Ugh, been lurking on these boards for years trying to find that magic solution to my ongoing struggle with acne. I've come up with nothing, obviously.
A little about myself, i'm a 31 year old male, just moved to a new city a few months back for a job. I have had some form of acne since I was 15, so more than half my life. I was on accutane when I was 18 and it worked somewhat, but I still broke out after I finished. Prior to accutane I tried antibiotics and topicals prescribed by a derm. I don't remember exactly what I was on and I honestly don't think I was ever consistent with using it, b/c I would always look at someone who had it worse than me and think that mine wasn't that bad. I don't think I've ever had "severe" acne, meaning, I do get cysts and under the skin type of acne, but at worst its only 3 or 4 at a time. I've never been completely covered. I would consider my acne persistent moderate.
Through my 20s I tried proactive, the regimen from this site, benzaclin, duac, tretinoin and cephlexin. I really, really do not want to go back on accutane. I noticed that for about 4 months (while I was laid off), my skin was pretty much clear. I was working out daily, following the body for life diet, drinking tons of water and taking only a multi vitamin and fish oil. I think I was clear, because I definitely was not obsessing about it like I am now (could have something to do with not having to see people everyday because I wasn't working and I wasn't as paranoid?). Anways, after I got a job and moved, my lifestyle changed so that I was eating out more and not exercising. Breakouts started creeping up again and I have become so self conscious lately that I am started to feel very defeated to the point that I'm becoming more of a recluse ( i wanted to skip thanksgiving because of my skin...i didn't). The only other time I got comments that my skin looked good was when I had quit smoking and was using benzaclin.
So, a few months ago I decided to really make a valiant effort with the leftover tretinoin cream I had. I washed morning and night with cetaphil, applied the pea sized amount every night after 30 minutes. Used oil free moisturizer with SPF every morning. Two weeks in and I was as red as a tomato, no peeling. Two months in and my skin was breaking out in giant red cysts in places I've never had acne before (forehead, sides of my nose, middle of my cheeks). And when I say giant, I mean like the size of a dime. Fine, I can deal with the initial breakout, but my skin was oily to the point that it was dripping off my nose. People at work asked me why i was sweating. My face was blotchy and disgusting, worse than ever. I decided I had to see yet another derm in my new city. Of course it was a 4 month wait to see the actual derm, so I saw the physician's assistant the next week. He saw me on a "good skin" day, and talked with me for maybe 2 minutes while someone else was writing down notes. He told me that the tretinoin "cream" would be the cause for my oily skin....that my acne wasn't that bad and to try the Aczone and buy Panoxyl 4 creamy wash. I couldn't find that freaking face wash anywhere so I had to order it online. I had a really bad day at work a few days before thanksgiving and drove to 4 drug stores until I found the Panoxyl. I've been using it morning and night since. It has definitely dried up my skin, but in a good way, it has sort of balanced the oil. While the soap has definitely brought the cystic acne to a head, it has really left me with severe red marks after the existing acne had cleared. So, in the middle of yet another skin meltdown, I called the derms office and told them what was going on and asked for some antibiotics and was prescribed doxy 100 mgs twice a day. I've been on that for a week today. I've noticed some changes, but nothing remarkable. The aczone is okay because it doesn't burn or flake, but I don't really know how effective it is yet.
Whew, i feel like i had to get all that out because I've been so frustrated about it and its starting to negatively impact my life. So, today I start this log to track my progress. Away we go.
4 very minor red pustules, 3 on right side of face, 1 on left, 1 healing cyst on chin....sexy.