It has been one year since I began retin a; 3 mo of .025% followed by 9 mo of .05%. With the exception of a small monthly breakout related to my menstrual cycle, I am CLEAR.
I have tried: benzoyl peroxode, salicylic acid, glycolic and lactic acid peels, topical antibiotics, oral antibiotics, birth control, food elimination diets, lifestyle changes, vitamins (fish oil, zinc, vitamin c).
The purging period lasted 8 months for me. My clogged pores turned into horrible acne of all varieties within a month of beginning retin a. I didn't think I would survive the first 6 months. I cried, my self esteem reached an all time low, and I was completely humbled. It was a blessing in disguise.
My skin completely cleared around month 9, when I began drinking 1 qt of fresh carrot juice (5lbs juiced) daily. I had the same results as a course of Accutane, and now my hyper pigmentation is finally fading.
It has been a long road and retin a requires COURAGE. The best thing I have found for my skin is to treat a breakout like a cold sore. Any manipulation of my skin spreads it, and even if I have a gross whitehead, if I leave it alone it will dry up and quickly fade without consequent breakouts. I wash my face with African black soap now, with a spray rose water-glycerine as my moisturizer. I apply hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball to any breakouts then LEAVE IT BE.
It will pass!! Just survive the transition (easier said than done) and draw on your inner strength. I know how difficult it is and I pray for relief for all of you.