I have never posted on this forum before, only looked at others' posts when I needed encouragement. My skin is finally clear for the most part and I thought I'd share my success story in case it would benefit someone else the way reading these posts benefitted me.
I had pretty mild acne in high school and early college, but never anything to "write home" about. But in my early twenties (21, 22) I started to notice that I could never seem to go a day without a new pimple, and I was lucky if it was only one or two. I washed my face every morning and every night, didn't wear a ton of makeup, and generally took care of my skin, so I thought it would clear up on its own.
By the beginning of 2012, I realized it wasn't clearing up on its own - in fact, it was just getting worse. I started going to the tanning bed hoping it would "dry up" my acne - HORRIBLE IDEA. Stay out of the tanning bed! By the summer of 2012, I was getting a new cystic pimple every other day. I hated my skin and felt ugly and embarrassed to go out in public and would cry when I got home at the end of the day. It was humiliating, not to mention painful. The cystic bumps were red, swollen, and took at least a week or two to go away.
After consulting with a dermatologist, I started using Differin cream every night, Aczone under my makeup in the morning, and taking doxycycline every day at lunchtime. I started taking a multivitamin every day and drinking a lot more water. I also got cortisone shots in my cystic pimples as soon as I felt one coming on. On a couple of occasions, I used apple cider vinegar topically if I didn't have the cash for a cortisone shot and it worked really well too. For the first several weeks, my acne continued in the same manner as before and I considered giving up on this routine.
I'M SO GLAD I DIDN'T! After about 14 long weeks, my acne finally started clearing up and the doxycycline gradually put an end to my cystic pimples. I was left with a lot of hyperpigmention, but thankfully no deep scars (probably because I didn't pick at my skin.) I continued this regimen for a total of about 6 months and my skin continued to improve.
Recently my dermatologist prescribed Retin-A for me because I wanted a stronger retinoid than the Differin, and my skin is improving even more. The Retin-A is extremely drying though, so I only use it a couple nights a week and I use a thick non-comedogenic moisturizer called DML Forte every night. I also use a Clarisonic Mia facial brush every day with Cetaphil face wash (morning and night) and try to exfoliate once or twice a week to remove the dead skin that the Retin-A has turned over.
So that is my success story! I no longer cringe when I see my reflection - in fact, I'm pleasantly surprised because it has been years since my skin has actually looked healthy. After hating my skin for the better part of a year, I would never wish acne on my worst enemy - it was a nightmare - and I really hope someone gets encouragement knowing that your acne WILL get better!