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trafalgar

Tretinoin log

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I've decided to make a log as a way for me to keep track of my progress on this topical. I'm currently using a generic 0.1 cream tretinoin called Stieva-A.

A little background info: I'm a 21 year old female who blissfully went through her teenage years for the most part pimple-free. I would get maybe 1 or 2 a year, during high periods of stress, a.k.a. exam time. I was constantly complimented on my skin so you can understand my chagrin when I started breaking out a year or so ago. My breakouts were mostly localised around my chin and jawline, sometimes above my upper lip. It was mild but upsetting enough for me to seek help from my family doctor. He prescribed a gel called Stievamycin (regular) which is a combination of 0.025% tretinoin and 4% erythromycin (an antibacterial agent). This didn't work so he bumped me up to Stievamycin Forte (0.05% tretinoin, 4% erythromycin), which also didn't work. He then prescribed tetracycline which did nada and was also a huge pain to take, what with the having to wait 2 hrs after a meal or 1 hr before a meal. I stopped with all prescription acne medications during the summer, and would just use a bit of benzoyl peroxide to spot treat. I was clearing up, which was great, but ever so slowly, so I decided to speed the process up by using a harsh medicated cleanser. I was previously using Spectro Jel which I used all through high school and up to this point. It's a great gentle cleanser that cleans well (even my very oily face) without causing any irritation. However, It does nothing to treat your acne so I decided to try TersaSeptic which contains triclosan. BAD IDEA! My face exploded in about ten million little bumps all over my face and breakouts like never before, in places where I would never break out. I stopped using it but the damage was already done. I was away for the summer so I couldn't see my doctor, therefore I proceeded to try all kinds of OTC treatments (salycylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, ACV, masks, cleansers, scrubs - nothing worked). I tried Dan's regimen as well but my biggest issue are my clogged pores and it doesn't help those. All my experimentating just irritated the hell out of my face and exacerbated my problem.

So here I am now. I've been using the tretinoin cream for about a week and a half. When I started it I had a lot of clogged pores on my cheeks and my chin and a few pustules on my chin. I started using it everyday but after 4 days, I looked like a lizard, I had a bad case of the peelies. I reduced it to using it every second day and although my face was a bit red it isn't any more. At the beginning of the week I was seeing a bit of improvement, I had fewer blackheads and my chin pimples were almost gone, but I think I'm now starting the Initial Breakout. I woke up this morning with a pustule on my chin and some red areas on my chin which I think are going to turn into pustules. My right cheek as well, has about three growing papules (one of them caused by my picking at a clogged pore that wasn't ready to be extracted - bad, I know :naughty: ) and on my jawline I have about three tiny little pimples that I hope won't grow any bigger. On my left jawline I have one pustule. Arggg! It's so frustrating having problem skin, I feel so ugly. Especially when I look at the people aroung me who all have nice skin. I don't feel like going out anymore or hanging with people, all I want to do is hide out at home. Having acne really is socially debilitating. Anyways, I'm really hoping my IB will be done by next week - my boyfriend (we have a long distance relationship) is coming to see me and I don't want to worry about having a pizza face when I go to bed at night. Depending on how bad it is, I'm considering wearing concealer to bed, but I would rather not since it's not good for your skin. He doesn't care about a few pimples but it's a matter of vanity and if I'm broken out all over, I would rather him not see them. It's probably wishful thinking that I'll be done my IB by then. I'm not expecting clear skin, but I would like a modicum of improvement or at least where I was before starting the Stieva-A.

Writing all that down was kind of therapeutic. I'm a bit embarassed to talk about my acne with my friends (who all have nice skin), so it's nice to be able to read other people's logs and know I'm not the only one who's suffering through this.

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Day 13

I've been on Stieva-A for thirteen days now and I'm pretty sure I'm going through the IB. It SUCKS. The three papules on my right cheek are still there, albeit they seem to be a bit less red and inflammed than yesterday. The red areas on my chin did indeep develop into zits, but they're fairly small and will hopefully be gone pretty soon. The right side of my jawline is still red but all that's there are just not really noticeable clogged pores. Hopefully they'll just disappear and not turn into anything. The left side of my jawline has this huge papule that's sore to the touch. I've been spot-treating it with zinc oxide cream and am waiting to see if that helps or not. From past experience, neither BP, SA, polysporin, or tea tree oil work well as a spot-treatment for me.

It's funny how one day my skin can look nice and seem like it's clearing up, and the next, look really shitty. I should mention that I have noticed a bit of an amelioration. A lot of the clogged pores on my cheeks seem to be going away and all the zits I've gotten so far haven't just come out of the blue, they've developed from my blackheads and clogged pores. However, what still makes me unsure about this medication is that I can't tell if the pimples are caused by irritation or if in actual fact it is the retinoid pushing the gunk up to the surface and clearing my pores. I guess that's what I discovered this summer, that my skin is pretty sensitive and that irritation just kills it. Because topical retinoids often times make your skin worse in the beginning it's hard to tell right away wether they're working or not. You have to be patient and wait it out. However the downfall is that you never improve and your skin just keeps getting worse. I guess that's a gamble you have to take, one that I'm afraid to take but will still take nevertheless.

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Day 16

My IB (if it even is my IB) seems to be abating. I haven't had any new pimples since I last posted and the ones I had are clearing up. Unfortunately I may had just made things ten times worse by going on a picking rampage. I was initially just going to pick two of the IB pimples that had come to a head. However, it seems that once I start I can't stop. I see all my blackheads and clogged pores and just can't help by performing minor surgery on them in hopes of getting rid of them, but most of the time I end up with either a red mark (that lasts a few days) or a full blown zit (and if I had left it alone I would simply have my non-noticeable blackhead). ARGG! Why can't I ever learn. I've been trying a new moisturizer (Olay Complete SPF 15 for sensitive skin) for the past couple of days and I'm afraid it's going to clog my pores up. The reviews on makeupalley are favorable though so here's to hoping it agrees with me. Otherwise things are going OK, I do see a bit of improvement but it's minor and I want results NOW.

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Day 21

It seems that I'm not done with the IB. My chin has a slew of little pimples on it, they're small but red. Fortunately it seems that they come to a head pretty rapidly and disappear after a few days. Other than that I don't seem to be making any progress anywhere else. My cheeks are still full of clogged pores, and the ones on my forehead that had disappeared are now back. Will this ever start working for me?

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Day 23

ARGGH! Well my IB seems to be in full swing. It's especially pronounced around my chin, which seems to be my problem area. All the clogged pores on my chin (and I had a lot, invisible unless you were standing two inches from my face, but you could feel them if you touched my skin, and they were ugly) are starting to turn into microzits. These, thankfully aren't too visible, but I'm seeing plugs and whiteheads sticking out of them. I don't want to pick and pop them because two days ago I couldn't resist the urge to manipulate my skin and now it looks even worse than before, I'm left with red marks galore and one zit that I could have otherwise avoided. On my chin as well I have two big papules, that are side-by-side. It gives a lovely red hue to my chin, very sexy. My forehead also seems to be a bit more clogged. It's funny because previous to my big breakout this summer, my forehead was the one place where I never broke out. I could put whatever I wanted on it and it would just continue on its merry way, with no reaction whatsoever. Now, it's not really bad, a few clogged pores and perhaps one zit since the summer. But it's funny how in such a short period of time your skin can change so much. I thought that stopping the product that caused the irritation, and thus the breakout, would stop the zits and clogged pores and that after a few weeks my face would go back to normal. Not so. Oh well, c'est la vie! :boohoo: Hopefully Retin-A will work for me :pray:

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Day 27

Holy IB! I don't think my skin has ever been this bad. My right cheek has three papules + two red marks and my chin is just full of pustules and red marks. However, other than the fact that I'm going to be in hiding for a week, I'm actually quite happy about my skin. You're probably wondering, Um...why? Because it seems like I woke up one morning and all my clogged pores and blackheads had dissapeared. Those that hadn't, unfortunately turned into full grown pimples, but other than that my skin is smooth. Considering that my actual pimples stemmed from those clogged pores and blackheads and didn't just come out of nowhere, if I don't have any more, I may be on my way to clear skin. I'm really hoping that's the case. For the past week I've been using the tretinoin cream every day with no major problems. No irritation, no redness, just a bit of peeling on my chin.

I was experimenting with moisturizers, these are the ones I've tried: La Roche-Posay - Hydraphase light, Vichy Normaderm, Olay Complete for sensitive skin, and Cetaphil cream. The Cetaphil is nice for bedtime but it makes my skin quite oily and shiny, so it's not suitable for wearing during the day (and now that I wear the tretinoin every night I don't use this any more). Both the Vichy and Olay are fine, however they weren't moisturizing enough to tackle my flaky chin. I quite liked the Vichy because it is quite mattifying and my face wasn't an oil slick after a few hours, the way it normally is. The Olay is OK, I didn't use it long enough to judge wether it clogged my pores or not, but it made me shiny and didn't seem to even slightly moisturize my chin. The La Roche-Posay hydraphase I have been using for about a year. It doesn't clog my pores and is quite moisturizing, however it makes me shiny and that's why I've been looking for different moisturizers. I have now come to the conclusion that I don't need to put my moisturizer on every inch of my face. My skin produces enough oil to adequately moisturize most areas of my face and I now just use moisturizer on my chin and any other dryer areas. The La Roche-Posay now works perfectly with this system. It provides just enough moisture to my dry areas without being shiny or oily.

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Day 30

The IB seems to be abating. Pimples are drying up, red marks are fading. Since the beginning of the IB (it seems like the IB pimples just popped up all at once), I have only had one pustule on my right jaw line. I noticed that I have a few blackheads that just appeared on my cheeks within the last couple of days. I believe this was probably caused by my having to do a parade on Remembrance Day (I'm in the army) and having to wear a curb chain (a filthy piece of leather worn around your face that no amount of washing can clean) to hold up my headwear. Sweat + having it all pool and mix with the filthiness of the curb chin + having it all rest against my face for a long period of time = no fun for my poor pores. Other than those minor setbacks my skin seems to be improving a bit. I just had a pick-a-thon, hopefully it won't cause too many problems. I just can't help picking. I tell myself I'm only going to pick one pimple, but it seems that when it comes to my face I have no self-control, and end up picking at tons of spots.

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Why did I have to pick? I just made things so much worse. My whole face is covered in red marks now. Ok, I'm going to make a resolution not to pick for one week, unless it's a very ripe pustule. Now that I officially wrote it down I'm hoping I'll be able to adhere to my resolution. Wish me luck!

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Day 36

I still seem to be breaking out. It's mostly around my chin. Some of the zits are smaller than what I was getting about a week ago but they're red and are still noticeable. How long does the IB last? For me it started around week 3 (day 22-23?) and I'm still breaking out more than ten days later. So not only do I have tons of zits I also have red marks that make seem worse than it really is. Sigh....I'm so depressed. Not only that I'm seeing my boyfriend this weekend (haven't seen him in about three weeks) and I was really hoping to have somewhat clear skin, that is maybe one or two actives and just a few red marks. However that's not the case.

Does anyone have any tretinoin success stories or improvement stories to share with me and give me some hope that this may work for me and to cheer me up.

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It seems that the more I do to my face in hopes of clearing it up, the worst it gets. For some reason, spot-treating ALWAYS makes things worse, be it a small or big sucker. I don't understand why, and it doesn't matter wether I use BP or salycylic acid. Yesterday I put some SA on these little minizits I had near my chin and today they're bigger and redder. Whereas, the one near my eyebrow, which I didn't bother to spot treat since it wasn't really bothering me, is smaller. I just don't get it??? In addition, the areas of my face that I haven't been spot-treating (and haven't picked in hopes of making things go away quicker), just applying the tretinoin cream, are clearing up nicely, whereas the areas I have been obsessing about, are bad. I have to learn to let my body heal itself.

My problem is that, although I know I should just let things heal naturally, I get really impatient. I keep thinking that 'maybe this time it will be different', or 'maybe this product will work' and then make things worse. When will I learn?

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Day 44

So...my IB is still happening. More or less just breaking out on my chin. However, the zits are a bit different that what I normally get. Normally I have a blackhead that after a while becomes a more obvious skin-coloured bump, and then eventually turns into a pustule or papule. These new ones are blackheads that come to a head really quickly, within a day or less. I've been popping them to get rid of them (I don't like the idea of walking around with these ripe pimples full of visible white gunk) and although they go away quickly I've been getting 1-2 new ones every day.

I had a fit over them the other day. I was visiting my boyfriend and just felt generally down and ugly because of my skin that I went on a picking rampage. When I was done my face was all red and I wouldn't let my boyfriend look at me. I know it sounds really immature but I just felt SO ugly. He thinks I was being silly because he still finds me beautiful regardless of the state of my skin (we first met back when I had clear skin). He tells me he loves me for ME not my skin. He's a great guy and I'm really lucky to be with him. We ended up talking all night about why I've been breaking out (I think it's because of stress - I'm finishing University this year and I've decided that I don't totally enjoy the subject I've been studying. Therefore I won't pursue further studies or find a job in this domain, and I presently have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. That is really depressing me.) My boyfriend was just really comforting and there for me, and generally made me feel better about everything. I wish I didn't only see him every 2-3 weeks (long distance sucks!).

Anyways, back to my skin. It's been about six weeks that I've started the tretinoin cream and I really want to finish this IB and start clearing up. I want my old skin back! Especially since that for the last three weeks my skin has been the worst it's ever been and I'm sure people are looking at me wondering "What's happening to her, she use to be so cute with such nice skin and now she's well...different looking". I miss the days when I would freak out over the two pimples I would get at exam time.

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Day 49

Arggh! I was starting to see a bit of improvement the last few days: no new spots appearing, red marks fading. My chin was starting to heal, the front portion of it was clear (no marks, clogged pores or zits) and just on the sides I still had a few clogged pores and lots of red marks. And then yesterday I wake up to three nodules on the right side of my chin. They are side-by-side, hurt like hell, and just ruined my weekend. I can't pop them because they don't have a head and I don't want to risk scarring. I don't know what to do about them, from experience they might take up to three weeks to go away if left alone, which I'm not about to wait for. Just when things were going well this had to happen!

I don't understand why I'm taking so long to see results with this treatment. My acne was mild to begin with, a lot of clogged pores. Now, with all the breakouts it's been causing (and the red marks I'm left with) I'm probably on the low side of moderate.

I'm giving this another three weeks (Christmas day), I just can't stand things getting worse every day, and if I'm still not seeing any results I'm giving up.

I would like to get some feedback from others, how long did it take before seeing results? Give me hope.

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Day 52

OK, I'm starting to see improvement. I haven't had a new zit since a few days and the only actives I have left are those three nodules. I've been spot-treating them but it hasn't done anything, they haven't changed in three days. I think tonight I'll go ahead and pop them. I know it's bad but at least they'll go away faster, who knows how long they would have lasted otherwise.

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Hey! Sounds like we have a very similar case of break outs - I'm a year older than you, and I found my acne developing around the same time as you. I have finally got it under control but am still battling the feelings you talked about... feeling ugly in front of your boyfriend (but he loves you, so don't!), etc.

Keep up with it, because trust me, it'll be worth it - Retin A has really come through for me :)

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Hey! Sounds like we have a very similar case of break outs - I'm a year older than you, and I found my acne developing around the same time as you. I have finally got it under control but am still battling the feelings you talked about... feeling ugly in front of your boyfriend (but he loves you, so don't!), etc.

Keep up with it, because trust me, it'll be worth it - Retin A has really come through for me :)

That's great that it's been working for you! I'm starting to see results so I'm a bit more optimistic these days. How long did it take you to really notice a difference?

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It only took me a few weeks... but I destroyed my face by using too much and too often... I've since lowered my usage and am debating (despite it being in my signature, I haven't done it yet) using a lower concentration. The pea sized amount is key to having glowing skin. And they mean what they say about SPF - just a little sun can make your skin irritated which in turn leads to more break outs with the Retin A.

Keep us posted...

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Ive used tretinoin for 2 months, and i must say it kinda purges the dirt under ur skin. But im on my 2nd month, and the red marks are clearing up :) And im using glycolic acid 15% in the morning tho xD

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thanks so much for posting, your log has really helped me. our situations are almost identical (except age, i am 17), i started on november 1st and go once a month to get a glycolic acid peel. I have done two so far. My inital breakout has been pretty bad and I make it much worse by picking. I am still having my IB, getting pimples where i usually would not get them and they are usually sore to touch. They seem to sprout, dissapear (or turn into scar/redmark type areas) and then resprout when i put neosporin lotion to help the scar heal. I hear the IB might take up to 3 months, so I guess this means I will have to wait until Feb. 1st to see if it has been worth all of this bad breaking out. I tend to stay inside now too except i have to go to school everyday feeling gross, and makeup is not helping, and because i can not tan i look sickly. I really hope it works for me (and you) and thanks again for sharing. good luck.

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Day 56

I haven't posted in a while, I've been really busy with exams.

Anyways, in terms of skin news, after 8 weeks I'm finally starting to see improvement. I hadn't had a new zit in several days, today I had three sprout up but they're very small and should probably be gone by tomorrow. My red marks are fading and the few clogged pores I still have on my cheeks are going away little by little without first coming to a head. To those who posted in my log, thank you for sharing your experiences with me, it's nice to see that others have had the same problems and that they were able to surmount them and have good results.

Kayla87, I know the IB is really terrible, I've become a hermit because of it, but it will be worth it in the end. I was about to lose hope, I had a month long (a bit longer actually) IB, looked absolutely horrible, but after two months I am noticing results. And in my case, it seems like everyday it gets better, however I know that progress isn't linear, and that I'm bound to have good days and bad days. In the beginning it seems like everyday is a bad day and it just keeps getting worse, but one day you'll wake up and BOOM, things will be uphill from there. Don't lose hope, things will get better. Good luck!

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Are you free from exams yet? I know that time in college was always the worst - you exisit in a fog, you eat crap, and you hardly sleep - so if you notice better skin during that, you're on your way to MUCH better things!

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I decided to stop using this. My skin was getting better but for the past three weeks the results seem to have levelled off and there hasn't been any change. I'm breaking out the way I used to before the Stieva-A. In addition, I have to contend with all the red marks left from my horrible IB. Yesterday I saw my GP and he thinks I'm a candidate for Accutane because although my acne is mild-moderate, it hasn't responded to any treatments. I have an appointment with a dermatologist in a month, and hopefully the latter will prescribe me Accutane.

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