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Beautiful Disaster

29-Newly Ravaged by Sever Acne-Confused & Desperate

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Hello all! First, let me say that I haven't jumped the gun. I'm not posting without doing research and post readings extensively. Also, I'm not posting too soon after beginning treatment. Moreover, thanks in advance to those kind enough to spare a moment for me, a stranger. I know it's quite a long post, but the venting alone is some comfort.

Facts:

Age: 29 (til March 28 anyway...lol)

From: Southeastern Louisiana in Bayou Country

History of Acne: basic, minimal hormonal breakouts during teens; no family history except for one cousin

Medications: Synthroid (75), Adderall (20), Doryx (150), topical tretinoin

I came from a family of fresh faces. I only experienced light "standard" breakouts now and then when stressed or under pressure (involved in professional and non-paid acting, pageants, singing, and a barrage of extracurricular activities). After the birth of my 1st child at 18 (yes, I was young), I began having what I thought were horrendous breakouts. (Now, I would classify them as...eh...moderate.) My mother brought me to a combination office (aesthetician/physician) who performed a Beta peel and recommended a three step regimen that included a glycolic product left on the skin for 1-3 minutes.

Although the first week after the Beta peel left me looking like I had some awful disease as the skin of my entire face peeled in much thicker and darker pieces than any sunburn I'd ever had, the rest was bliss. My skin was beautiful--almost as lovely as the glowing, Cappuccino colored skin I had as a child. I used the regimen as directed...well...with gaps here and there. Still, my skin was wonderful. However, I should note that I also started receiving Depo-Provera birth control shots at right about the same time I had the acne treatment.

I was on and off Depo for a few years following that and gave birth two more times during those years. In 2005, I received Depo every 3 months as directed. I noticed, though, that I had gained a ridiculous amount of weight in a matter of 3 months (60 lbs.) and immediately saw a doctor, since I have an absurd family history of SERIOUS hypothyroidism, including my mother. I was brushed off time and again. "Just eat less." "Let's be honest, hun. There's a reason you're fat." "Portion control. Have you tried that yet?" I FINALLY got a doctor to listen to me. Guess what? Hypothyroidism. So, I've been taking Synthroid ever since.

I was also noticing my hair thinning in the front hairline during that time, corner to corner so to speak. The doctor said that it was related to my thyroid and informed me that things should improve as my body acclimated to the medication once the correct dosage was established.

Mind you, ALL this time, my skin was as close to perfection as I could have asked for--while on Depo and not menstruating at all. (So, I was on the shot consistently for 3 yrs.)

I had the Essure sterilization procedure in Dec. 0f 2008. (I only had one inserted because I only have 1 fallopian tube remaining after an ectopic pregnancy in 2001. That was my last Depo injection. I began menstruating again four months after I had the last shot.

Two months later, I began the Adderall. Still good. For awhile anyway.

In the spring of 2010, I began having breakouts. Not horrible, but enough to send me to Wal-Mart for an Acne-Free Severe kit.

It wasn't doing much other than bleaching my hairline. So, I purchased a Murad regimen. Again, nothing. In fact, it seemed to be getting progressively worse. During this same time frame, my frustration over acne was worsened by the SUDDEN appearance of black hair on my upper lip and chin. Worse, the same kinds of hair began popping up on, of all places (and, mind you, this is embarrassing and hard to say) my areola. Weirder, though, the amount of hair in all those places seemed to be more around my period. Then, I noticed the "peach fuzz" of my face, I don't know, getting thicker I guess and more noticeable. Granted, it's still peach fuzz, but there IS a noticeable difference. When I told my doctor about all of this, he went over my entire family history and suggested a strong possibility of PCOS. However, he said my hormone levels were "within the normal range" when the test results came back. And that was it. End of story.

He referred me to a dermatologist. Since I have Medicaid for now, he's limited on what he can prescribe me. So, he prescribed Doryx (doxycycline) 150 mg. once a day. He saw me in one month. At the time, I felt like it was starting to do something. At the end of the third month, he saw me again. At this point, I can't decide whether things are staying the same or getting slightly worse. However, the particular day I saw him was during what I now consider a "pretty good week." This is the point where the doctor adds a topical tretinoin treatment to go along with the Doryx--same dose. The tretinoin is a low dose, a beginner's dose, the nurses said.

Now, I have oily skin. About a week before my cycle starts, I notice my skin getting even more so. During the week or couple of days during my period, it's unbearably just downright greasy, tapering to my normal slick over the week following. This three week time frame is a progression of awful, going from getting oilier and starting to breakout to WHAM to omg my face is covered, the "bad ones" actually sore and hard to eh, I'm thinking about trying to think about healing. I was getting one decent week out of a 4 week month, but not now.

The topical stuff is making my face tight tight tight and flaky in spots. Okay. I expect as much. What I did not expect, though, is that I would be looking in the mirror now, thinking that this is the worst my skin has ever looked. For example, it's almost as though my skin on my forehead is shiny but transparent enough to see a layer of little red bumps under the surface, with more bumpy skin than not. Along my temple area, mid-cheeks, and just over the eyebrows are the bad ones.

The doctor says that it sounds hormonal, but the three week part of it indicates that the one week per month birth control treatment wouldn't do much in that case. It's been about 3- 3 1/2 weeks since he added the topical treatment. I understand getting worse before it gets better but...

I'm also frustrated and confused as I research acne. I hear and read about how acne usually goes away on its on by the twenties but can persist longer or that it can occur in people in their fifties. So, does that mean that my acne, rearing its ugly head (pun intended) in my late twenties might "go away on its own at some undefined time? Or is that limited to when the onset began earlier?

I've learned there is no "cure." Great. Does that mean I will be taking antibiotics or other not-so-great-for-long-term-use medications for the rest of my life? Will I be applying topical products and combating the precarious balance of extra oily/dry and flaking for decades?

Will I eventually just end up with my face a destroyed, red, bumpy, scarred mess after the longevity of each treatment diminishes and have to "deal with it?"

Should I fight the little voice saying that I don't know what I'm talking about because I'm not a doctor, and I shouldn't consider PCOS or some other hormonal issue because my levels were within the normal range? Or, should I acknowledge this pressing feeling that, no, something--SOMETHING--is wrong--that, maybe, those normal levels are hard to use as a basis for diagnosis since it was the first and only time those have been tested--that there is a reason these NEW hairs are popping up in manly places, even more so around my period--that I shed WAY too much hair, even though my hair is very thick (thank God it is and that it started off VERY thick)--that my periods are getting more bothersome the more I have?

Should I expect better progress in the 4 months, give or take a week or two, I've been on the Doryx and including the few weeks using the tretinoin?

As far as stress...I'm actually less stressed now than I was, say, two months ago (finishing college). Don't get me wrong, I'm stressed virtually constantly, but less. Sleep, on the other hand, has been a battle since I was knee high to a bull frog. I have bout after bout of insomnia, always feel like I could go to sleep during the day, and don't feel even the slightest bit rested unless I slept for 10-12 hours. I wouldn't call it sleep, though. I wake up God knows how many times during the night and tend to have nightmares that make Wes Craven and Stephen King books seem like Dr. Seuss. So, I doubt sleep or stress are the issue since they're constant issues and always have been.

I know this is extremely long, but I had to get it off my chest, to vent to someone--anyone--who might even remotely understand where I'm coming from, someone who might be able to say, "Amanda, you're overthinking this. That's perfectly normal. Forget about the hormonal thing," or, "Amanda, I'm not a doctor, but you're not crazy. You should be concerned. You might think about..."

Anything....

I'm including a picture taken just over a year ago. I have a little makeup on, but you can see the clarity of my skin versus the second picture taken a few minutes ago.

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Hey, I just posted something in the other thread about the girl being in her twenties and getting acne for the first time.... I'll just post here what I posted in hers because I have the same advice for you :)......

I started to get acne when I was 19/20, never had it in high school. I've been struggling with it ever since.

I did all the derm stuff like creams and stuff, nothing worked. I got acne in my 4th year of being on the BCP Othro-Tricylcen. Honestly though for ME I fianlly discovered that it was my over all HEALTH that was the problem. I had been on so many courses of antibiotics in my lifetime, my body just had NO immune system anymore (anitibiotics KILL good bacteria in your gut), I had no defenses against anything.

After being to a million medical doctors with NOTHING working....I went to a naturopathic doctor who advised me to go off of the birth control pill and take a few natural herbal supplements that help balance your homormones . Also, do you have any other health problems? Stomach issues? Anything? being on the pill so long and taking antibiotics gave me CANDIDA. It is an over growth of yeast in the body and can cause many problems like being sleepy all the time, stomach issues, allergies, yeast infections, acne, eczema, rashes, hair loss, depression... the list goes on....

I think you should check out this website called "Healing Naturally by Bee". Read through some of the articles and problems people have had... It will help you. And if you feel you need to start her program (which will benefit ANYONE), then you can.

I was on Bee's program for 4 months and it helped me alot, I need to go back on it.

As for topical stuff, I think you should try to be as natural as possible with your skin, give it what it needs and thats it! Be gentle.... I use a mild natural Witch Hazel toner from the health food store to cleanse my face with a cotton pad. Then I gently use a soft face brush to get all the dead skin off my face (careful not to go over any active pimples becaus eyou migth spread it).Then I splash my face with water a few times and then dry and use a Neem extract liquid (not oil) all over my face, then I moisturize with plain old Jojob oil. Just use your damp hands and pour a few drops of the oil on your hands and rub them together then rub into you face. Be VERY GENTLE.

I hope this helps you... Healing your skin comes from the inside mostly, so eat a clean diet like Bee suggests.

Good luck!

Taryn

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Hi there

Just going on the photo (and not to diminish your worry over it) but your acne looks pretty mild to me, not severe at all. I think the tightness and so on that you describe with the tretinoin is standard in the first few weeks - I've had acne on and off all my adult life and did use tretinoin gel for several years throughout my 20s and it did work really well, but it probably took a few months though.

What with the facial hair and so on, it does sounds like your hormones are a bit all over the place, or that your skin is very sensitive to androgens (I've read that sometimes hormone levels can be 'normal' but some people are, or just become, sensitive to androgens and their skin reacts). I think I am one of those people too, but don't know what the answer is :confused:

Have you had your thyroid levels checked recently, could the thyroid medication/doseage be a factor?

Edited by UKLady
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Hey there, sorry to hear about your suffering.

I am not a doctor, but it sounds like you've put your body through A LOT the past decade. A lot of synthetic hormones, medicines, stress. I don't know about Essure, but check out on google/message boards whether other women have had similar experiences.

As for the dry/scaly skin, that is very typical for tretinoin. Many people have good outcomes with it, but you have to go through an initial break out. Basically, it sheds your skin at fast rate, and you get all the break outs you would have had in 6 months in 8 weeks (or something like that). Check out the treatment logs of other acne.org members to get a sense of their experiences.

Like tdot, I like to go as natural as possible. I see an acupuncturist, exercise x3/week, and eat a gluten free, sugar free, dairy free diet as much as I can (no processed or fried foods either, and very little eating out). This helps me immensely, but I still get pimples here and there. It's life.

In my humble opinion, your photos show very mild, barely noticeable acne. I know that it must be difficult and look awful to you, as we are all our worst critics, but there are many on these boards who would love to have acne as mild as yours.

Take care and try not to stress out too much.

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Hey! Check out the hormonal acne thread, in particular posts on Spironolactone. Do some research and then ask your derm/gyno/endocrinologist about it. I was on Spiro a while back and within 1 month I was clear. It is an androgen-blocker, so it should help with your unwanted hair.

Cheers!

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Thanks to everyone for the advice. Please don't think me silly. I realize that the photo doesn't portray the kind of acne I seem to be implying. However, I could not seem to get the photo/lighting to reflect what was actually there. I also happened to be in a sort of decline at the time. Severe is not my word; it's Dr. Mora's.

I'm going to check into the things you guys have mentioned. Again, I really appreciate it.

------------------------

Thyroid levels remain stable.

No other health problems identified. (key word--identified)

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I would get off the tretinion. I tried it when I was young and it broke me out really bad. I started getting very large ones like never before. I actually had to go on accutane in order to control it and it's been a battle for the past 10 years or so since. I'm pretty sure it ruined my skin...just my two cents.

I have found that the bp on this site (the regimen) works the best of anything I have tried. Although I was skeptical at first...it is the only thing that has ever brought me even close to being clear. Also, I have discovered that if your hormones are out of whack (even with normal blood tests) it doesn't matter what topicals you use...your skin will break out.

Good luck and you are completely normal. Of course you are concerned about your skin...we all are :)

Cheers

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Hi Beautiful Disaster,

I understand what you’re going through but I don't have any advice. I just wanted to say from your picture you are absolutely stunning, I know it’s hard for us to see past the acne sometimes but as an outsider I think you’re incredibly beautiful. (I’m 100% straight; I just thought I'd comment on how fab you are :D )

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Hi Beautiful Disaster,

I understand what you’re going through but I don't have any advice. I just wanted to say from your picture you are absolutely stunning, I know it’s hard for us to see past the acne sometimes but as an outsider I think you’re incredibly beautiful. (I’m 100% straight; I just thought I'd comment on how fab you are :D )

Thank you. It is hard to see past the acne. For the week a month where it seems like it's getting better (that's the second picture), I feel hopeful and pretty. For the other 3 weeks, it's hard--mostly because everyone who knows me knows me as having clear skin. So when I'm broke out with large, red, painful pimples all over, I can't help but be conscious of it because they notice, they comment, and their eyes shift over my face as they talk to me. Granted, they're not mean about it, but you can see/hear how distracting it is to them. Again, thanks for the compliment. Believe it or not, it helps.

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Oh heavenly blessed beauty, I would drag my balls through a mile of broken glass just to smell the ground your dog shat on.

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had perfect skin as a teen but once I turned 20, BOOM. Docs and Derms were no help, but I figured out that the problem all started when something changed in my tap water. They replaced the chlorine with chloramine (combination of chlorine and ammonia) which irritated the heck out of my sensitive skin. The problem went misdiagnosed as acne for years before I figured out it was Folliculitis, a overgrowth of yeast in the skin which has symptoms very similar to acne . My suspicion is that the chloramine dried out my skin so bad that it had to work overtime to self moisturize by increasing sebum production, thus allowing the yeast overgrowth. Washing my face with bottled water helps, but if the problem is advanced, you need to try anti-fungal topicals or oral medications (ask a derm) ZNP soap bar and tea tree oils should work if it is a fungal problem.

good luck :)

For tips got to a thread titled"Pityrosporum Folliculitis"

There are a lot of people on there with similar symptoms that appear to be acne that arise suddenly out of nowhere.

Hope this helps anyone that is suffering needlessly.

Chin up guys :)

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