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Oily Skin/retinoids/skin Damage



It's commonly accepted that high androgen production contributes to oil production, which clogs up your pores, which leads to inflammation, etc. This is why dermatologists push birth control on me; they see that my skin is oily so obviously I must have a hormonal imbalance. Typical dermatologist visit (for me at least).

This was probably true when I was a teenager going through puberty because my skin was oiler than the other kids and I would get small inflamed pustules all over my face. I also ate a lot of junk food...eegh. During that time I only ever used over-the-counter products and the breakouts got a lot better. My skin was still really oily, but now I realize that it was way healthier than it is now. There was even a time when I stopped getting really bad pustules and only had an oily face. One would think that with oily skin comes clogged pores, but my skin was relatively smooth and clogged pores weren't an issue for me! I did start getting a few cysts and nodules around my jawline though. My skin still looked healthy!

...then I had my first visit with a dermatologist. Being a foolish, vain girl in the prime of her youth, I wanted porcelain skin like ALL the other girls and boys (SERIOUSLY WHERE ARE THE ACNE-PLAGUED PEOPLE TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH!?!). Of course, I was prescribed antibiotics and a topical retinoid (Differin XP). I did what the dermatologist said and used the retinoid all over my face for around 6 months. Unfortunately, it stopped working after I stopped taking the antibiotics so I decided to ditch it. That's when I noticed how giant and clogged my pores were; they looked like tiny black pits! Every pore became inflamed (you can see pictures in my previous entries). My entire face just looked rough, pitted, inflamed, and produced copious amounts of oil. I also developed a facial flushing problem where my face would get insanely sweaty and red when talking to someone. This is way more embarrassing when you have glasses!! These issues combined with the post-antibiotics havoc were unbearable for me. Unfortunately I had to use another retinoid-containing product, Epiduo, to control the damage for months.

What's bothering me now -- aside from the continuing pimples living on my face -- is that my face is no longer oily. You're probably thinking that I must be crazy...nobody wants an oily face! Specifically, it seems like the oil no longer flows naturally onto my face. Instead, it forms hard waxy plugs that stick out in my pores. The thing that's even worse is that the oil made by the glands in my eyelids is doing the same, which means painfully dry eyes. I've been taking high-dose fish oils for a long time, but the oil is just not softening.

So now I'm wondering if using strong topical retinoids for so long changed my oil glands permanently. I know that oral retinoids down-regulate sebum production in a lot of places, but it seems like topical ones did this just as well for me.

Did this happen to anyone else, and did your skin regulate itself after stopping retinoids? I can learn to deal with waxy pore plugs, but my eyes are way too important to ignore!


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