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MilGirl

Suddenly breaking out like mad!

Hello... this is my first post here but I've been reading the site for about 6 wks. I'm 28 y/o female, in the military. I have had some occasional cystic acne over the years since puberty but nothing like what started happening out of the blue about 6 wks ago. I remember it started with one - in the worst place, of course, the center of my forehead where it could catch all the light and announce it's presence! Then another on my chin, then another, and another... last week I counted 12 at the SAME TIME! I have NEVER experienced this kind of thing. I am not even going to count what's on my face right now, it's too depressing. I am so embarassed... normally, I am very confident in my looks, but now I don't want to leave the house. Needless to say that isn't an option in my career field.

I finally scheduled an appt with my Gynecologist because I was convinced it had to be hormonally related. I had a total hysterectomy when I was 23 (long story) so I've been on hormone replacement therapy all this time. I have tried the "natural herbal" route but I'm too young for those weak things, also I have tried going without hormones at all - big, big mistake.

I am a fitness nut and about 2 months ago really increased my running miles per week (from about 10 to 20+). I wondered if that hormone pill (which contained some testosterone) combined with that increase of sweating might have been what triggered this... but hard to say. I have been working out 6x or more per week this past year and never had a reaction like this, you know?

I have a very "clean" diet, drink tons of water, take my multi-vitamins, and the only prescription I've been on is that hormone replacement (estratest - 1.5-2.5 mg daily). I requested the doc change my hormone - frankly, I haven't been thrilled with it for a while anyway. I now have "estradiol" or "ogen" 1 mg daily, which is supposed to be a more natural form of estragen. I discussed the acne with her and she said she didn't feel comfortable prescribing anything more than Retin A cream, .05%. She didn't really explain it to me so everything I know is from reading online. I also bought some gentle cleanser at GNC that's got cucumber in it- I must say, it does make my skin feel clean but NOT dry so I kind of like it. I am using cetaphilfor a moisturizer at least 2x a day. She said I could go to the flight doc, but they are all males in that office, and what you hear about military docs tends to be true. I don't want to play guinea pig.

I am trying VERY hard not to touch my face, if I have to touch it (applying makeup, etc) I make sure to thoroughly wash my hands first. I bought all new makeup also. I am extremely upset by this breakout and even embarassed for my husband to see me sans makeup (for sure, it's all non-pore-clogging). However, when at home, I let my skin breath. When going anywhere, I am using physicians formula green cover-up stick, then a light concealer only where needed (which is a lot of places right now!), and sheer powder to set. I'm a huge fan of the Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheetsto remove excess oil without removing makeup. I've used those for over 3 yrs with no previous major breakouts so I know they are ok... Am trying not to "over wash" which is hard for someone with a very oiley t-zone, but the Retin-A is drying enough that if I wash with anything but the cucumber stuff then my face flakes horribly and itches. So only washing morning (practically a puddle of oil!), after work-outs and before bed.

Anyway sorry to drag on, but wanted to be thorough. Any other suggestions from anyone? I'm trying so hard to be patient. I have only been on the new hormone therapy and Retin A since Tuesday (4 days). I definitely noted the "peeling" effect but that cetaphil moisturizer is pretty good stuff and has helped immensely. Skin is more sensitive, for sure, and the discolorations are more vivid. Getting ready to leave the house takes a good 30 minutes now, whereas in the past it took maybe 5-10. I find myself looking in the mirror a lot but am trying to "forget" about it (YEA RIGHT) and relax. I don't want to look people in the eye because then I see them looking at other areas of my face. Man, my confidence has plummeted!

Also, high stress right now, working nights the past 4 months (12 hr shifts for 4 yrs), getting ready to move overseas sans my 6 yr old and husband for a year long assignment... Stress probably is a factor here, which acne isn't helping to improve.

Thanks for reading this LONG blog! Any advice, suggestions, whatever - PLEASE post!

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Also should add, it takes quite a while to get a referral to see a derm (would have to go off-base to a civilian), then wait on appt time. Due to my orders taking effect in less than 2 months, I won't be able to see one before I go, and there will not be one in my new location. So........ I'm a bit limited on what I can do on that front.

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My advice right off the bat is STOP RETIN-A. The stuff is just god-awful for your skin, and what typically happens is you break out like hell at first (for 2-6 weeks), and then slowly the acne subsides... but then you start breaking out even more later on down the road. Either that or you stop taking it and you get worse acne than when you started out. I'm saying this from experience. I don't know how far you are on the stuff but I'd recommend you stop taking it now and maybe if you feel it's working take it in gradually larger amounts with long intervals. Retin-A tends to stay in the skin and keep it peeling to an extent for up to two weeks after you've stopped using it!

Also, if your acne is severe at all, I'd recommend only washing your face in the shower after rinsing you hair once or twice a day. Washing in the sink and using mild cleansers (and abrasive ones for that one) tend to only make things worse. Also try zinc. The naturopathic way of determining whether you need it is by putting a drop on the tongue and seeing if you taste it. It might taste like mildly alkaline water or nothing at all if you don't need it. Foods that contain it, especially dairy, often break you out more. I'd recommend trying fish oil too, but some people with oily t-zones can get oilier because of it. Hope this helps! Not trying to sound pro or anything, because I'm definitely not. This is just generic advice.

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My advice right off the bat is STOP RETIN-A. The stuff is just god-awful for your skin, and what typically happens is you break out like hell at first (for 2-6 weeks), and then slowly the acne subsides... but then you start breaking out even more later on down the road. Either that or you stop taking it and you get worse acne than when you started out. I'm saying this from experience. I don't know how far you are on the stuff but I'd recommend you stop taking it now and maybe if you feel it's working take it in gradually larger amounts with long intervals. Retin-A tends to stay in the skin and keep it peeling to an extent for up to two weeks after you've stopped using it!

Also, if your acne is severe at all, I'd recommend only washing your face in the shower after rinsing you hair once or twice a day. Washing in the sink and using mild cleansers (and abrasive ones for that one) tend to only make things worse. Also try zinc. The naturopathic way of determining whether you need it is by putting a drop on the tongue and seeing if you taste it. It might taste like mildly alkaline water or nothing at all if you don't need it. Foods that contain it, especially dairy, often break you out more. I'd recommend trying fish oil too, but some people with oily t-zones can get oilier because of it. Hope this helps! Not trying to sound pro or anything, because I'm definitely not. This is just generic advice.

Thanks for your reply. I heard about the initial breakout thing with Retin-A - some people get it really bad for a few months and quit taking it before it starts working for them. So far it seems to be helping a little, although it's very early yet to say for sure. I've noticed the cystic spots are actually softer and going away a lot faster. Today is a "better" day for my skin than I've had for a while. Granted, the discoloration is more vivid than I am used to but I think that will start to fade if I am just patient (which is the hard part, right?!). I am making sure to only use the pea size amount at bedtime as directed and am prepared to back off it is gets overly drying (5 days in, doing ok so long as I use the cetaphil moisturizer).

I did get some zinc supplements today. Looked for the no-flush niacin which I read about here but our GNC was sold out so I'll check again in a couple of days. I have definitely slowed down on the washing and I think using the less abrasive or drying type of cleansers is also helping. It's funny that having oily skin, you would think you should use the type that dry it up a bit, but that's not true apparently. All this time I swore that was what I needed, but it was really the opposite. I think it's too soon to stop taking the Retin-A, honestly. A lot of people have success with it so I think it's worth giving it a good try.

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Definitely do the zinc tabs - high dosage and I also have started on evening primrose 4,000mg per day.

This has kept any cysts from occurring. Really happy with the results so far. I have hormonal acne, but so far since using this regimen no more cysts!!!

Those cysts are really buggers!!!! Try this and see if it helps you. its definitely helped me!!

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Definitely do the zinc tabs - high dosage and I also have started on evening primrose 4,000mg per day.

This has kept any cysts from occurring. Really happy with the results so far. I have hormonal acne, but so far since using this regimen no more cysts!!!

Those cysts are really buggers!!!! Try this and see if it helps you. its definitely helped me!!

I started a new multi-vitamin for menopausal women that has the evening primrose in it, but that was just Tuesday. I don't have the box here (at the office) so I will have to double check how much is in it. I thought about getting a separate bottle of it, but we'll see... the zinc tabs I got are 100 mg. I took one before work tonight. Thanks for the suggestion! I will see if it has that much evening primrose, if not I'll maybe have to add some.

I am just so tired of this! I mean, I don't get why all of a sudden my hormone replacement therapy seemed to just majorly FAIL on me in every way. I cannot figure out why else I'd break out like this out of the blue. Grrr!!!! Hopefully over the next week or two, I'll flush out all the bad stuff and my skin will start looking like my skin again (plus I am sure tons of red scars that will take months to fade away!). I am off work the next 3 nights and intend to spend as much time make-up free (at home) as possible.

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Exactly what happened to you, breaking out all of a sudden, that happened to me. and cysts, not just those small pimples, cysts. arrrggghhh! I actually wondered if it could be the paraguard I.u.d i had inserted, a few months ago, but i remember prior to that, breaking out, so its not that.

this regimen of evening primrose oil and zinc tabs (definitely get separate epo and make sure you take enough and then when you improve you can taper down, i am on 4,000 mg a day, which is 4 epo tabs.

the zinc i take is 120mg, dont even know if that is too much, but now that my skin has settled down, no NEW cysts whatsoever since starting the epo/zinc, i may taper it down.

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I'd say do zinc as well. I take one 50 mg pill everyday, it literally cleared me in a couple of weeks. Now instead of cysts I get very small ones which are gone in 1 day or less.

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hi rdman

since this regimen of epo and zinc, i have had NO new breakouts! amazing,and I just had my monthly, and normalloy have a nice big cyst, but nothing now.

this seems to be a winner regimen thus far.

The B.P. neutrogena cream really sensitized my skin, so i dont use anything on my acne, but now I don't have any breakouts to use any creams on!

so glad i found the zinc, and epo. was gettin desperate

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I have been taking the zinc for 2 days. Things aren't getting worse. Can't say they are hugely improved (a tad bit better), but it's only 2 days! The vitamin box doesn't say how much evening primrose oil is in it. I have to run by GNC tomorrow anyway so I'll inquire on it. They also sell it separately, so while I'm grabbing melatonin (databased recommended it) I will possibly get that.

I have a few newer spots, but they are softer and smaller. 1 big one that appeared on my chin but it's not as hard and painful and I suspect it will go away faster than normal. I'm not drying out too badly from the Retin-A either but I have to use the cetaphil moisturizer 2x a day or I will flake!

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Also should add, it takes quite a while to get a referral to see a derm (would have to go off-base to a civilian), then wait on appt time. Due to my orders taking effect in less than 2 months, I won't be able to see one before I go, and there will not be one in my new location. So........ I'm a bit limited on what I can do on that front.

I hear ya. I am in the military too and i wish i could just stay home but its def not an option. I hate looking people in the eye because i see them glance at my breakouts on chin too and that sux so fn bad i hate it. Also it is a pain in the ass to get referred to see a derm i know what u mean, my PCM wont even let me see one, he just says their going to say what he says and give same treatment to me. What a bunch of shit i say. I have to wake up way early too just to try and take care of my face i hate it, use to jus shower and walk out the door. Been in military 8 years, and have been dealing with this for one year now and i think its gonna last me forever cause no matter what i try i get the same embarrasing shit in the same embarrasing places. I have went home to visit every summer on leave to visit fam and friends and this was the first summer in 8 years that i did not go home. So very depressing. I so know how you feel trust me. I can not stop wanting to see myself in mirror either hoping each time i look i will see improvement, some days i do and i do get better then all of a sudden back to the ugly drawing board again. Sigh takes so much outta me.

Edited by JayQ

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JayQ, I understand where you are coming from. I have had a hard time even getting leave approved once a year since we're so short on manning. The last thing I want to do is go home to say goodbye prior to my overseas orders - looking like h*ll - then show up at a new base looking like that! I am sure it's hormone related, plus being left on night shift for so long. Add some stress with out-processing, an always unpredictable sleep schedule, and you get ugliness..... *sigh* The problem is getting the cycle to stop. I'm not giving up, it's not in my nature, but I am definitely very frustrated by it!!!

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JayQ, I understand where you are coming from. I have had a hard time even getting leave approved once a year since we're so short on manning. The last thing I want to do is go home to say goodbye prior to my overseas orders - looking like h*ll - then show up at a new base looking like that! I am sure it's hormone related, plus being left on night shift for so long. Add some stress with out-processing, an always unpredictable sleep schedule, and you get ugliness..... *sigh* The problem is getting the cycle to stop. I'm not giving up, it's not in my nature, but I am definitely very frustrated by it!!!

I def believe mine is hormonal related too which sux for being a guy since we can not take BC pills like most girls do to help. Im not giving up either but it is really really frustrating.

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I can't take BC pills either, though I am a girl! I have just changed my hormone replacement therapy because I think it was negatively affecting my skin (it had a small amount of testosterone in it). It didn't used to bother me, but the higher stress level and non-stop night shifts on top of it could have played a role. I just sent my husband to grab some no-flush niacin on his way home as well!

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have u tried that rooibus tea that is on that other thread.

i bought it, (didnt know it had skin benefits) and noticed my skin glowing.

You could maybe also try this, its quite cheap

Epo should be 1,000 mg or 1g.

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Wouldn't you know, I forgot the EPO when I was at GNC! LMAO! I've been so overwhelmed with things I feel like I'm losing my mind. I'll run by there on my way to the gym this afternoon. They know me by name now!

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Good luck! I am sure with perserverance you will beat this! If I can, you can too! :)

Drinking my rooibus tea right now. this stuff is great for skin!! and I thought green tea was meant to be the best, but never noticed muc of a difference with it

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something eles i forgot to tell you (sorry for typos typing fast)

for the active cysts, rightnow, try 4-6 raw garlic cloves in your food. works best i find if you crush the garlic (2 cloves per slice of toast) and spread it on your toast, chill some baked beans, and eat. it doesnt burn your mouth as much from the garlic

or you could just mix it through rice, with some kind of stir fry, very important that the garlic is RAW and not heated at all.

this for me, when i had cysts, prevented me from having to go to the doctor and go onto antibiotics, or get a cortisone shot. it takes about 2 days of eating the raw garlic for the cyst to significantly reduce, and once that hapens, it will drastically start to heal and no longer bump out or get infected.

you could give it a try if you feel desperate!!! it definitely cuts the infection in the cyst, and reduces the size. do not apply the garlic to the cyst, I found this made it worse, but internally eating it was the best!!!

the zinc and epo will prevent any further cysts from developoing the garlic will take down the current cysts

let us know how it all goes for you! you can beat this!!

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Raw garlic... yum?! LOL! I will consider that although my husband will think I've totally gone off the deep end. Today I didn't wash my face when I got out of bed - first time in memory I've done that. I rinsed with cold water and applied some antibacterial enzyme gel (made by Clear Skin, purchased from Sephora). It did seem to reduce the irritation and inflamation around that d*mn cluster I have had on my chin for a few weeks. It shrunk noticeably overnight! So I think the antibacterial is a winner. I did wash my face after I worked out - you can't run 5 miles & NOT wash, you know? Ick.

I am going to try only washing my face after work-outs and before bed and see how it goes. Seems like it's less irritating. Changing my way of thinking about skin care is very hard but I see a lot of good information here and it makes sense. Irritatation can be caused by over-washing and/or over-treating, not just picking! The bad thing is I am definitely itchy and it takes a great deal of will power not to touch my face.

I grabbed the EPO today, so now I've got no-flush niacin, zinc, melatonin, & EPO on top of my regular menopausal multi's (not taken at the same time!). I spread them out through the day and melatonin is an hour before bed. I think the zinc made me queasy yesterday even with food so I have to be sure to give food enough time to settle before taking the zinc. That tea sounds interesting. I am a green tea addict, not because I enjoy it (frankly, I don't) but because of the anti-oxidants. Perhaps I'll order some of this stuff you suggest and see if I can stomach it better.

The good news is - the cluster is shrinking and I think it's going away at last. The other big one on my chin is "soft" and doesn't seem like it's getting worse. A new one is possible on my forehead, but it's not that immediate swelling/irritation/pain that most cysts cause, so I have actual hope that it's not going to turn into a horn! Otherwise, I do have some small regular zits that I am not touching and which (if I can maintain my willpower) will probably go away pretty darn fast! I am feeling some positive emotion about my chances!

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the best way to kill a cyst is to ice ASAP that it appears!!! I ice for at least 2 mins holding a flannel or a tissue with the ice inside to protect the skin. dont wait for it to enlarge, the ice really helps.

and there was a post on here bout taking ibuprofin and applying a topical as well.

sounds loike the best way to kill a cyst in its tracks!!

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Yes I've been taking ibuprofen, sorry I forgot to mention it amongst the complication of the rest of my regimen! When they start to look like they are swelling, I ice them. Usually when I get home from work, gently wash being sure to rinse in cold water, then ice. It helps bring it down for a time, but once the coldness wears off it'll just swell back up. I can't walk around with an ice cube attached to my face! LOL!! The itchiness is driving me crazy tonight. I dug through my bag but alas, no benadryl present (I had hoped it would help the itch).

I don't know if it'll help my skin but I gotta say this yerba mate tea tastes a lot better than green tea. I did order the rooibos tea online a while ago!

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