I am 28 years old and didn't start breaking out until my early to mid-20s. It has consistently gotten worse over the past few years and I've recently just gotten totally fed up with it. I have cystic acne on the lower part of my face. It was not frequent, but when I got it, it was severe, painful, and always left hyperpigmentation. I have always tried to stay away from pills, prescriptions, etc. Here is the list of things I've tried:
Ziana and Aczone, coupled with blue light treatment. Worked well for about 9 months, then did nothing. Ziana also made my face super oily and gross.
Then I switched to the levulan blue light treatment. If you don't know what this is, it is an extreme topical treatment, where they basically put acid on your face, you sit under the blue light and then stay indoors for a week. My first session went really well and I was very happy. I was told it was temporary and I would have to go through it again (it's not painful, really, just a hassle) but they were thinking in terms of years later. However, a few months later, I was breaking out again. So I had another treatment with disastrous results. I ended up with phototoxicity (which happens when you don't stay completely out of the light while the medicine is active) and my face broke out so badly, I thought I would never go in public again. That was two months ago. After the photo-toxic reaction calmed down, I realized I needed to do something more than topicals, so I got on doxycycline. I can't swallow pills (I'm a baby, I know!) so I take the liquid. I have been on it for five weeks. It's been a really rough ride so far. I was (and still am) still breaking out, and in places I never break out at all (forehead, cheeks, etc). I added Benzaclin to the routine a few days ago, because my dermatologist told me the antibiotics really only fight inflammation. If you don't keep your pores clear, you will still break out. So that's what the Benzaclin is for.
I have noticed something about my skin: I am breaking out more frequently, but with less severity. It's very weird. I don't get huge, inflamed spots anymore, but smaller ones that go away in a few days. I guess that's progress, I don't really know. The left side of my face is totally clear, while the right side is still a total mess, especially because the Benzaclin makes my face so dry, so there is that to deal with.
Without the topical medicine, Doxy was making my oily skin even oilier. I don't know why. It was smoother, but it was still so oily. The Benzaclin takes care of that. I cannot say my skin is any better than it was before, though, because I have more breakouts to deal with than when I started, they just don't last nearly as long. I would say I've improved from a week or so ago, but it is so up and down. One day my face looks good, the next day it's bad for three or four days.
Are these results normal? I am going to give this the three months everyone says to give it and see what happens then. I don't believe my skin is as bad as some others', but it's persistent, ugly and annoying and I'm too old for this. If this doesn't work, I am going to highly consider accutane. But I will give this a fair shot and update with my progress. I will say, if you have moderate to severe acne, don't expect overnight miracles with this regimen. I was hoping for a miracle, but it just takes time, I guess.
I forgot to add, I take 100 MG of doxy twice a day, and use benzaclin in the morning and evening. I also want to say, if you are going to do this routine, it is UNGODLY EXPENSIVE without insurance, or with a high-deductible plan, like I have. I pay for all of it out of pocket. With a liquid doxycycline, you can only get a two week prescription at a time because it goes bad after two weeks. It's $250 every two weeks, and the benzaclin was $180. Definitely switch insurance plans (if yours is like mine) before you start taking antibiotics!