After lurking anonymously on this site for many years, I've decided to finally introduce myself! This will be a really long post, but hopefully some of you will stick with it
I'm Sarah. I'm 19 and I've suffered allegedly moderate (although I would consider it severe sometimes) acne since I was about 12. I can actually still remember the day I got my first pimple - it was Grade 6 and I was 12. There was just one, but I practically hid all day after a classmate pointed it out and asked what it was. It was so embarrasing!
Anyway, my acne got worse and worse. It seemed to migrate around my face too - it started on my forehead and temples, then moved to my chin, and finally my cheeks. At the early stages I was basically just washing my face with Cetaphil at night. Then as it got worse and worse I started washing twice a day, morning and night.
I would say my acne reached its worse point around the age of 16-17. I now know that this was also around the time when I developed rosacea. Lucky me.
At the age of 15, my GP put me on Differin. It worked relatively well, but for reasons I can't remember I came off it after about 6 months or so (probably my GP thought that would have been enough time). Finally, earlier this year (I don't know why I waited this long!), I went back to ask for something stronger, both for the acne and for the redness all over my face that later got diagnosed as rosacea. He gave me doxycycline and referred me to a dermatologist.
The doxy worked well for a couple of months (literally one or two small pimples in this entire time). I was so excited! My confidence came back and I was feeling great. Sadly, after the two months or so, the pimples came back, this time worse than before. Seriously, I had rarely had pimples THAT bad before - big, deep, pussy, disgusting ones that throbbed and left huge red marks. So I went to the derm, who took me off doxy and put me on minocycline and Rozex cream (this is an antibacterial that also helps rosacea). Again, the minocycline worked great at first, but I noticed that after a few months it started not helping much. I was also having spontaneous episodes of flushing - I would be sitting down doing nothing but reading a book and all of a sudden, my entire face would be burning and BRIGHT red.
So, back to the derm I went. She said I could decrease the minocycline from two 50mg tablets a day to one. I did this (just taking it at night), and the flushing did decrease. The derm also changed my topical cream from Rozex to Finacea, but this medication didn't really do much to help the redness.
Finally, halfway through this year, I decided to try another derm who is Head of Dermatology at a hospital near where I live and who a few people I knew had seen and were really happy with. He's got all kinds of fancy professional titles and I figured if he couldn't help me, no one could! He told me that Cetaphil contains SLSs and to stop using it immediately (I now use Aveeno Ultra-Calming cleanser). He also to stop the minocycline and prescribed me a 1% sulphur cream (for both the acne and the rosacea). He also has a holistic approach, and told me to cut out all dairy (except hard cheeses - don't ask me why), sugars, high GI foods in general e.g. potatoes, bread etc. and saturated fats.
I've been pretty rigorous with this diet and have definitely noticed a decrease in the frequency and severity of pimples. My forehead and temples are pretty much completely clear. The rosacea redness has also reduced significantly. It's not gone, but now it's generally a light pink flush over my entire cheeks, rather than a bright red flush all over my face (it seriously looked like I'd spent ten hours out in the sun unprotected). I am still getting fairly bad breakouts around my period, but this can't really be helped unless I go on birth control or something like that, and I don't know if I want to do that. My spontaneous flushing has pretty much gone (generally only happens now when something triggers it e.g. cold wind, artificial heating, stress or embarrassment, direct sunlight etc.)
I am by nature a happy person, but there have been times in my battle with acne and rosacea where I would get really depressed. Every new pimple, however small, seemed like the end of the world. Every glance in the mirror at my red face and I would feel like crying. The rosacea really hit me hard, as nobody I knew suffered from it at my age (it is generally something that affects older people). I knew my skin wasn't as bad as it could be, but it really was ruining my life. I was cancelling days with friends and I still literally stare at myself in the mirror maybe 30 times a day, analysing every pore and pimple. Seriously, if my mum suggests going on a holiday, or friends suggest going out sometime, the first thing I think of is my skin - how many pimples will I have that day? Will I be home early enough to make sure I can have a good 8+ hours with a topical cream on my skin? I sill find myself judging my own skin against others everywhere, on TV, in the movies, even on the tram or at the supermarket. In my mind, hardly anyone I see has skin as bad as mine. This is probably not true, but that's what it seems like to me. In the past, there were times when I even asked myself whether I would prefer to have cancer or something but perfect skin, and I would tell myself that that would be better. That's how bad it got.
I am still quite self-conscious about my skin. I worry about stupid things like never getting a boyfriend, and I do have to really control my mad urges to constantly look in the mirror and analyse my skin. If a genie turned up and offered me three wishes, the first one without a doubt would be to have perfect skin. I know I am my own worst enemy when it comes to judging my skin.
Although the acne is slowly decreasing (but definitely not gone), I am extremely fair and every pimple has left a red mark. Even if I don't pop a pimple, it will result in a bright red patch. Luckily I haven't got much ACTUAL scarring, just a few, pretty unnoticeable pockmarks from particularly bad ones. This is one of the few things I can be thankful for when it comes to my skin!
Congratulations for sticking with this post if you're still reading! I really haven't discussed my skin with anyone before, so this has been a kind of ranting/getting-stuff-off-my-chest kind of post. Thanks guys. I just really need to get this story and these feelings out!