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Should I start my retinoid in the condition my skin is in?

I really hope someone can help me. I've always had very mild acne but in the past year and a half a combination of birth control, severe stress, and a minimal skin regimen (I had trouble taking care of myself) have caused a severe acne breakout. The pores on my inner cheek are clogged to the point that I can see when I get close up that there is some pale white residue clogging them (sorry this is gross). My skin is red, dry, tender, swollen, and I have atleast 7 white heads on my outer cheeks.

I'm ready to turn things around and make it better, and I went to a derm who prescribed me an antibiotic and Tazorac. She told me to use a washcloth when I wash my face.

I'm already noticing some ice pick scarring which is really scary and I'm not sure if I want to use something abrasive to wash my face with. I'm also scared to start using the medication and then moisturizer because my skin is so dry and clogged. Is there a way for me unclog my pores a little (steaming...?) and gently, as well as restore moisture before I start drying it out with the retinoid? Can I use moisturizer right now?


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Retinoids are designed to clear your pores and reduce the risk of new clogs developing, so active blackheads and whiteheads shouldn't be a factor. Also, it speeds up cell regeneration which leads to sloughing of the skin (peeling), but this doesn't necessarily equal dryness. I'm assuming your dermatologist thinks your skin is "ready" since she prescribed it, so you're probably OK to start your treatment. Best of luck!

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I don't want to scare you away from Tazorac, but my experience with it was horrible. Scarring from acne was never a concern of mine until I was a few months into using Taz. I now have cheeks full of scarred pores, and I can't help but feel the Taz had something to do with it.

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