Holy cow guys! I've not had ANY new spots in a week and I am completely clear! This hasn't happened to me since I can't remember when...years! Now, before you hop on over to my gallery to check out the pics, let me tell you that by CLEAR, I mean no active spots. I still have red marks. But THIS IS A HUGE TURNING POINT FOR ME, I AM PSYCHED! I must say, I am scared every morning when I look in the mirror, because I feel like this is too good to be true. But I really, really, really hope this is a new start to a life of being acne-free, after have been dealing with it for about 16 years. Ok, I have to quit talking about it because I feel like I'm going to jinx it. But finally, light at the end of the tunnel!
My face has continued to clear up since that last bad breakout a couple of weeks ago. I have one new spot under my right temple, but it is not sore (my acne is usually tender and sore). Because it isn't sore, I think it will go away faster (fingers crossed). But other than that, and old marks from my last breakout that are still shrinking, my face is clear...EVEN MY JAWLINE!
Because of this week being such a good one, I tried to figure out if I've done anything differently. And I've been doing 2 things:
1) drinking lots of water (it's been hot out!)
2) taking probiotics (got one of those infections that females tend to get while on antibiotics...so been taking probiotics alternately to help with that)
Not sure if either of these have contributed to me having a good week, but I'm going to keep on with them and see!
Also had a consult for my scars. My derm does not offer many scar treatments. Fraxel re:store, CO2 laser, and VI peels were the only things discussed. I was impressed that they were VERY upfront about all the risks of Fraxel and that the results are very "iffy." They made the VI peels sound promising (not as a 100% scar treatment, but for some mild improvement)...but I know in reality that peels don't really do much for scars. As for CO2, my derm's office does NOT offer CO2, but it was mentioned briefly and said if I wanted to be rid of scars completely I'd have to find someone to perform CO2 laser. No other treatments were mentioned. I have a consult at another office next week. I'm pretty much going anywhere that offers free consults because I'm interested to hear what the different offices recommend... there is one scar treatment that the other office offers that I am VERY interested in, but I am not yet going to mention it in fear that if I do, people will tell me NOT to do it, that I should do a different type of treatment, etc. I have done lots of research on it and I'm highly interested, but will wait and see if the other office thinks it would be most beneficial for me.
****PS- This is the day after and I just took and uploaded progress pics. I hope I don't jinx anything, but I am so happy at what I'm seeing! Clearest I've been in YEARS!!! Really hoping I can keep this going...
Sooo if you read my last entry, and then checked my gallery, you may have noticed I did NOT post progress pictures for that week. I knew it would just make me frustrated seeing the new breakout. I know, pathetic right? Trying to accurately document my progress so I can try to really peg this thing down, and I can't even bring myself to look at pictures...Good news is, I do have progress pics for this week, because the spots from that breakout is finally dying down! I ate HORRIBLY this past week (AFTER my horrid breakout)...fried food, fast food, ice cream galore, candybars, dairy, etc, and I've had no new spots develop. I never attributed my acne to diet anyways, but reading through the forums I started to think about maybe playing around with my diet again, because so many people have been able to link their acne to certain foods. But after this week, I'm pretty sure I can say with 100% confidence my acne is not diet related. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I'm glad I don't have to cut those foods out, because they are oh-so-delicious, but then again if it WERE diet related, I could change my diet accordingly and rid myself of this curse called acne!
What's weird about my acne...it has changed over the years. It started out as tons of tiny flesh colored bumps on my forehead only when I was 10 years old. Then 1 or 2 kind of sore pustules in random places on my face, along with the previously mentioned forehead bumps for the next several years. The last couple years I continued with pustules and started to get papules as well. But the bumps on the forehead...GONE! Last summer was the worst...papules and pustules ALL OVER. This is when my family started making comments about my skin getting worse. People at work were noticing too. I remember my temples were ALWAYS broke out (I have the boxcar scars to prove it!). This year (especially since starting prescription meds), my forehead stays clear 98% of the time...at most I'll have 1 spot there. It seems the acne didn't start concentrating on my jawline until AFTER I started the meds, and it's all papules now. I remember always having the kind of acne that I could squeeze and pick. Now, just sore papules...they don't get "heads" so I don't pick because it's pointless.
Has anyone else had acne that has changed significantly like this? And any opinions why my acne type changed AFTER I started the prescription meds? Although my entire face used to be covered, I never really had any problems with my jawline until after starting Tret and Clindamycin in November...opinions are welcomed!!!
So I don't know what I've done differently, but I have new spots in places that I never break out! Typically, I'll have an active or two on my jawline...and mayyybe one on the side of my face or cheek. But in the past couple days I've had one creep up above my lip, another about an inch the the left of my nose. and another in the middle of my chin. I also got two new ones on my jawline (not surprising, as this is where I normally break out). They are almost on top of each other. The only thing I can think of that I've done differently is that I've been doing some outdoor activities because the weather has been nice. I've also noticed that my skin has become really oily again over the past week or two, like it was pre-tretinoin. I'm reallly hoping that it's not due to me being outside, as I LOVE the outdoors. We shall see. This is frustrating.
At the moment I'm still dealing with post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and scars (all types, mostly rolling, but none are severe). I found a dermatology office that offers free consultations for scar treatments, so I'm going to call tomorrow and set up a consultation to see what they say. I'll keep ya'll updated on when the consultation is and what they end up recommending. And I'll be posting "week 18" progress pictures to my gallery tomorrow night. Hopefully these new spots will die down before I take the pics...I like to see FORWARD PROGRESS in the pictures, and when I have a set back, it's very discouraging (
Sooo it's been a while since I've blogged. Honestly it's because I haven't seen a lot of major changes. Still not perfectly clear, still dealing with hyperpigmentation. But I have been pretty content because it is much better than it was before I started with tretinoin. But recently I had a nasty little breakout on my jawline and one side of my face. The deep, cystic ones that stay sore and hard forever. I broke down, and realllly tried to resist the urge, but I couldn't, and I started taking the doxycycline that my doc had given me but told me not to take unless I wasn't seeing the desired results. I may regret this decision in the long run, but right now I feel I am getting the benefits of the doxy. The breakout has pretty much completely subsided, just dealing with the nasty marks they left behind. I've been taking the doxy for around 8 days or so (100mg 2x daily). No new cysts since I started it, and any small breakouts have been realllly small and go away within a day! I feel like the doxy is giving me some relief. I shall wait and see if these results continue over time...
Not a lot of new info to report. Still seeing gradual improvements. Anything left over from my last minor breakout has cleared up, and I only have 1 active. I had a clogged pore on my cheek and tried to squeeze it out....I definitely made it angry by doing this, it's really red and sore now. But overall my skin still feels very smooth. Still dealing with oily skin, hyperpigmentation, boxcar scars, and some flaking (from the tretinoin), but that is all expected. I knew I wouldn't be cured of these things overnight.
For now, I'm replacing my 5% glycolic acid toner with witch hazel. On one hand, I want to use the glycolic acid toner to help with hyperpigmentation...but on the other hand I want to use the witch hazel for large pores/oiliness/redness. Not sure which one I will choose ultimately...
I went out of town for about 5 days and forgot my vitamin B5 on the kitchen counter, so just started back on that again. Haven't taken it consistently enough to comment if I think it has helped with oiliness or not.
On a positive note, someone made a comment that they notice a big improvement in my skin! I hadn't seen this person since before I started my regimen, so it felt great to have someone notice the improvement!!!! Granted, I was wearing makeup, but I always wore makeup when she saw me in the past too. Lets me know that it isn't all in my head, people are actually taking notice! YAYYY!!!
I will keep this short and sweet this time...
So I had a minor setback... over the holidays I slept in my makeup a few consecutive nights because I stayed with some friends...and I am too embarrassed to let friends see me without makeup! So I did break out some... nothing horrible, but enough that I got mad at myself. Still have one angry papule on my forehead that is sore. The rest are gone already or in the process of drying out.
I made all the changes to my regimen that I mentioned in my last entry and so far so good. I think the vitamin B5/pantothenic acid is helping shrink the appearance of the sebaceous filaments on my nose and helping (some) with oil production. I am currently taking 5mg/ day.
I added new pics to my gallery, but for some reason my camera is taking the pics out of focus (sorry about that!). But I think you can still get the idea. I think at this point in time the greatest improvement is in the red marks along my jawline. Additionally, my skin is very soft to the touch, I like it!!! Hopefully 2012 will end up being the first year I have completely clear skin since 1996!
Acne still under control for now, the clearest I've been in a long time (no new pics, but you can see my previous blog entry for pics if interested). Have had only two new zits this week (before, I'd expect at least 5 new ones every morning!). And when I do get new pimples, they do not come to a head. They are barely visible and don't get nearly as inflamed as before. This is incredibly exciting, I'm 25 and have been dealing with acne since I was 10! I had read such good things about a tretinoin/clindamycin/oral antibiotic combination that I asked my doc about adding some products. Even though I was improving with just the Tretinoin, she went ahead and agreed to prescribe Clindamycin 1% lotion to use twice daily. I feel like this has really kicked things into high gear (may be in my head, who knows). She also gave me a Rx for Doxycycline 100mg 2x/day just in case I start getting that dreaded IB, but asked that I not get it filled until give the Clindamycin/Tretinoin combo at least a month. I took Doxy 9 years ago, but wasn't consistent with it. I'd be willing to give it another shot if I think I need to, but right now I'm hoping to avoid it if at all possible. I've been reading about resistance to Clindamycin, and learned that BP can help prevent resistance, so I plan on grabbing a 2.5% BP product over the counter to use along with my Clindamycin in the morning. I also still plan on switching my Dove soap to Cetaphil cleanser just as soon as I get to the store. Still have peeling, so skipped Tretinoin a couple times last week. Peeling did reduce because of this, but not completely gone, and luckily I did not break out. Red marks are still all over the place, so I still look like I'm broke out, which is frustrating, since my skin is feeling so smooth to the touch now. I read that Hydroquinone is not really effective on red marks, they are more for brown marks. All my new marks are red, but I do have older marks that are brown (I am Caucasian, with a medium olive tone, it's a deeper natural tone compared in general due to some Native American down the bloodline). So I have reduced my use of Hydroquinone, just using it a couple of times a week, and only on the brown spots, and leaving the red ones alone. I have started using some old Proactiv toner after cleansing since it contains 5% glycolic acid in hopes it will help with the hyperpigmentation. I will consider a glycolic acid peel in the future, but not anytime soon, plan on letting my regimen just do it's job for now without doing too much to freak out my skin. Over the past few days, my skin has been getting REALLY REALLY OILY (weird to be peely and oily at the same time!). Not sure if it's due to the addition of clindamycin, Proactiv toner, or just stress due to the fact that I'm moving/it's finals/ had an argument with the bf. I am going to start taking Panthothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) because I have read that it significantly reduces oil. I plan on trying different doses until I find the lowest dose that is effective. It is something I have taken before, but like the Doxy, I was not consistent (I had a hard time swallowing pills in the past so it made it hard to stick with!). I feel like my boxcar scars look worse, but I read other people who said this happened to them before it got better, so I'm trying not to let it get me down. I just hate that make up makes them MORE noticable!!! I also got a bumpy red rash from over-applying Tretinoin to a zit I could feel forming on my chin. Still working on getting that to clear, but it's being very stubborn! BE CAREFUL WITH OVERAPPLYING TRETINOIN! But overall I continue to be happy with the progress I am seeing. Let's hope this trend continues.
I didn't plan on making my blog entries so long, but I want to be able to look back on them and track my progress, and this really helps to remember what I changed/when I changed it/outcomes of changes.
So here is the updated routine (going ahead and indicating the couple of changes I will be making in the next day or two as well)
Cleanse with Cetaphil
Proactiv toner (5% glycolic acid)
Clindamycin lotion 1% and BP cream 2.5%
Cetaphil moisturizing cream
Cleanse with Cetaphil
Tretinoin gel 0.025% 30-60 min later
Cetaphil moisturizing cream
***Hydroquinone 4% lotion on brown spots 2-3 times a week
Tri-Sprintec birth control
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) daily, no set strength yet
***If you aren't interested in my history and just interested in my current experience with tretinoin gel, I sectioned this post out with bolded subtitles, so just scroll down )
Hi everyone. I'm not sure I'm even doing this correctly and I am brand new to blogging, so please bear with me. Just want to share my experiences in real time in hopes of being able to possibly help others as well as help myself keep track of my progress. So here is my BACKGROUND:
I started breaking out when I was 10 years old, and I've never had clear skin since. I've tried pretty much every OTC treatment and Proactiv. Tried Retin-A Micro about 5 years ago, but only for about 3 months. Didn't have any improvements and it was causing painful, raw spots on my face. I became frustrated and gave up (I also do NOT have insurance, so price was an issue as well). Also tried Doxycycline and Cephalexin antibiotics, but again I was not consistent with it (have a horrible time swallowing pills, gag reflex actually got worse at one point in time so made it VERY difficult to get the pills down as prescribed). When I was moving out of my last residence I saw my roommate who had already moved out had some old tubes of tretinoin cream .04%. They were expired by a couple years. But I thought what the heck, my face has experienced it ALL and started using it. No great improvements but it seemed to keep my acne from worsening. That may just be my imagination, I don't know how effective expired Tretinoin cream really is...
I absolutely HATE being 25 years old and still dealing with this after a 15 year battle. I was just living with it for a while... but recently took some photos at an event and saw how horrid my face looked in comparison to everyone else in the picture who had perfect skin. And even when I'm having a "good acne day," I still look like I'm broke out because of all my red marks/hyperpigmentation. So I started becoming more observant and actively looking at everyone's faces on my college campus. Very rarely see ANYONE with acne (and most of them are younger than me!). I went home, cried, and made an appointment at the campus health center. Because I had been using the expired tretinoin cream and believed it to have helped somewhat, I requested it. I was prescribed Tretinoin GEL 0.025%. She offered a referral to the derm dept because she thinks it would be beneficial for me to look into laser treatments for my hyperpigmentation and light box car scarring, and also thinks I may qualify for Accutane. But I will be losing my health insurance in a month (which does not even cover prescriptions, just doc visits), I declined. In my opinion, I wouldn't qualify for Accutane anyways. I consider my acne moderate at most. I have VERY RARELY experienced anything cystic.
So a few days will be my 1 month mark on the tretinoin gel. I think it's helping. No crazy initial breakout (hopefully I won't have one, maybe using the expired treinoin cream prepped my face?). But I still have breakouts nonetheless. But the tretinoin definitely helps the breakouts heal faster than they had before I started the treatment. I have dry skin hanging off my face every morning (gross!), but it's a small price to pay for potentially clear skin in the future. I think my skin has an overall healthier look, and is ever so slightly starting to work on my blackheads (nose and chin). My face also seem to get less greasy throughout the day. Still lots of hyperpigmentation..not sure it's done much in that area yet. I will post pictures with my next post.
Here is my CURRENT ROUTINE:
Wash with plain Dove soap (considering switching to Cetaphil antibacterial bar)
Moisturize with Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream for dry, sensitive skin
Spot treat hyperpigmentation with Hydroquinone 2%
Wash with Dove soap, wait 30 min
Tretinoin gel 0.025%
spot treat hyperpigmentation with Hydroquinone 2%
*I have also been taking Tri-Sprintec (generic Ortho-Tri-Cyclin) for the past 5 months
And that's it! Sorry this is HORRIBLY long. I promise to keep my future posts straight to the point and with pictures!
***Added pictures to blog.. hopefully I did it right!