I started to have acne problems when I was 17, which was also triggered by stress and a period of emotional turmoil in school, when I began to ignore my skin - when I was 17, I did not bother to cleanse or moisturise. I just washed with water. By the end of the year, my forehead was covered with whiteheads, and my cheeks were dotted with many red pimples. There began my battle with acne... I made so many mistakes in an attempt to get rid of them, which caused more outbreaks and a worsening of my skin condition - Expensive facials + extractions, exfoliations, scrubs, toners, masks. I did all these things for about one and a half years before going to see my dermatologist when I was 19. She took a look at my skin, told me to throw out all the exfoliators, scrubs, toners, masks, and told me to quit facials. I did, and my skin cleared up dramatically in a month.
Part of the reason why my skin cleared up was also due to the tretinoin cream she prescribed for me. I followed a basic cleanse, moisturise, treat (3-step routine) day and night. I also used clindamycin gel as a spot treatment. At that time, I had no inkling about the potency of the tretinoin cream, so I just used it like a normal medication when I cleansed my face every night. After using it for about 3 months, I decided to quit using it since my face had no more pimples, and was so smooth. I also figured out that it was causing my skin to turn red and become very sensitive, which was part of the reason why I stopped using it.
When I turned 20, I stopped using retinoids altogether and enjoyed clear skin because I was undergoing a period of rest/lack of stress although I was in school. I started to use Differin on-and-off when I turned 21, since June 2011 and it worked like a charm for me until February 2012. I had a terrible outbreak of pimples on my cheeks and chin due to late nights, 4-5 hours of sleep, non-stop stress and emotional turmoil early this year. So I have gone back to Retacnyl Tretinoin (0.05%), albeit with much apprehension because I did not want to look like a boiled lobster.
I officially started on my retinoid journey on 29/03/2012 a few weeks before my final exams and it was an awful period of time from thereon. I have never been overly self-conscious about my acne before, but the breakout and initial breakout was that terrible. In April, I stayed at home most of the time; every morning, I would look at the mirror and notice flakes of dead skin concentrated around my chin and mouth. The initial breakout was non-stop and made all the whiteheads come to a surface, and I avoided going out as much as I can because: 1) I did not want to socialise and bump into friends due to the horrible condition of my skin (it never looked THAT bad before) and; 2) to avoid the sun because I live in a tropical climate where the weather is humid and hot all-year round. So it has been about 11 weeks since I started using Differin. At the end of 5 weeks, I got so discouraged by the initial breakout that I stopped using it for about 6 days - but I decided to suck it up anyway, and tough it through. My dermatologist switched my usual clindamycin gel with Isotrexin gel which is made up of erythromycin 2% and tretinoin 0.05%. I have faith in the treatment, having seen the good results in the previous years.
Here's my log (29/03/2012 - 08/06/2012):
29/03/2012 - 29/04/2012 ~ Differin Adapalene 0.1%, PM
30/04/2012 - 05/05/2012 ~ Rest period (off Differin)
06/05/2012 - 13/05/2012 ~ Retacnyl Tretinoin 0.025%, PM
14/05/2012 - 19/05/2012 ~ Retacnyl Tretinoin 0.05%, PM
20/05/2012 - 07/06/2012 ~ Differn Adapalene 0.1%, AM and Retacnyl Tretinoin 0.05%, PM
It's been about 11 weeks into my retinoid journey, and the scars from my initial breakout are fading away rapidly. Currently, there is a huge whitehead on my chin about to pop, three active red pimples on my left cheek. My problematic area, my rights cheek (which broke out horribly during the initial breakout) has no active pimples now, and is left with marks which are fading away rapidly and several comedones which are going to erupt soon. However, I am STILL breaking out in random places, but the intensity and amount is decreasing. Although there have been slow and steady results, I know there is still much room for improvement! I look forward to the day where my skin is flawless, when I do not have to use make-up at all while going out.
1) Cleanse with clinique liquid facial soap mild
2) Moisturise with my dermatologist's moisturiser
3) Pea-sized amount of Differin all over face
4) Isotrexin over problem areas
3) Pea-sized amount of Retacnyl all over face
4) Isotrexin over problem areas
Do not pick, do not scratch, stay out of the sun, patience and perseverance, gentleness, water must not be overly warm, moisturise generously, wait for at least 30 minutes after cleansing and moisturising prior to application of retinoid, use only a small pea and dot all over face in small dots and spread evenly all over face.
Edited by RoseLilium, 08 June 2012 - 12:33 AM.