Heredity: "its in your genes"
Sadly this is one area that we cannot do much about. Some of us have acne because one or both of our parents had acne.
In my case my mother has flawless skin. My dad on the other hand hand acne through his teenage years and tends to still breakout when under stress. We can't fight heredity...or can we?
We can't change what is programmed in our genes. What we can do is fight as heck to keep it under control. I wish there was a cure!! But when the underlying cause of acne is hereditary, you mantra is "yeah I have it...now what can I do to keep it under control".
Well this is the area I will be talking about over the counter products (OTC), home remedies and prescription meds.
Over-the-counter acne medications:
I'm not going to go into depth about each OTC acne medication as there are way too many. If you a question about a specific one please post a comment. What is important to know when shopping for an acne treatment is what the active ingredient in the product. Most OTC acne treatment are made from the following active ingredient:
Benzol Peroxide works by removing excess oil from skin and by shedding dead skin cells that block pores.
Salicylic Acid according to may clinic.com salicylic acid works "by shedding of cells inside the hair follicles which prevents the pores fro clogging".
Glycolic Acid work by removing dead cells and also reduce inflammation.
Sulfur removes dead skin cells and also removes excess oils.
Acne.org has a great list of OTC acne products and what they are made of.
Home remedies: I will dedicate a post later to this topic:)
It's sad to say that none of the OTC products worked for me. Especially the ones from the local drug store. Maybe they are good for those that get the occasional pimple but for someone like me who had serious ACNE...the drugstore products were too mild and had no effect. I found all of them very drying for my sensitive skin and would leave my skin itchy, dry and red.
If I had to choose one of the above active ingredient based products I would say that the Murads products which are salicylic based worked best for me. I think because salicylic has an anti-inflammatory affect it reduced the inflammation of my acne lesions and the redness. I definitely recommend Murad acne system for those that have moderate to severe acne.
Proactiv works well for moderate acne. It didn't do much for me though:(
There were a few prescription meds that I took in my late teens and through my 20s that helped not only with controlling my acne but also preventing scarring.
I started with tetracycline which did control my acne to a certain point until my body became used to it. The problem was that when I stopped the tetra the acne came back. That is when a friend recommended accutane.
I started accutane when I was 17 or 18. I did a five month cycle of accutane of I believe 100mg daily dose. The first month on accutane my skin got really dry and flaky. Hydrating my skin was key. Remembering to drink plenty of water and applying moisturizer. I highly recommend toleriane la roche posy. This is an excellent rich almost like an emollient that hydrates your skin. Don't be afraid of the rich texture...you are taking accutane after all. I will go into depth on facial moisturizers and make up in another post.
I also remember that my lips were chapped so chap stick or vaseline intensive care for lip care was important. Girls forget lipstick when on accutane...keep you lips glossy with some vaseline.
Another issue I encountered on accutane was that my eyes would get really dry. I wear contacts and I remember my optician telling me to hydrate my eyes with lubricating drops but I didn't listen. I ended up scratching my cornea with my contact lenses (the cornea repairs pretty quickly).
Some key things to remember when on accutane is to stay away from waxing. Your skin becomes very dry and can easily tear and can lead to scarring. If shaving shave carefully, do not cut yourself or you may scar.
Do not get laser while taking accutane.
Results from accutane is exactly what it promises clear beautiful skin. I had the most amazing skin after accutane. My self esteem sky rocketed and I loved myself. This euphoric feeling was however was short lived....for a year to be exact. My acne came back:( I was so heart broken. I remember crying so much when my acne retuned. I thought accutane was the cure...I thought after 5 months of accutane my acne would disappear forever. For some that may be the case but it wasn't for me.
My personal theory is that if it's in you DNA then acne is not going to go away with just oral pills. That's the crapy thing about genetics...you can't beat it! So a year later I went on another course of accutane...I'm not sure if it is "allowed" but my doctor prescribed it again for 3 months and the acne dormant period was shorter this time and returned after a few months. I was then placed on Minocycline.
Minocycline is an antibiotic which has possible anti-inflammatory properties. This was a good medication to be on for a year. It kept my acne under control effectively. During this year I worked on other aspects of controlling acne such as modifying my diet, going to an acne clinic, changing my cleansers etc... I will definitely discuss this in another post...it's one of my fav topics.
Retin A cream 0.025%. This is a magic potion in a tube. I highly recommend this cream for controlling acne. Retin A works by shedding older skin and replacing with new skin thus preventing the formation of papules. I used this cream in conduction with Minocycline. The cream takes a while to kick in but when it does it works beautifully in preventing new pimples from forming.
The added benefit to Retin A is that it is excellent for treating and preventing wrinkles. I used this cream religiously:)
*just a tip get the cream not the gel. I found the gel burned my skin.
I will also discuss which vitamins I took that helped control my acne, visiting acne clinics, face creams, make-up and so much more in my up coming blogs.
If you have any questions please post a comment or visit my blog at