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sweetheart519

Ok I'm at a loss! How to get acne under control after starting/stopping BC

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I really for the life of me can't figure out what to do. I am 26. I had my acne under control for years using Proactiv and birth control...until I stopped taking the pill. I also stopped using Proactiv at about the same time. Was fine after I stopped both of those, my skin actually was the clearest it had been since I had started trying different pills 9 months earlier (I tried 3 different pills during that period)...right up until I hit the 3 month mark. I started getting oily skin and hair, and I noticed an increase in body hair too, and slowly the breakouts started up again. Of course I was also going through a divorce at the time and couldn't eat or sleep, lost about 15 lbs, and was very unhealthy. I'm sure that didn't help. But I know it couldn't be just stress, I had already lived through sending my husband to Iraq and didn't have any flare ups then. I also got off BC for a while, just a couple of months, and don't remember having this happen to me.

The last pill I took before I got off was OTC lo, which I only took for 3 months, and I remember struggling with some breakouts. But I thought the Proactiv had stopped working, I didn't even think it could be the pill. I loved it and had no other side effects. So when I got off the pill and started breaking out, and decided to get back on (for more reasons than just acne) I took OTC lo. BIG mistake. I took it for 2 months. Went from mild/moderate acne to moderate/severe by midway through the 2nd pack. Worst breakout of my life and wouldn't respond to Proactiv. I had huge nodules too, which although I had always had cysts I never had ANYTHING that severe.

I started Benzamycin almost 5 weeks ago and I switched to Lo/Ovral (a pill I took for years, but discontinued due to sex drive and emotional stuff) 2 1/2 weeks ago. I'd say my acne is 75% better than it was when I started the Benzamycin, but I am living in constant fear that this will never get better or it will get bad again. I'm also struggling with oiliness still, which has never been a problem for me in the past, and still breaking out. Not to mention the probably 50 red marks/areas I have on my face now from all the inflammation. I had some breakouts this week, a couple bad ones. I can't tell if it's the Lo/Ovral, or if it's stress (which I've been under a lot of), or if they have just been under the skin all along. I just don't know!

My doctor wants me to switch to Loestrin 24 FE, but gave me an Rx for Lo/Ovral if I want to keep trying it for a few more months. I'm really hesitant about switching, I feel like my hormones are totally out of whack right now! Plus I've heard nothing but bad things about Loestrin as far as acne goes.

I guess I want to know if anyone else has gone through this...gotten off BC, broken out, gotten back on, broken out worse, and finally gotten their acne under control again. And how long it took for that to happen. I know my acne is at least partly hormonal, it's always inflammatory and always on my jawline, cheeks, and now chin. I just can't figure out what the hell happened to me! I had nearly flawless skin up until 3 months ago. Now it's destroyed. Maybe a combination of extreme stress, plus a bad pill. I don't know. :cry: Thanks for listening to my vent anyway.

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I'm sorry to hear all this happened! :(

You know what birth control has been GREAT for me so far? Yaz (similar to yasmin).. its low dose and you should experience a lot less side effects.... PLUS it has anti-androgens (equivelant to 25 mg of spiro)... so it should make that extra body hair you said you had gotten go away =] (it lowers testosterone levels in women if you happen to have extra.) I had excess testosterone and ended up not only getting severe acne, but really bad hormonal acne... plus I had horrrrible mood swings before my period and I always felt bloated. Yaz completely took care of that... my skin is barely oily anymore... it helped clear up my skin A LOT and i'm only just in the beginning of my third month... and it made me lose water weight! :P Also, when I shave my legs, its awesome because usually they get all prickly again within a day... but now, they only get a tinnyy bit prickly and the hair grows back sloww... so less shaving! lol

I hope whatever birth control you end up going on works out for you :pray: good luck!

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I've read your topics before, and I'm struck by how similar our situation is. I'm 27, was using Proactiv (often just the scrub without the lotion!) and BC and had such normal skin. Didn't wear makeup or anything for two years - and I've always been really acne-prone. I went off BC in December because a lot of my friends who are a few years older than I were trying to have children, and wishing they'd gone off BC and gotten 'regular' a couple years in advance. Well, not only have my periods not come back ... my acne got CRAZY. And I, too, stopped using Proactiv at the time (though I can't remember why). My doctor says I need to gain weight to get my estrogen levels up (you said you had recently lost 15 lbs?), and my derm put me on Duac, Tazorac, and Bactrim. The Duac was too strong, Bactrim gave me a rash, so now I'm using the retinoid (Tazorac) at night and DKR in the morning. Things seem to be normalizing. Coming to grips with it emotionally and finding makeup I can tolerate have been half the battle! Oh- and I also get nodules! They look like little blackheads riding under the surface of my skin for about a week, then they explode into HUGE inflammatory pimples with hard, hard centers. Gross.

I'm sorry to have taken up this whole post talking about myself - I'm just fascinated by how alike our acne/hormones sound. I do think it's possible to deal with hormonal acne with topicals - but I also think it's important to remember that the acne is just a symptom of something else that needs to be righted (I often forget this), for which one needs a physician or holistic practitioner's help. Best of luck to you - I'll be watching out for your topics!

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Wow we do sound similar! Thanks for sharing your story! It's just nice to know I'm not alone. I really don't know what happened to me and I'm just so depressed by it.

I saw a new derm today. This one is one that my internist sees herself. She looked at my skin, listened to my history. She thinks I have hormonal acne. She said while I seem to be responding well to the topical Benzamycin, it is not helping enough and I still have bumps and am starting to scar. She asked me if I was ok with trying oral antibiotics, just to get it under control. That I didn't have to, but that Benzamycin was the strongest topical I could be on and it just wasn't doing enough to stop it from what she could see.

She wants me to take Solodyn (controlled release Minocycline) very short term. Only 2 months. Then wean me off onto topical treatments only, and possibly a hormonal drug to block testosterone, if it clears me up. I expressed my concerns about my acne getting worse when I stop the antibiotic, or bacterial resistance. She said this often happens with cases of adolescent acne and when people take antibiotics long term (1-2 years). She said she did not anticipate this if my acne is indeed hormonal, and if I continued with the topical gel after stopping the oral antibiotic. She also wanted me to use Differin gel because I have a lot of white heads. I told her I was afraid it was too much for my sensitive skin. She said I didn't have to use it, it was up to me. But that the Benzamycin and antibiotic will do nothing for the white heads. But she said that is the most gentle retinoid and she is trying to do as gentle a treatment as possible for me and then work up, if needed. I think I'm going to wait on the Differin.

Anyway, this is the 3rd derm that wanted me to take an oral antibiotic. I am hesitant, but I took my first pill today. I can't afford any more scars and nothing is getting it under control. And I do remember that the last time I had a really bad break out before I used Proactiv, I got sick and was on Amoxicillin for a few weeks. And it seemed to wipe things out enough for me to keep it under control from that point on. So my new regimen will be Benzamycin and a gentle cleanser in the mornings. I'm going to use the Proactive cleanser and toner at night (my own decision), but not the BP lotion, so I can get some exfoliation from the cleanser and healing from the glycolic acid in the toner, without having to use the retinoid.

As for Yaz, for the other poster...I took Yaz for 2 months last year and was SO sick and it totally screwed up my sex drive and sexual response. Scared me to death! I have taken Yaz, Estrostep, Ovcon-35, OTC lo and Lo/Ovral. Lo/Ovral was the best for me overall but I still am worried about taking it due to the androgenic progestin.

And wow that's really interesting about weight and estrogen levels! I really feel like my hormones are completely out of whack right now. I was hesitant to use Loestrin because it is low estrogen and I really think I need more. Hmmm...

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Wow, you guys sound a lot like me. I'm 27 and have had trouble with acne since i was about 17. Back then I tried Retin-A which I didn't think worked, then went on an antibiotic and maybe a topical (if so I don't remember), which helped a bit but was putting these blue deposits in my skin so the dermatologist told me to stop. They upset my stomach too. They put me on some other type of topical gel (I wish I could remember this stuff but it was so long ago). I started Ortho Tri Cyclen but didn't feel like it was doing anything good for my skin, so I switched. I don't remember which brand I was on. In college my acne was pretty manageable, I think I used Mary Kay skincare for awhile, then ProActive and stayed on birth control and my skin was decent. I think a little while after I graduated my gynecologist switched my birth control to Tri-Levlen b/c I was having some health problems and she wanted to make sure it wasn't the BC so I think she switched me to one with lower estrogen. That plus the Pro Active still seemed to keep my skin pretty decent with the occasional breakout. At one point I stopped using Pro Active and switched to Dan's regimine, I don't remember why but I must have thought the Pro Active wasn't working anymore. My skin still wasn't too bad. But this year things just haven't been good. I've been getting more and more of the huge chin pustules and occasionally huge pustules on the sides of my nose. But my chin has always taken the biggest beating. It's been a lot more frequent recently and especially in the last two months. I can't figure out what's going on though - I haven't changed my birth control but I do feel it's hormonal to a certain degree. This past month I didn't break out until the week before my period, then I got two huge ones. I'm making myself stick strickly to the DKR regimine and hopefully that will start helping...but I've been thinking about maybe switching back to whatever birth control I was on previously to this one (they must have it on record in the gyn's office) or trying another one....but I'm terrified that switching the pill will have drastic effects and I'll break out really bad. I"m sort of at a loss for what to do right now....I don't really want to go back to the dermatologist b/c I'm afraid they will want to put me on some type of either topical or oral antibiotics and I don't believe those are good for the body b/c you can build up a resistance to them. My skin is now oily and my big pores look even bigger.

I kept looking back at photos of myself in college and wondering why my skin was doing so good back then. I slept like crap, ate like crap, and I'm pretty sure all I was really doing was using ProActive and staying on birth control....so I can't figure out why things are getting bad again other than my hormones might be shifting. I'm so sick of this acne crap, but it looks like I'm going to have to live with it forever. It's so nice to see other women my age still having troubles like me, because I often feel so alone. To make matters worse, I met a great guy nine months ago when my skin was looking good, and I'm totally embarassed around him now that it's looking terrible. AND we're moving in together in a few weeks....he'll have to see me without make up on and I can't hide in my house during my worst moments. I'm so nervous about it, even though he says it doesn't matter to him. :(

Sweetheart - are you back on birth control pills? Are you going to use that topical with the antibiotics in it indefinitely or are you going to go off it at some point? I would think your skin bacteria could get used to that as well after awhile right? And you said Yaz gave you bad side effects, but how was it for your skin?

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Hey cookie...yeah I'm back on birth control but my hormones are still totally out of whack. My skin and hair are oily too!! I don't know what's going on.

I was on OTC lo for 2 months, am on my 1st pack of Lo/Ovral now. My derm wants me to continue to use the topical antibiotic along with the oral one, but cut down the use of the topical to only once a day. I asked my internal medicine doctor about using a topical antibiotic plus an oral one. Seems like overkill to me! She said you can do that as long as you don't use the same antibiotic (i.e. don't use Erythromycin topical and Erythromycin orally, because its too much and you will get a yeast infection that will never go away!). She said the topical drug is local to your skin, and doesn't go through your system like an oral one does.

I HATE being on antibiotics. I am very much against using antibiotics unless absolutely necessary, and always have been. The topical I am ok with, it's local and has BP in it which helps prevent bacterial resistance (although I still wouldn't use it indefinitely). I am a little bit uncomfortable with taking an oral antibiotic but I remind myself that really, short term use should not cause any real damage. People use antibiotics short term all the time to cure illness, right? I DEFINITELY will not be doing this long term and I really think it's a bad idea to take oral antibiotics for more than a short period of time. I think you should just take them long enough to get things under control, then wean yourself off and onto topical methods only (which is also the opinion of the dermatologist that wants me to take them). Even though I seem to have hormonal acne, the idea is to use antibiotics get the bacteria under control again, stop the cycle, then treat the underlying cause.

I'd say if your doc wants you to take antibiotics, make sure they know what they are doing and get a second (or third) opinion. I have only agreed to take this because I got 3 different opinions that said I needed it. The particular pill I was given by this dermatologist is FDA approved to specifically treat only inflammed pimples in moderate to severe acne, but not nodulocystic acne. And it's only to be used short term. Other derms have wanted to put me on megadoses of antibiotics, indefinitely! No thank you. Just be wary.

So my plan...I see this as a short term solution to wipe everything out so I can get my skin back under control while my hormones level out. If I'm clear at 4-6 weeks I may ask her about stopping them. My plan all along was to stay on the topical antibiotic only until I was clear (or mostly clear) and until my hormones leveled out. Then stay on them for a short time after that (maybe 6 weeks) to make sure everything is under control, meanwhile slowly decreasing the frequency of application and working Proactiv back into my routine. So yes, my plan is to eventually get off all antibiotic kinds of drugs, and back into my benzoyl peroxide routine and whatever hormonal treatment I need to help with the flare-ups.

As for you...maybe consider changing pills? Sometimes pills stop working like they used to, even when you have been on them a long time. They always say to treat acne early because it's harder to treat the more severe it gets. So my theory about what happened to me, and what could be happening to you, is that you are having some hormonal changes that are causing flare ups, and the bacteria is starting to grow in number. I'd definitely do something soon if you notice it is getting worse. Don't do what I did, and wait 2 months to get help! I feel your pain too...I was dating a guy that I met in late Feb. My skin was totally clear. We got serious in March, and my skin started exploding in April. I never wanted him to see me and never let him see me without makeup. We broke up a month ago, and he wants to see me, but I don't want to see him. I don't look like I did when we met. :cry:

Oh and Yaz was ok for my skin. But from my research, I have read that generally you want a higher estrogen pill if you have acne trouble. Yaz is low (20 mcgm). OTC lo was 25. Lo/Ovral is 30. This is the reason I question my OBGYN's desire to switch me to Loestrin (20 mcgm). What pill are you on now?

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BC pills are all about balancing. I can't take the really low estrogens b/c I will menstrate the entire month if I do. I'm on Yasmin which is considered a lower estrogen but w/ the DRSP angle. I've had spotting but nothing like I did on Ortho tri lo. I think staying on it is key too. Some of our bodies take a while to get used to it.

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Yasmin has 30 mcgm of estrogen. It's still considered "low estrogen", but it's at the level generally recommended for acne (30-35 mcgm). Regular Ortho Tri-cyclen, for example, has 35 mcgm.

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