I've been lurking here for ages picking up various tips and ideas on how to manage my severe adult acne. But I think I need more help, so I thought I'd post my situation and see if anyone can give me some more ideas.
The background: I had moderate acne as a teenager, it mostly cleared up in my early 20s, then vanished when I took a high dose of doxycycline for 2 months as an antimalarial when I travelled in SE Asia. 18 months ago, I switched from the pill to implanon, and my acne came back - but the other benefits of being on implanon far outweighed the disadvantage of a few pimples, so I decided to keep it. Flash forward a year and I moved from Australia to Fiji, and my skin didn't love me for it - I started getting more and more pimples, big ugly pussy ones. It's fair to say I was very stressed at this point, and I think the it would make sense that the stress could have triggered the outbreak. After about 2 months I went back to Australia for a few weeks, where I decided I really had to do something about my skin. This was in early April this year. I'm 26 now btw.
I've never been great at having a good skincare routine, but I made the commitment to do it properly every morning and every night. I started with Clinique and broke out terribly - glad I managed to get free samples, I didn't use that for long at all. As soon as I went off it, I started clearing up a bit. I switched to Garnier Pure, but didn't get much in the way of results. Then I decided to try Balense Skin cos my mum agreed to go halves (it's very expensive, $297 AU for the set). The products felt nice, but I didn't really notice a difference.
Not long after that I moved back to Fiji, in early May. I kept using the Balense, hoping for a good result, but didn't get one. I noticed my skin looked and felt better if I didn't cleanse for quite as long as it said to in the directions (it says 1-2 minutes, but I felt better with around 20 seconds), but other than that I followed the directions religiously. I still didn't notice a change, and after 6 weeks Balense agreed to give me my money back. I had difficulty getting Fiji Post to accept the products in a package for fear they might leak, so Balense also agreed to let me keep them. They also suggested some alternative things for me to try, including a range of supplements and giving up dairy and gluten. (Although the Balense products didn't work for me, their customer service is FANTASTIC.)
I kept using the Balense products every day twice a day (since they felt nice and I couldn’t think of a better alternative), and I've drastically cut down on dairy (I'm not dairy free yet, but I'm working on it). I eat a wide variety of vegetables, plenty of fibre, and I drink loads of water. I do eat a bit too much cake - Fijians like their morning teas - but again, I'm working on it.
I did a bit of research into supplements and inside out acne healing. Multivitamins are CRAZY expensive here, like $100 for a one month supply of a basic multivitamin. Also a lot of supplements I was recommended like glucosamine are derived from shellfish, and I’m allergic, so I'm not going that route. But I read about Pantothen, seems to work for some people, so I decided to try it. It arrived two weeks ago, and I might have noticed a difference, I'm not sure yet. It might just be wishful thinking, you know? But I'll keep at it and see what happens.
I also ordered some DIM. My thinking there is that my acne is clearly related to my hormones since it came back when I went on implanon. That's a progestin based drug, and apparently progestin can block androgen receptors, and excess androgen can cause pimples. DIM is known as an androgen antagonist (and also an estrogen metaboliser, it seems to do a few things), so I thought it might help. It hasn't arrived yet though, even though I ordered it 6 weeks ago. Might have got lost in the post... :-/
But after all this effort, and for the first time in my life being really really GOOD about cleaning my face properly twice a day every day, my pimples just keep getting worse. I've gone from a number of large pussy pimples to huge crowds of deep PAINFUL cystic pimples. People have been commenting that my face is looking really bad, and very different to when I moved back to Fiji in May. (They’ve also been suggesting all sorts of treatments – yoghurt facemask anyone?) I finally got a result from a last-resort idea two days ago - I tried basic antiseptic cream on them in the hopes it would at least numb the pain a bit (and because I remembered my sister used to use that as a teenager on her pimples), and overnight I had a noticeable reduction in the size, severity and painfulness of the pimples. I'm going to keep using that, but it smells pretty bad and I wonder how good it could be for my face long-term.
I've been taking before/after style photos since late April, and flicking back though them today, it really came home to me that my pimples have gotten so much WORSE since then, not better. What has changed?? While I think stress or the change of climate in moving to Fiji could have caused them back in March/April, I'm no longer very stressed, and I've moved back to Australia and back to Fiji during that time. I'm also living in a different part of Fiji now which has a different climate than where I was at the start of the year. My diet hasn't really changed, except for trying to give up dairy over the past 6 weeks or so.
The only thing that has really changed, actually, is my strict adherence to a cleansing and skin care routine. As in, I’ve been doing that when I never have before. Could that be what has caused my skin to get so much worse? Because if it was stress or a new climate or something, I would think that now that I've been not so stressed and in the same city for nearly three months, my skin might be calming down. But it's not., So I must be doing something that aggravates it on a regular basis, right? Or am I grasping at straws here?
Anyway, I washed my face only with water tonight, and I didn't even moisturise, I just put the antiseptic cream on. I'm not sure what I'm going to choose to do in the morning.
I've attached a few pics to show you what I mean. Sorry the lighting is so inconsistent - moving house three times in two and a half months does that, but I've tried to pick the same angle at least.
1. Back in April, when I thought my pimples were bad. They were worse than any time since I was a teenager anyway.
2. End of May. Not much change.
3. Early June.
4. Mid June. Lots of new big pussy ones.
5. Start of July. Chin very sore.
6. Last weekend. Probably the worst it's been in my entire life. (And I had a date!!)
7. Right now. Marginal improvement since the weekend, especially in terms of pain, but still pretty awful.
Sorry if this was overly long or rambly, but I'm really coming up blank here. Could cleansing too much be causing me problems? Or do I just need to keep at it? I just really hate how my face hurts all the time now, it's just awful. And I just can't understand why this has happened over the last few months.
Any help will be so very appreciated!!!