I'm really disheartened. Just as I was feeling better about my skin, I got a bunch of comedones around my mouth. In a fit of fury and frustration, I picked all of them and now I have little red scabs all over my face. I look ugly and weird. I also am not completely clear in the areas that I was treating, despite the fact that I've passed the magic 12 week mark. I still have maybe ten tiny comedones in the region, but the area is faintly red, making my skin look worse than it is. I have precisely three comedones on the other side of my face, but they are also red and the surrounding area is red, so I look bad from both sides. The three comedones have been there for about two weeks and don't want to budge. I'm nervous about them because for some reason that side of my face loves to scar, particularly in the spot where these three are. Then, of course, there is the front of my face, which is an absolute nightmare right now. Twelve scabs where comedones used to be. Impossible to cover. I don't want to go to class, to work, outside at all. I can't help but feel sorry for myself. Accutane gave me a taste of clear skin, but now I'm back at square one, and with no health insurance. Let's be honest here, topical medication is a joke. It often makes your acne worse before it works, you flare up if you stop using it, it may never work, and you've got to pay piles of money to see a dermatologist to get it, to pick it up from the pharmacy, and to renew it at regularly scheduled derm appointments. What a scam. Anyway, just here to say that Tazorac is as big a dud as every other topical. My skin has improved, but it's still not perfect and the red clouds where my acne used to be make me look just as bad as the acne. So overall, big waste of MONTHS of time. Thanks Taz!
My skin looks less red, but there are still invisible, flattened nodules under the surface. I don't think they're cysts because they aren't painful, aren't visible to the naked eye, and aren't raised. Whatever they are though, they don't budge. They just feel like hard discs under my skin. Besides those, I've got a few tiny comedones here and there. The whole area is still a bit pink, but the redness seems to be fading. I'm still not comfortable wearing my hair away from my face because of the pinkness. A week ago I had literally one comedone and the invisible flattened nods, so I'm wondering if the increase in comedones is due to the disgustingly humid weather we've been having here in the northeast. It's not hot out, but I still sweat and get oily because the air is so heavy and wet. Sweating seems to be the #1 culprit in terms of comedones springing up. If I sweat a lot, I get comedones the next day like clockwork. I wish the cold, dry weather would hurry up. The humidity also makes my (and seemingly everyone's) hair look gross and it makes spending any time outside miserable.
The aforementioned nodules have flattened out and are still red, but no longer white-headed or active-seeming. Closed comedones pop up and are gone a day or two later. The area is still a little red, particularly around the flattened nods. I'm still following the same regimen as before. I hope I won't have too much trouble with nodules in the weeks to come and that my remaining acne will improve. Otherwise I'll be very discouraged. I've read about Taz users on this site who improved significantly by week 12 but couldn't quite beat their acne. Overall I'm happy with my progress so far, since a couple of flat nods and scattered comedones are a lot better than a jaw- and neck-full of millions of comedones. My confidence has improved a bit. I'm just praying that I don't have another nod explosion, because on those days I don't even want to leave my apartment. I'm terrible at putting on concealer and foundation. As I've said, my acne is on the edge of my jaw and the top of my neck, so I can't see whether I've properly concealed things or just smeared flesh-coloured streaks all over one side of my face. I don't like wearing foundation in general because even though it seems to make everyone look smoother and prettier, I can't help but feel like I'm wearing some sort of pore-clogging mask. I also have weird half-dry, half-oily skin (opposite combination - dry t zone, oily cheeks and jaw), so cream foundation makes parts of my face shiny and powder makes parts look flaky. Ugh just thinking about it stresses me out. I wish my skin would just clear already!
I'm on my seventh week of Taz and, as I mentioned in the last entry, my millions of closed comedones have been gradually improving. Yesterday I woke up with four fat nodules on my jaw though. They used to be closed comedones, so I guess something irritated them and caused them to become inflamed. Today one of them is turning white, one has shrunk drastically, and two have flattened out. The area is red and angry-looking. Is this my IB? It seems pretty late in the game to be having one. Should I be questioning whether Taz is going to work for me? Before I started, I had a lot of clogged pores, but no nods. So while I probably have 10-15 clogged pores now (vs the 50 or more I had when I started), my acne has technically gotten worse because some of what I have now is more severe. Any advice would be very much appreciated!
Three years ago I had a small breakout of closed comedones on one of my cheeks by my hairline. I hadn't had much acne before (the odd, isolated closed comedone here or there) so I panicked and went to the dermatologist. A year and a half later, I had tried antibiotics, Duac, Tazorac, Benzaclin, Klaron, Clindamycin, and hundreds (and hundreds of dollars) of over-the-counter cleansers, spot treatments, etc. The closed comedones were still there, but had also sprung up on the other cheek and around my mouth, not to mention the number benzoyl peroxide did on my skin - suddenly I had cysts and pustules too (me and bp just do not get along, I suspect I'm allergic). My dermatologist finally put me on Accutane and after one month, I was completely clear, with no IB and very few side effects. Unfortunately I had to stop because of a problem with my blood test. I was very nervous that my acne would come back, especially since my insurance was ending in a few months. Amazingly, one month of taking Accutane managed to clear me for another year and a half before I woke up one morning this July with a patch of comedones very similar to the ones that had started it all. I don't have insurance anymore, but my sister also takes Taz, so I borrowed some of hers. When I had acne before, I found that I was extremely tolerant of Taz, with no peeling skin, itching, or redness at all. Then again, maybe that was part of the reason that it didn't do much for me (see the interview posted on these boards with the creator of retinoids, who says the more peeling, the better). I washed my face with Cetaphil, then applied Taz and moisturizer every night before bed for two weeks and saw absolutely no change in my acne. It didn't get better, nor did it get worse. It just sat there, looking as bumpy, abundant, and flesh-colored as ever. So I decided to do some experiments with Taz. I tried waiting anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes between cleansing, application, and moisturizing. I tried putting on moisturizer first. No change. Finally, I washed my face with Cetaphil, waited 20 minutes, and just put the Taz on without moisturizer. The next day, my acne was red - not itchy or peeling, mind you, just red. For many people, this might be bad news, but I was overjoyed that something had actually made my acne look different. I decided to keep going. Six weeks later, my comedones are significantly better. The redness has faded (week 4), they have decreased in number (gradual, with a noticeable difference by week 4), and the few that remain are blackheads, which I take to mean that my skin is pushing out the trapped oil and bacteria. Over the weeks I've developed about 3 pustules at different times, but they each flattened within a few days. Other than these pustules, I've experienced no IB. I can't help but think that for people who are not seeing any sort of change with Taz, no moisturizer is the way to go. Before someone responds that moisturizer is necessary to repair the skin's barrier, I'd like to suggest preemptively that maybe the skin's barrier only needs to be repaired if Taz seems to be damaging it in the first place. If you're applying Taz with moisturizer and not seeing any redness or peeling, perhaps your skin is just more tolerant of the medication than others'. It seems logical to me that if you don't normally NEED moisturizer, and Taz doesn't affect your skin so that you NEED moisturizer, it doesn't make sense to put something on your skin that is meant to fix a problem that you don't have. I also think that Taz should only be applied to the affected areas (the areas with acne), since applying it to areas that are fine could cause breakouts. This happened to me the last time I had acne, and the breakouts never went away. Obviously I am no expert on this, and could be giving bad advice. I just know that this is what seems to be working for me, and every morning I wake up excited to see how my acne is becoming less and less of an issue.