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Hi everyone, I've been visiting this site for a couple months and would like to toss in my two cents' worth now and then.

My history:

I'm a female, in my 40s now and only have occasional breakouts (when I'm stressed), but in my teens I had a bad case of cystic or nodular acne, whatever you want to call it. I have extremely oily skin with very small pores, and that's a bad combination. My skin was really pretty until I was 11 (too young to appreciate it!). In 5th grade I started breaking out, and by 6th grade I looked like I had the chicken pox or something, pretty much all the time. I was shy to begin with, then my family moved when I was in middle school. The kids were really rude and mean about it. You know how middle school age kids can be... My mom used to tell me not to let them bother me, but it hurt. I became very focused on my acne problem, more and more depressed about it, and my self esteem dropped lower all the time. I tried keeping my face as clean as possible and tried various topical treatments (one of them turned my face orange!) but nothing worked. Benzoyl peroxide was the latest, greatest thing back then (70s), but it didn't seem to do much either. So yes, I know how it feels. None of the kids around me ever seemed to have much of a problem, maybe a zit now and then, while I had a face covered with cysts and nodules in various stages, all the time. I thought I looked hideous. If you look at my yearbook photos, I'm not smiling.

The worse thing is that the low self esteem caused much more pain in my life later on than the acne scars did. Long story. Please, if your skin trouble is causing you this much pain and despair, by all means keep trying everything you can to clear it up, but don't forget to look for healing on the inside as well. Those scars can cause trouble even after the acne is gone.

What I've learned:

Popping may not be bad in itself, but once you pop them, you want to squeeze them, and that's damaging to your skin. I wish I had the self-restraint back then to tolerate the looks of it and keep my hands off. That might have prevented some of the scarring.

Antibiotics (achromycin) completely cleared up my skin, but when I had to go off them the problem came back immediately. I would probably be scar-free today if I had stayed on them.

Salicylic Acid rocks!! My skin is still very, very oily and I get clogged pores. I use a mild soap and a gentle scrub pad twice a day, and a toner containing SA once during the day (Mary Kay). When I break out, I put Mary Kay acne gel on the nodules at the first sign (it also has salicylic acid) and keep it up for a few days, and it actually prevents them from developing any further. My daughter is 11 and getting big blackheads; she uses Neutrogena blackhead preventing cleanser and it takes a while, but it eventually dislodges them (you guessed it, it contains SA also).

Swimming helped me by drying out my skin. The sun did too, but of course now the tradeoff is wrinkles. They started showing up at 35.

There are good oil-free moisturizers and sunscreens now, unlike in the 70s when any sunscreen I could use made me break out. Mix them with oil control lotion and that helps too.

As for me, I'm following the Fraxel conversations and hope to save up enough to have treatment. No dermabrasion or CO2/erbium for me, thanks--I'm not the lucky type...

Sorry for the wordiness here, see you on the message boards!

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