Hey Acne.org community,
I'm a 19 year old boy and I've been meaning to write this post for a long time now, and am finally getting to it. Almost all you hear on acne.org is how great the regimen and I'll admit it really can do wonders for some. But I basically want to tell you guys about the dangers and flaws in the regimen and why it can be so mentally detrimental for some, especially those with severe acne.
I'll start by giving you a quick background of my acne treatment history. During my senior year of high school, my acne started taking a turn for the for the worst. I had a very mild acne for almost all of high school but it wasn't anything that couldn't be cleared by Proactiv or other OTC products. But that fall, my acne was getting progressively worse. FInally, I decided that I wanted to see a dermatologist because I was sick of getting all these pimples. My mom took me to see a special "laser" dermatologist because she had seen an advertisement online or something. This turned out to be my first major flaw. The doctor prescribed me Solodyn (oral Minocycline antibiotic), Duac in the morning (5% and 1% Clindamycin) and generic Differin (Adapalene). This was in addition to weekly laser treatments, where they would zap the sebaceous glands and clean the skin by killing bacteria deep within the skin.
It seemed like a very promising treatment regimen. At first things got much worse, most likely because of the initial breakout from the Differin (I was applying globs of it because the doctor never explained how I just need a pea sized amount). I'd say the the first 2-3 weeks it was getting worse, but then around the 3rd week mark start things started to improve rapidly. My family even said that my skin was looking better, which made me so happy. Unfortunately just as things started to look up, I started breaking out in itchy hives all over my body. After some research, I determined I was allergic to the Solodyn and when I told the doctor she told me to stop taking it immediately and just continue with the topical medicines. This is when things started getting really bad, the stopping of the antibiotic made get so much worse. I'd say it was about 3 times as bad as it was to start and it was only getting worse. A few weeks later I came back for one of my laser appointments and complained about how bad my acne was, so this time she put me on another antibiotic (azithromycin) saying that it should start working in a week. It didn't. I continued with this regimen for about a month getting more and more depressed about my acne and how it was only getting worse and I was now breaking out on my back.
During this time I started doing more and more research about acne and it's treatments. I of course stumbled upon acne.org and read about the Regimen. It looked incredible. I spent hours and hours reading the success stories. Finally! A solution that I knew would work. I was so excited about it that I ordered the whole package and got it sent to my house. I ditched my other topicals (a big mistake because I didn't give them enough time to work) I started using the Regimen exactly how Dan describes. Looking back I probably started with a bit too much benzoyl peroxide but oh well. I was excited to put it on every day and that's all I would think about. My life started to be based around the regimen. I had to wake up an extra hour earlier for school so that I could have plenty of time to do the whole regimen. It takes about 30-45 minutes each time you do it including a shower. I wouldn't sleep over friends houses because I had to do the regimen. I had to make sure I was always home in time and woke up early enough to do the regimen perfectly.The first month my skin was red and irritated and I saw very little improvement.
A big part of my personality is how I can get obsessed with projects and they can literally just take up my whole life. The fatal flaw in the regimen is that it almost traps you into doing that. It forces you take anywhere from 1-2 hours of your day to just focus on your skin. During that time when the products are drying the only thing I'd be doing is research about acne. I became an acne expert. I learned about every single treatment and spent hours and hours each day obsessing over acne. I watched countless youtube videos, read countless blogs, an unfathomable amount of time on acne.org. If I had pimples to pop (which I obviously shouldn't have because now I am left with many scars) that's all I could think about all day. I started sleeping on my back so that my face would not touch my pillow sheets in addition to using a new pillow sheet and towel EVERY day. I wouldn't want to hang out with my friends. Literally, all I could think about was acne and it was ruining my life. My skin began improving in the second month, and by the end of the third my face was almost clear of active pimples although my back was not at all. I was embarrassed to take my shirt off in front of everyone including my mom and girlfriend. But I didn't even care about the back acne as much as I did the red marks and scars on my face. I now became obsessed with those and I was still getting a new pimple on my face almost every day. I started mixing in Differin into my Benzoyl Peroxide to try to help with the red marks and was also using Dan's AHA. Car rides were the absolute worst because I would be by myself and all I would do is think about my skin and look at it in the rearview mirror. I knew I needed help I was becoming more and more depressed finding myself crying on many car rides home all I wanted was clear skin. The worst part of all of it was that I didn't tell a soul. Not even my mom or my girlfriend and it was eating me up inside. I eventually had a break down in the spring and I told my mom and then I told my girlfriend and boy did it feel good to tell someone but it didn't cure me of my sickness by any means.
The summer finally came and I was still obsessing about my acne especially my back acne because there were now all these pool parties and graduation parties were all the boys would take off their shirts. Unfortunately, the regimen doesn't work very well for severe back acne, one because it's hard to apply to your back and two back acne is so much more stubborn then facial acne. During this time I started reading more and more about accuatane and about how it is a miracle drug for almost every one who takes it. Now accutane became another obsession, the more and more I read about it the more I wanted to take it, but I was scared to death from all of the horror stories. I decided I had enough, I was 18 years old and I had to take control of this once and for all. It was ruining my entire life. I made 3 appointments to see dermatologists to ask about accutane and if it was right for me. The first one said given that I've tried almost everything else I should absolutely go on accutane. This scared the crap out of me, I was almost hoping he would say no but now I had a decision to make. When I asked my mom about it she told me no and that it wasn't worth the side effects (she did not understand the extent of my depression however).The next doctor told me that since I was going off to college and that I can't drink she wouldn't recommend accutane, I also told her how my mom didn't want me to take it. So she prescribed me a new regimen that wouldn't take as much time as Dan's. It involved differen .3% at night and duac in the mornings with a benzoyl peroxide wash. I thought it would work, but I started breaking out again along with having such dry skin. I continued this for 4 more weeks when finally I gave up. I called my mom in tears from a friends lake house and told her that I needed to go on accutane. Finally she understood, and said okay. When I got home we went back to the first doctor so that my mom could talk to him. I signed all of the paper work and got a blood test the next day. Everything came back clear and I started my accutane treatment on July 11th, 2013. It was one of the best if not the best decision in my entire life.
The next months got better and better, my face and back acne cleared up before I even knew it. My lips were a little dry but that was no problem because I had Dr. Dan's Cortibalm, the best stuff for your lips. The best part was that it took a total of 3 seconds of your day to take the pills rather than the 2 hours it took to do Dan's regimen. I started living my life again. I became obsessed with other things and I was able to finally enjoy my life again. I did see a therapist for the first month of accutane and she helped me deal with a lot of the feelings I had felt for the past year. I finished 5 months of accutane, taking a total of about 130mg/kg. And now use .05% tretinoin once a day for maintenance and for the scarring which has improved dramatically.
If you have severe acne that isn't clearing up from other treatments I just have one word of advice: Accutane
My final words of advice for any one who is suffering like I am
-Take accutane don't have any qualms about it. The side effects are nothing compared to the results
-Talk to a therapist don't keep it inside
-Use Dr. Dan's Cortibalm for your lips
-Talk to people about it, please feel free to message me about anything
-Stop reading about it and stay off acne.org as ironic as it sounds (I would make deals to myself that I could only read about acne once a month)
-Go enjoy life!! It really is an amazing world out there. If there is one silver lining to my acne battle is that it's given me such an appreciation for life and living with clear skin and it has given me so much confidence.
Thank you for taking the time to read this if you got this far. I hope I can help at least one person with their acne battle. Acne isn't meant to be fought by yourself.
Best of Luck,