Week Zero - Background info
Excuse me in advance for any melodrama, haha. I would say my acne is moderate although it feels pretty severe to me since I've gone from clear skin to acne-tastic in under 6s I know my acne is by no means the worst, and in fact it's probably par-for-the-course for this forum. I have the normal white and blackheads, as well as papules, pustules and a few nodules, which all came up in about two to three weeks. I'm adding photos to my gallery to try and visually track my progress. I've also got some clear "before" photos, if anyone's interested, but haven't published them since I don't think they will be.
For the last three months I've been trying to get really fit, to improve my self esteem and happiness (there really is something to be said about the runner's high!), and I will be the first to admit I am vain enough that when I broke out it significantly affected my self confidence. Since the acne is extensive across my back, chest, and face, I felt like I just wanted to cover up hide from the world.
Anyway, back to the task at hand. I commenced treatment (Epiduo Gel and Estelle 35 once a day) on the 18th August 2011, about two weeks after the flare up started. My doctor informs me that skin takes a while to respond to treatment (hence the delayed reaction causing the flare up), and that it will be 6 - 8 weeks before my skin will clear up. I'm quite disappointed about that, as I was hoping for a week or two of treatment.
Day one, week one of treatment (Epiduo gel and inactive Estelle pills)
For the first couple of days I administered the gel too thickly each night (I didn't take the instructions to apply a "...thin film of gel evenly..." seriously enough), and since I am not used to any retinoid or benzoyl peroxide it made my skin feel quite hot, irritated, and uncomfortable. I expected some irritation, but after a trip to the forums realised it's better to easy yourself into it, so I would recommend anyone starting it to use it once every two days initially.
I quickly realised that there are two vital investments you need to make when starting Epiduo... The first is a gentle, non-comodegenic moisturiser, that I started using about half an hour after letting the gel soak in. The second is a few white or old T-shirts to sleep in, that cover all your treated skin, as the benzoyl peroxide (BP) in the cream bleaches coloured fabric and hair (my comfy Grand Canyon shirt will never be the same again!).
At this stage I'm cleansing with a Dove beauty bar, and Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser, both designed for gentle, pH-balanced caring of sensitive skin. I didn't realise it at this stage, but that's a mistake!