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Sudden Adult Onset Acne - Very Long, Basically Just Sharing My Story.

Hey guys, this is going to be pretty long, but I just wanted to share what's going on with my skin right now. I'm always searching for things on the internet/people's experiences, and some posts really help me, so I figured I'd publicly document it in case I might help someone, too. Hopefully I'm not posting this in the wrong place.

So, I've been an occasional lurker on this site for a couple years now. I used to suffer terribly from large, painful cystic bacne (I have another username that I no longer have access to - radioh 322, if you want to search - there are a couple photos of my bacne and what it's like since I've been using Head & Shoulders, tea tree oil and Neutrogena 3-in-1 salicylic acid). Thankfully, my bacne has been more or less under control since late 2008-early 2009. My face, however, has always been almost perfectly clear. From the time I was about 14 or 15 (I'm 25 now), I had a steady regimen that consisted of Neutrogena Clear Pore Astringent, Neutrogena Clear Pore Nighttime Clarifying Gel (has been discontinued for years now), Skin Trip moisturizer, and occasional Neutrogena On-The-Spot benzoyl peroxide cream. No foundation, just concealer where needed (usually only under eye circles), and a little loose Cover Girl powder, because I have very oily skin.

Anyway, over the past five-ish months, I've developed a facial acne problem. It started with closed comedones, those noninflamed white craps, mostly on my chin, and only about four or five of them. This isn't the first time I've ever had them, but in the past, I'd just squeeze them out, and then that'd be the end of it. Maybe they'd come back, I don't know, but I wasn't so nitpicky about them because they were barely noticeable. Recently, though, I started being very nitpicky about them, squeezing them left and right, and instead of them going away, some of them now become large and inflamed (maybe my skin just isn't as resilient as it once was). Back in about August, I stopped use of my Neutrogena Clear Pore Nighttime Clarifying Gel, I'm really not sure why - I think I just got fed up with my skin (even though I only had like two pimples, nothing compared to now!), and realized I'd have to part with it eventually as it's only available on eBay and even then very scantily. So I started putting diluted tea tree oil on my face as a toner, and then the Neutrogena On-The-Spot BP cream all over my face. Things seemed fine for a little while, my skin overall improved and I decided to try to kick my comedone-squeezing habit, which my face liked. But then, one night, I figured I'd just "make it a little better" by squeezing out the couple comedones I had, and ever since, it's just been one awful thing after another. My face broke out in a couple zits, and then I decided I needed to try something new to get rid of comedones, as manual extraction just makes them worse anymore. Searched the internet, came across Paula's Choice 2% BHA gel, had high hopes, purchased, started use around the end of September. I didn't see any immediate results other than slight flaking of my skin, so one night, before putting the gel on, I applied my Skin Trip moisturizer. This must have been the worst idea ever because the next morning I woke up with tons and tons of small white clogged comedones, like nothing I'd ever had before. I freaked, and I became wary of the Paula's Choice (even though it had only been about three days of use - and even though I now think it was the moisturizer prior to BHA application that was the wrong). I then started applying the BHA only every other night or so, and sometimes just putting other crap on my face - I don't even know what all I put on it. But for the next month of so, my skin saw a huge mixture of PC BHA, tea tree oil, Neutrogena BP, joboba oil, different cleansers, Skin Trip moisturizer, Neutrogena Clear Pore astringent, Neutrogena Clear Pore Nighttime Clarifying Gel, vitamin E oil, vitamin E mask, clay mask, manual comedone extractor, even new mineral makeup, etc. I'm pretty sure I irritated my skin heavily by all of these strange and abrupt changes, because almost four weeks ago, I got the most massive cyst on my chin. I get the occasional chin cyst, but NOTHING like this thing. It was about an inch long, and stuck out about half an inch from my face, and my entire left chin/left half of face hurt like hell. When, after 3 weeks of having the thing, it finally began to drain, it drained for about 5 days straight, and one huge pimple actually popped out from it during one time I was draining it (I do drain these, when they are ready (this one started draining on its own in the shower), with a sterile needle).

Anyway. Along with this cyst, my face just kept collecting more and more comedones, and a couple pustules, and another smaller cyst. I got so terribly depressed that I broke down bawling my eyes out at work about two weeks ago. I haven't cried like that in ages. But when I got home and went to bed, I pretty much said F trying to help my skin, I need to let it recuperate. So I only cleansed (using Aveeno moisturizing bar - something I've been using for at least 7 years so I don't think that is the culprit, though I'm still considering it) twice a day for two weeks. No moisturizer, no BHA, no BP, no tea tree. Nothing except cleansing and minimal concealer where I needed it because I just can't go to school and work with glaring red pimples.

Anyway, I wrote Paula's Choice and told them my woes, they credited my account for the BHA gel and they suggested I try the liquid instead; I had no intention of trying it but I said sure send it, and so they did. I was extremely hesitant to use it (they sent it to me about a month ago, and I didn't even touch it for two weeks). But, during the time when I was only cleansing, I decided to patch test a very small, quarter-sized area above my upper lip. I had no adverse reactions, and yesterday and today, two of the comedones that I had there have actually come out, as in, they literally were hanging off of my skin. Before this happened, I watched them get smaller by the day (this isn't to say that area is now clear - I still have about five or six of these things within about an inch radius). So I decided that I would just take the plunge and apply the BHA to my entire face, because my skin is just so congested with both the closed comedones and a couple pustules here and there, and a potential new chin cyst forming (albeit much smaller than that monstrous one). Tonight will be night three of the allover BHA application. So far, my skin doesn't seem irritated, and I don't see any new comedones (but like I said I have so many now that I wouldn't even begin to know if there are any new ones). I put jojoba oil on sparingly after cleansing in the daytime (I'm only doing the BHA at night right now). And that's it. I think I might leave out the jojoba as long as my skin doesn't feel too dry. I find that if I start using multiple products at once, and have a breakout, I have trouble pinpointing the cause. So yeah, this is what I'm doing now, I'm expecting these comedones to purge out and I'm expecting at least some of them to become inflamed. I think I am emotionally ready for it. I am going to give this an honest try; if things are not better by January then it's to the dermatologist I go.

I also want to add that before this all started happening, I'd been very LOW-stress, very happy, not too anxiety-ridden (I have a severe anxiety issue), not really watching what I eat (though I have always eaten pretty healthily, avoid dairy, meat, no fast food, somewhat limit sugar, etc). So I'm really confused as to what happened. In retrospect, after learning about the different acne-fighting elements such as BP and BHA, I realize I used to put BHA on my skin 2x/day with the Neutrogena astringent and nighttime treatment. I'm really hoping that BHA is what my skin likes and needs to stay clear, but that it's just going to take a little bit of time to get there again, since BHA has basically been absent from my skin since August.

Oh, and I want to add that I implemented fish oil into my diet, cut down on peanuts (I eat a LOT of peanuts and a lot of natural, non-hydrogenated oil peanut butter), started taking acidophillus. My skin has not improved since these changes, so I'm not convinced that for me diet is a big contributor in my skin (EXCEPT dairy - that undoubtedly breaks me out). Plus, I've been a big peanut butter eater for years and never had any problems until recently. I've also stopped the compulsive whitehead squeezing habit.

Not surprisingly, I've been extremely depressed about this, avoiding as much interaction as possible, even looking down or away when people talk to me/when I talk to them. But within the past few days I'm really trying harder to be positive and I'm trying to look people in the eye even though I see them look at my messed up skin. It's hard, because most people I interact with I've known since before this happened, so they know me as having clear skin. For them to see me like this, when I know they're taking note of what's happened, is really hard. But I'm trying very hard to let myself and my personality show through in my interactions and not to let my appearance hinder who I am. I never realized before just how much weight I put on my clear skin. I go without eye makeup and with unbrushed hair all the time, and I don't think twice about it, just because my skin's always been so clear. That, I guess, was the most important thing to me. I'm trying to think positively, that this will eventually strengthen my self-esteem, maybe even help my anxiety issues. Because I know it will clear up. There IS a treatment for my skin (and everyone's), and I'm just really trying to believe that when it does improve, I'll be stronger for it.

Anyway, I knew this was going to be a long but it's turned into a novel, haha. Thanks to anyone who has read it, any comments/questions more than welcome and I totally feel all of you guys who are suffering from this crap. And to those of you who have been suffering from it for much longer than I, I just want to first tell you that your emotional and mental strength are absolutely praise-worthy and very admirable. I also want to say that before this happened, I almost NEVER noticed whether or not a person had acne when I looked at them. I truly, honestly, never ever looked at acne before (you better believe I scrutinize everyone's skin now, haha... I know that's counterproductive but lately it's on my mind every waking hour, and even in my dreams, so I can't help it), so I really just want you to know that people are NOT noticing it as much as you might think they are. I, too, am trying to keep this in mind.

I realize I could probably go on about this for a very, very long time, so I'll stop here. Thanks so much guys, I'm so happy this community is here, and please keep your heads up because this fight against acne WILL eventually be a memory.

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