in my chin from going anywhere. Sure my chin got a little dried out from it, but jeez, who cares -- that lasted about three days and was minorly ugly. I was soooo disappointed to start to feel these three bumps way underneath my skin, so I just kept loading the stuff on, and they just dematerialized. Sadly, I had FOUR other ones develop since then -- two above my lip, and two low on my forehead. No wait -- three on my forehead. Luckily though, these spots -- maybe they aren't really cysts, I don't know -- they are just hard lumps way under the skin -- stayed very small. I barely even touched them, and have been applying everything I can to get them to go away (BP+ tea tree oil in the day, RAM at night, lots of water, and two aleve a day) They are not unnoticeable, but they are coverable, which counts for a lot. And one on my forehead is still growing, ugh. Sadly, the real problem is that I still have so many red/brown marks in my Tzone. And today some goop came spewing out of an old cyst remainder that I thought had died a long time ago, without my even trying. Weird.

I have to say that I still don't understand why I'm getting so many cysts -- and why only cysts. From the sounds of it, you'd think I should go on accutane or something, but really, these are just hard bumps under the skin that often almost don't even get red, and I don't get other types of pimples for the most part. There is no way my acne is anywhere near severe. But it's bizarre. And I'd like it to stop!

BTW, when I think about it, I'm not sure how RAM can help the kinds of things I'm getting. I mean, they develop so far down, that it doesn't make sense that taking the top few layers off your skin would help...

#42 yazgirl

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 06:40 PM

Do you take any birth control? Just wondering because the cysts on your tzone sound like hormonal acne to me as I have experienced it myself this year. I am taking yaz birth control and it has helped a lot with hormonal cysts. Takes a long time for it to work (about 3-6 months) and it doesn't get rid of clogged pores, but maybe it will help with your hormonal cysts (I never get them anymore).

Good luck!

QUOTE (amorfati @ Oct 2 2008, 06:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Day 82. Wow!

I've been traveling, so I haven't written much here. And you know, I think that it actually helps -- I obsess less about everything when I am not writing it all out. But, nonetheless, a progress report is in store. I should also say that traveling helps as I don't know anyone here, and thus am less prone to pick to make things look temporarily better.

Anyway, before I left, I picked up a bottle of tea tree oil. I don't know if that is what has done the trick, but I completely prevented three cysts in my chin from going anywhere. Sure my chin got a little dried out from it, but jeez, who cares -- that lasted about three days and was minorly ugly. I was soooo disappointed to start to feel these three bumps way underneath my skin, so I just kept loading the stuff on, and they just dematerialized. Sadly, I had FOUR other ones develop since then -- two above my lip, and two low on my forehead. No wait -- three on my forehead. Luckily though, these spots -- maybe they aren't really cysts, I don't know -- they are just hard lumps way under the skin -- stayed very small. I barely even touched them, and have been applying everything I can to get them to go away (BP+ tea tree oil in the day, RAM at night, lots of water, and two aleve a day) They are not unnoticeable, but they are coverable, which counts for a lot. And one on my forehead is still growing, ugh. Sadly, the real problem is that I still have so many red/brown marks in my Tzone. And today some goop came spewing out of an old cyst remainder that I thought had died a long time ago, without my even trying. Weird.

I have to say that I still don't understand why I'm getting so many cysts -- and why only cysts. From the sounds of it, you'd think I should go on accutane or something, but really, these are just hard bumps under the skin that often almost don't even get red, and I don't get other types of pimples for the most part. There is no way my acne is anywhere near severe. But it's bizarre. And I'd like it to stop!

BTW, when I think about it, I'm not sure how RAM can help the kinds of things I'm getting. I mean, they develop so far down, that it doesn't make sense that taking the top few layers off your skin would help...



#43 amorfati

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 06:46 PM

I don't take HBC and in general, I don't really like the idea of it, for personal reasons -- mostly I don't want to put more estrogen in my body. I am thinking about considering it though -- also thinking about asking my doctor about Spiro. This is getting way ridiculous. Another one popped up on my forehead today! It's basically invisible, so no big deal, but still, what gives?

The thing about my cysts though is that they aren't timed around my cycle -- I mean, unless you count them coming at ovulation and when I have my period. I.e. all month long. I also have one in my earlobe (where my ear attaches to my neck), and literally in my ear. Also, is excess oil all the time hormonal?

But I also don't want to go off RAM having come this far. I keep thinking "if only" I hadn't started RAM...but then I remember that my skin was really getting worse and worse in the few months before I started it, so who knows what it would be like now if I hadn't started.

Also, I'm finally uploading some pics here. This is about 1 hr after washing my face and throwing some RAM on there to go to bed. Almost every single mark I have is from a cyst. But you can see how they start by looking at my forehead, where I have two active ones. I think that flash makes my face look slightly more oily than it is, but not by much!

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#44 amorfati

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 05:39 PM

Day 90!

Things are under control. I recently acquired some tea tree oil and that seems to help a LOT. I use it both with RAM and in the morning on any bumps that I feel emerging. I've had quite a few on my forehead (I think it was my forehead's turn to have its IB), and all of them have stopped somewhere short-> way short of becoming full blown problems. This makes me happy. Not including these things, I haven't had a problem zit appear in about 10 days. Hooray! (except for two in my ear, and a cyst like thing in my earlobe)

On the other hand, I am red marks city. And i am waiting and waiting and waiting for them to disappear. I know it will happen someday, but I am certainly not holding my breath at this point. Also, my nose is super splotchy now from that horrible breakout I had there at the beginning of Sept. God, that was awful.

Luckily, I actually look more or less like a normal person when I leave the house now. I am still really oily, and my skin is splotchy in terms of color (with concealer), but I don't look at myself and think, ack! pizza face! anymore.

Sadly, my skin was way better before I started RAM. I am banking on the fact that in another three months, things will change again. Otherwise this has all been for complete naught.

#45 amorfati

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 12:13 PM

Day whatever. (90something)

It's like a bad joke. I just got three new near/on the nose zits. I thought I was finished with those. And just when my face was starting to get clear. I hate these kinds of zits. They aren't cysts, but instead super deep wells of liquid pus that seem to form in the crevices of my nose. They HURT! Unlike with cysts, Tea Tree oil doesn't seem that effective? But Neosporin does. Luckily I have both in my arsenal. I am really really trying not to touch/pick them, but it's so hard given how much they hurt. Which also makes me feel like they must be huge.

I'm feeling pretty down about my RAM progress right now. My skin is definitely worse than when I started -- I think?!? I don't know really. It's also so oily which sucks. I definitely don't have severe acne, but I almost wonder if accutane wouldn't be right for me just to control the oil production?

I've even been taking Aleve this week for a knee problem, so there goes the theory that that helps (though maybe it does with cysts). wacko.gif

#46 amorfati

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 04:47 PM

Four days shy of the end of week 14. Are things better? Well, I GET more pimples/cysts, but I also not know how to control them. Or at least the ones I'm used to, which are are still coming in on my forehead. The three around my nose -- one if fine and healing, and the two on the other side have swollen the entire side of my face! Seriously, it's puffy. Luckily it seems like the infected, painful part of the one that is the real problem is going away. Neosporin has really helped here I think. But the area around (it is basically just on the cheek side of a crevice of my nose) is red and peeling/flaking and gross. I feel gross.


#47 didi78

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 02:12 PM

Hi! I used to get those cysts too, but a combination of Differin, tea tree oil, MaMa lotion, DIM supplements, zinc supplements, and Aleve (during my ovulation and PMS period) did the trick. I just started taking Yaz, which has a component of spiro in it. My skin seems much less oilier since I started Yaz. If you are really oily (skin and scalp), then yaz or spiro may help with that and also the cysts. I feel for you. Good luck!

#48 amorfati

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 03:51 PM

Thanks for the words of advice Didi. I have decided to add 2.5% BP to my regimen in the mornings for a bit and see how that works out, but if nothing comes of that, I am going to ask my Dr. about both Yaz and Spiro. Ugh, it is so ridiculous how much stuff we have to try to deal with all of this!

On the plus side, I realized today looking in the same bathroom mirrors that I would before my 2.5 week trip, from which I returned yesterday, how much better my skin is now than before I felt, even though I just got four new pimples 4-5 days ago (one cyst right inbetween my eyebrows!) Tea tree oil is really helping. Which to be honest, makes me feel like RAM is doing just about nothing. Which I know is not true -- it definitely has made my skin smoother to the touch, and it has definitely thinned my skin out, but I don't think it is helping in terms of preventing break outs at all.


#49 amorfati

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 09:45 AM

I can't believe it's been 100 days of Retin A Micro! Wow.

Today is a good day. I have only one pimple that is still scabby, unfortunately right between my eyebrows, but it is small and manageble. I still have a lot of peeling and redness around my nose from the three pimple attack of last week, but I'm pretty pleased at how quickly these have all come and gone. Basically, I feel like FINALLY, RAM is starting to work? Or at least, I am out of the IB period. My face of course still looks bad compared to others' simply because of all the red marks, but that is way better than being cyst-y all over.

Since I've returned from my trip abroad, my face has been much less oily during the day -- it might be weather related? That I've added 2.5% BP to my regimen every morning probably helps, but when I wake up in the morning, it's not grossly oily either, the way I've gotten in the past, even with RAM on overnight.

Also, I'm feeling like my acne might be hormonal after all, but I'm getting hit with waves of it twice a month -- once at ovulation, and once as a part of PMS. Ugh.

Finally, I've ordered the expensive but seemingly very effective MaMa lotion. My skin is smooth in texture, but is so splotchy at this point. I'm hoping that MaMa lotion will help with that. For those of you who have used it with retinoids, when should I apply it -- in the morning? I use RAM every night, so I was thinking MaMa every other morning at first.

Most importantly, psychologically I am doing so much better. I am no longer wanting to shy away from contact with people, not wanting them to get close to me, etc. Yay.

#50 amorfati

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 08:53 PM

Guess what? I hate to jinx it, but I have no zits on my face. Okay, I have LOTS of fading red marks, but no zits. This is the best my skin has been since I started RAM in JULY. No zits.

I mean, my skin is still far from perfect, but I no longer spend tons of time thinking about it, fearing running into people, being afraid of what my skin looks like at any particular moment to others, etc. It's great. We'll see how long it lasts, but I think I cam finally say that the IB is OVER.

Also, I got a bottle of the pricey but I hope worth it MaMa lotion. We'll see how that goes. I should take more pictures to track my progress.

But right now I'm really happy.

#51 amorfati

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 11:15 AM

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.

#52 amorfati

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 11:49 AM

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.

#53 amorfati

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 06:48 AM

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...

#54 amorfati

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 06:12 PM

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!


#55 Bokkie

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 05:47 AM

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

How about a photo update again? smile.gif



#56 amorfati

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 03:00 PM

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.


#57 mala_moja

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 07:00 PM

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.

#58 emperornext

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 01:01 PM

great journal. thank u for posting.

#59 amorfati

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 10:49 PM

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.

#60 B-rit

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 11:20 PM

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).