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Cillian Cillan

24 Year Old Female, Dealing With Sudden Onset Of Adult Acne

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Hello all,

I've been stalking about the acne.org message boards for a while, but I finally decided I ought to post about myself and see if anyone here can give me some advice.

As the title implies, I'm 24 and female. I struggled with acne for most of my teen years - it started around age 12 and didn't lessen up until after high school. I had breakouts during college, but nothing too serious, just a few pimples here and there. Things started to get a little more serious a few months before my 22nd birthday, though, so I decided to start using ProActiv. I had decent results with it, but I would still break out in minor areas occasionally - still, by the time I'd been on it for about two years, I had seen definite improvements save for a few areas of hyperpigmentation.

I wasn't breaking out anymore, though, and I was also going through some financial hardship so I decided to cancel my subscription and tried to revert to using an over-the-counter cleanser twice a day. I started out with Neutrogena's Acne Stress Control (the green liquid version) and for about two weeks, it seemed to be fine... then, I began breaking out around my mouth. It was just some minor pimples at first, but throughout this past January (when it started up), it began to look progressively worse. Suddenly, my forehead had completely broken out as well, in a way that I hadn't seen since 9th grade or so. None of these pimples would go away, and they all seemed to be deep below the surface. They would break open a bit and start to drain, but then just reform in the same places. My whole face, save for small areas on my cheeks and my nose, was suddenly covered in angry red pimples that seemed to be there to stay.

I went to a dermatologist last month - over five weeks ago now - and explained the situation, but the doctor only spent about 30 seconds talking with me before writing me a prescription for doxycycline and tretinoin cream; he said that these breakouts were hormonal and that I should wait two months before seeing him again. Now, I've been taking 200mg of doxycycline every day for five weeks and have just this week worked my way up to using the tretinoin cream every night at bedtime. I also have been using Purpose facial cleanser twice a day (morning and night). I have had fewer cysts, but by and large my skin looks about the same or maybe slightly worse than it did before I went to see the dermatologist. My forehead looks a bit better, but is far from completely healed. My cheeks have broken out in a way that they hadn't until I started using the tretinoin (which I do understand is part of the healing process). The pimples I have/am getting now are much smaller and less painful than they were in January, but I still appear to be having new breakouts, not to mention that I have a MUCH worse hyperpigmentation problem than before. At several points throughout the last weeks, it looked like I was seeing an improvement, but those days were usually followed by a sudden turn for the worse.

Anyway, I was wondering if any of you have had similar experiences and can offer me some pointers here. Should I keep on this regimen of doxy and tretinoin? Does it sound like it could actually be working? Or should I go back to ProActiv or maybe some other form of BP, since my skin did respond really well when I was using it? Also, I have had some trouble with finding a good makeup/concealer that won't exacerbate my acne (and doesn't contain salicylic acid, which counteracts with tretinoin). Any suggestions? This is (obviously) really bumming me out and I want to make sure I'm doing all that I can to help myself get through this as quickly as possible.


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hello, the same thing happened to me. i started with hormonal and stress related acne at 12, and up until a year ago prescription and over the counter medications we're able to clear up my acne. I am now 26 and all of a sudden my whole face is oily (not just t zone) i broke out on one cheek, then the other, all along my jawline with bumps that are extremely sensitive, and a few bumps on my forehead. nothing id tried before was working. i went to a new derm because i couldnt take it anymore, and no make will hide the huge bumps. she put me on claravis (accutane). ive only been on it for a week, but the bumps are subsiding. I don't like the flakiness around my mouth and chin and extreme dry lips, but if this clears of my face for good like others have posted on here, im positive it will work on me.

i did inherit bad skin from both my mom and dad's families, but i was hoping it wouldnt be an issue with me. my mom has oily and sensitive skin, my dad has cystic acne in the family... so i got royally screwed. and also ive heard that with aging this may be why my genetics are barely catching up with me. my dad, uncle, and cousin have really crater like scars, i think mostly because they never had gotten diagnosed with this type of acne, and i really want to try to prevent that type of scarring on my face.

with my insurance im paying $50 a month, unless she ups my dosage, it might go up to $100. but its only for a few months and the testimonies i have seen on here, i think it is well worth it as opposed to a quick fix.

hope this helps!

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My doc tried doxy on me and it wasn't working at all. I called her and she switched it to minocycline which gave me results within 2 days. The opposite is true for my daughter. Mino did nothing for her, doxy worked well. I'd call and ask to get your antibiotic changed. Also, my daughter likes differin. Have you tried that? Are you using benzoyl peroxide? (I would research accutane and give it serious thought before going that route. I consider it a highly dangerous drug that should only be used for the most severe cases of acne).

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Hey, I can't really help you with regard to prescriptions and whatnot, and I don't use any topicals (I'm currently going gluten- and dairy-free, juicing, and exercising daily and I've noticed improvement in my acne in less than week). I took the generic Accutane when I was 15/16, and I'm 22 now. Didn't work for me, obviously.

I do have a make-up suggestion. I use Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Loose Powder. It doesn't completely cover up all the acne, but it blends very well and significantly reduces the hyperpigmentation. Your skin will look a lot clearer, and it doesn't even look like you're wearing make-up (unlike with pasty foundations). I also haven't noticed any correlation between using it (I use it almost every day) and additional breakouts, as long as I wash it off with water before bed. The only drawback is that if you're kissing a guy pretty ferociously, it might come off around the mouth/chin area. LOL. But I guess that's how it is with any make-up.

Good luck. :) I know acne sucks major balls sometimes.

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I am also on a retinoid - Atralin and Aczone (a cream to help with inflammation). It is to be expected that your acne will worsen within the first weeks/months of treatment as the retinoid will bring everything to the surface. The antibiotic is supposed to keep your breakouts in check but remember they have side effects (like disturbing the bacteria in your body) so don't take them too long as they only mask your acne versus fixing the cause. Don't get discouraged by breakouts.

I actually put in my head a time frame of 3 months and i am preparing myself to breakout until then (though by that point breakouts should be getting smaller and more infrequent).

As the previous poster stated, it wouldn't hurt to probably reevaluate your diet as topicals don't FIX anything, only mask it. If you do want to try to tweak diet, a lot of people start with giving up dairy first (its actually not as bad as it sounds) - gluten seems to be a close second. In any event, give it time and stay positive.

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Hi all,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I guess I'll try powering through it. I'm going back to the dermatologist in two weeks; I'll definitely talk to the doctor about either changing my antibiotic or maybe not taking it anymore, depending on his thoughts. I'll also give the Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Loose Powder a try.

The one thing I am curious about is the dietary correlation here... since I was a teenager, every doctor I've ever seen has told me that diet does not significantly correlate with more or less acne. I already eat a pretty minimal amount of dairy because of a mild lactose intolerance; I get regular exercise in the form of bike rides and walks (usually factoring out to between 1.5-2 hours of exercise each day). I drink around 100 oz. of water a day, eat at least 3 servings of fruit, and probably 3-5 servings of vegetables daily, too - this is the exact same diet I've had for the majority of my adult life (about five years or so) and for most of that time, my skin was practically clear compared to how it looks now. Any further thoughts on that?

- CB

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