Eh. No change in acne at all. For every pimple that's faded away a new one has popped up. I stopped getting red, dry skin from the differin a few days ago though. I have pictures if every day from week one and from today, and there's no telling that they're before and after pictures. Not much of a blog post, but didn't want to abandon the blog yet.
Today was the first day I really noticed anything particularly different about my skin after starting differin, and that is that it was very dry and flaky. I don't think the face wash that I use was a good match with that, because the sides of my chin were pretty angry after I got out of the shower. I took some anti-inflammatory meds, put lots of moisturizer on (it stung!) and iced it for a little bit. It looks like it is calming down now, still feels a little tight if I move my face (i.e. like to smile).
I think I may see a very, very slight improvement in acne. In all honesty I would attribute that more to a "good skin day" than to the differin at this point. I wouldn't expect it to work so quickly.
Because of the irritation, I'm a little hesitant to apply the differin right now which is the time of day I've been applying it. I just put more moisturizer on, and an going to see if I can get the irritation to settle down before I put differin on. I don 't want to skip the day of using it altogether though, because the directions in the package say skipping days can hinder results. So, onward and upward.
I'm 32 years old, and have had moderate, yet unrelenting acne since I was 11 years old. Early on I was prescribed antibiotic topicals only to be discouraged because not only did they not do anything to help my acne, but because I then knew that even a professional couldn't help.
My parents bought me proactive, various BP and salicylic acid products. None helped. Oh, and worse, my parents assumed it was because I wasn't using them. I distinctly remember feeling so horrible that the products and systems my parents bought did so little to help with my acne that they actually thought I wasn't using them that I would often go up to my room after dinner and cry myself to sleep with hopelessness.
I graduated high school, and attended nursing school. By that time, I had a serious boyfriend and was on orthotricyclen, which actually helped a little bit. But after awhile I lost health insurance and gave up BC because I was broke. If my acne got worse after I was done with BC, I don't remember it, but I also had bigger fish to fry at the time.
When I was 23, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. I, admittedly, put everything else on the back burner. I think I put more effort into covering up my acne than treating it, because I felt like treating it never got me anywhere, and the more I focused on treating it, the more I focused on my poor appearance. Covering up somehow was more empowering to me because even though I knew the acne was there, I felt I had control over how noticible it would or wouldn't be.
Crohn's disease put me on a roller coaster ride with Prednisone for a few years. I had the misfortune of meeting several GI doctors who hadn't a clue how to properly treat IBD before meeting one who did. I became far, far more concerned with those side effects than with acne. I'm pretty sure that I had good days and bad days, but what I remember wishing for the most was to get rid of Prednisone's moon face, for my hair to grow back normally, and to not have swollen legs every day.
Several years into my battle with IBD, I switched hospitals. I was admitted to the new hospital for a week or so, and then had surgery done. Part of my small intestine was removed. During the week before the surgery, I was pumped full of high doses of strong steroids in order to increase the odds of succes of the surgery. My. Skin. Was. Depressing. Disgusting. The worst it had ever been.
I felt such joy at finally being free of my IBD symptoms, but flat out avoided looking at my face. Every time I looked in the mirror I started to weep. I didn't recognize the monster face in the mirror. I didn't want to look like her.
After months of (intestinal) healing passed, I was given a medication to prevent future Crohn's flares. I was allergic to the medication, and ended up in the ICU. One of the fellows involved with my surgery months prior came to check on me. After a conversation about how my IBD symptoms we're, he looked at me and said, "What is causing all of this acne?" I said "I don't know, I've just always had it." He said "No, no, this is much, much worse. Something is going on with your skin. This is very bad acne. You didn't have this when you were here before." Great. Thanks, doc. I locked myself in the bathroom to cry.
I tried proactive again. I tried something called Patricia wexler. I tried a clean and clear system... I tried pretty much any system I could find in a drug store. Most recently I tried Mario Badescu products.
The Mario Badescu drying lotion, drying cream, buffering lotion, and healing and calming mask offered the most improvement. However as it would heal existing pimples, new ones were always popping up as old one healed. After a year of only trading old breakouts for new ones, and my skin just becoming flaky, dry, cracked and bleeding if I attempted to be more aggressive with the treatment to stop new pimples faster, I decided to try something else. I also started getting little bumps in my neck. That's new in the last few months.
That's when I decided to try Differin gel. I stopped the Mario Badescu products just long enough to let some dryness go away, and that showed me that they were doing SOMETHING for me all of that time, because the few days I stopped allowed a doozy of a break out to happen. Nothing cystic. Mostly blackheads (more blackheads than I've ever had in my life all at once) and those smaller flesh colored pimples that have over the course of a few days turned red. Oh, and I guess I need to admit that I am a horrendous popper. I can't let them go when I see that white head come to the surface. But it is sort of reinforcing because when I see that white head to a pimple and just get the ick out, it is usually healed by that evening. When I don't just pop it it's like it festers and gets worse and more infected looking for a few days before even starting to improve.
So anyway, I have a face full of tiny bumps, a few pencil eraser size bumps, and lots of black and white heads I guess. I would have to refresh my memory on what is considered what though. I have a few small scabs from picking and popping. I applied Differin for the first time last night.
I am not looking forward to any kind of purging phase. If it happens, I hope I'm emotionally able to handle it and to come out on the other side of it with better looking skin.
I am also considering using a BCP again. After I began having issues with IBD, I really didn't keep up with regular preventative check ups. So, it's been entirely too long since I've seen a GYN. I need to just get into a GYN and get that exam done and over with. The longer I avoid that appointment the less I want to do it because I feel irresponsible for putting it off for so long and don't want to be judged. I know that's counterproductive in the worst kind of way. I need to just do it. I bet any GYN will think I'm a moron walking in for the first time because my acne of all things is what finally gave me the motivation.
Oh, and I officially took "Before" pictures and decided to be committed to documenting my progress in photos. However, I'm far too insecure to post them. Maybe someday when my skin is better I'll find the courage to do that.
I hope to keep this blog up at least weekly. But know that if I get discouraged, I'll probably not want to track my progress publicly anymore.