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14 Weeks Of Tretinoin. No Improvement. (Pictures Included)

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Hi everyone and thanks for taking your time to read this.

I've been on Tretinoin for 14 weeks now. I stared on 0.01% gel and a month ago got upped to 0.025% gel. I am STILL getting painful breakouts. I have been getting red pimples everywhere and a few deep red pimples. There's this one next to my eyebrow that is so red and painful. I tried to pop it but nope. Didn't work. I also have a deep red pimple near my jawline/chin and a few red spots near that big pimple. What is wrong? Am I doing something wrong? I've also noticed my skin is now getting oily throughout the day. After I wash it, it's super dry. But when I apply my moisturizer it gets oily during the day. When I wash my face at night and wait that 30 minutes to apply the Tretinoin my face is SUPER dry. But then when I apply my Tretinoin, a few hours later I'm oily. I'm getting sick of breaking out. I mean, it's been 14 weeks and no improvement. I thought I was seeing improvement then I broke out all of a sudden. I have at least 9 pimples on my face that are very red. 2 of those are EXTREMELY big and red. I've had acne since I was 10/11 years old and I'm 16 now. Something isn't right. On the side of my face that appears to be clear isn't. There are a few small red zits near my mouth/jawline like on the other side. You can also tell how red my face has gotten from the Tretinoin.

My questions are:

Am I doing something wrong?

How much longer should I continue with my Tretinoin?

Is there a better face wash that I could be using?

Thanks everyone.

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Do you have any photos from before trying tretinoin? Tretinoin by itself can make you break-out initially, and these flare-ups can last quite a long time. However, 14 weeks seems like a rather long time to still be dealing with an IB. Have you seen significant improvement? If your breakouts are very inflammed or painful, you may need an oral antibiotic in addition to the tretinoin. Additionally, you might try using something with BP in the morning, and tretinoin at night. Tretinoin becomes very unstable when exposed to any level of light (even indoor light) so it is useless in the daytime anyway. What is your regimin for applying the tretinoin? The method you use for applying it is actually very important. To apply tretinoin (or any retinoid) the correct way you must:

1. Wait AT LEAST 20 minutes after washing your face to apply tretinoin.

2. Apply a pea-size amount (my rule of thumb is about the size of the tip of my pinky finger) to cover your whole face and neck.

3. Wait another 10 minutes or so before applying moisturizer

4. Go to bed, or at least turn off your lights. Any level of light significantly reduces tretinoin's efficacy

Adding a BP and an oral antibiotic to your regimen (if you are ok with antibiotics) might help speed things along.

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Do you have any photos from before trying tretinoin? Tretinoin by itself can make you break-out initially, and these flare-ups can last quite a long time. However, 14 weeks seems like a rather long time to still be dealing with an IB. Have you seen significant improvement? If your breakouts are very inflammed or painful, you may need an oral antibiotic in addition to the tretinoin. Additionally, you might try using something with BP in the morning, and tretinoin at night. Tretinoin becomes very unstable when exposed to any level of light (even indoor light) so it is useless in the daytime anyway. What is your regimin for applying the tretinoin? The method you use for applying it is actually very important. To apply tretinoin (or any retinoid) the correct way you must:

1. Wait AT LEAST 20 minutes after washing your face to apply tretinoin.

2. Apply a pea-size amount (my rule of thumb is about the size of the tip of my pinky finger) to cover your whole face and neck.

3. Wait another 10 minutes or so before applying moisturizer

4. Go to bed, or at least turn off your lights. Any level of light significantly reduces tretinoin's efficacy

Adding a BP and an oral antibiotic to your regimen (if you are ok with antibiotics) might help speed things along.

Thank you so much for replying. No, I don't have any photos from before. My face has gotten a little worse then before when I started using Tretinoin.

My regimen is:

Wash with Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Apply FirstAid Beauty Repair Cream

Use 10% BP as a spot treatment on pimples

At night:

Wash with Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Wait 30 minutes

Apply a thin layer (a pea-sized amount) all over face

No moisturizer

I am however switching my face wash to The Body Shop Tea tree oil cleanser maybe, as the Neutrogena one isn't working.

I have seen improvement, but when I think I'm finally clearing up I break out with 10 zits.

Edited by Leoine
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I would suggest switching to a mild cleanser, like cetaphil. What many people don't know about cetaphil is it works very well to take off make-up, even water proof makeup. The trick is to apply a few pumps to a damp wash cloth or paper towel, and run it very gently over your face like a makeup removing wipe. Then follow-up with a normal face wash. This is a good method for mild exfoliation as well. Just be gentle!

Bp is not a very useful as spot treatment, unfortunately. I recommend applying it like you do the tretinoin (but only a small, pea-size amount) all over your face. Also, you need to put the BP on your face before you put on any kind of moisturizer or make-up.

Have you seen your dermatologist since you started tretinoin?

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My doctor has been prescribing me this. I went to a dermatologist once back before the summer of 8th grade.

When I went to my doctor about a month back she said it looked like I was making progress and that she would up my dosage. She said she didn't have a doubt that I wouldn't be clear. But here we are at the 14 week mark and still nothing. My insurance now doesn't cover a dermatologist visit and we are tight on money due to medical bills, so I can't just go. Even if I could, my mom's work is strict about taking off and she wouldn't be able to take me.

Edited by Leoine
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My sons were on Retin A for nearly a year and never saw much improvement. Their dr. kept increasing the strength every few months so they kept hanging in there with it, but it was never much good. They still had red inflamed pimples and they had a lot of under the skin bumps that never went away. Also, their skin looked irritated most of the time.

Even clinical studies show only something like a 50% improvement of acne with most retinoids, so I would not stay on it if you are still breaking out after 14 weeks. My sons are doing much better with BP because it prevents most pimples, something the retinoid never did.

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My sons were on Retin A for nearly a year and never saw much improvement. Their dr. kept increasing the strength every few months so they kept hanging in there with it, but it was never much good. They still had red inflamed pimples and they had a lot of under the skin bumps that never went away. Also, their skin looked irritated most of the time.

Even clinical studies show only something like a 50% improvement of acne with most retinoids, so I would not stay on it if you are still breaking out after 14 weeks. My sons are doing much better with BP because it prevents most pimples, something the retinoid never did.

I've tried using BP prescribed by my doctor and nothing happened. I also paired it with Clindaminycin (spelling?). I've also tried using it on its own and I just got super dry.

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Did the same thing to my skin when I started using it. I eventually had to take minocycline with it to get the breakouts under control. Now, accutane.

I would say you should consider different options because it has been so long and you typically should see results in 8 weeks or so. The first time I used Retin-A I saw results in only 3-4 weeks.

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My sons were on Retin A for nearly a year and never saw much improvement. Their dr. kept increasing the strength every few months so they kept hanging in there with it, but it was never much good. They still had red inflamed pimples and they had a lot of under the skin bumps that never went away. Also, their skin looked irritated most of the time.

Even clinical studies show only something like a 50% improvement of acne with most retinoids, so I would not stay on it if you are still breaking out after 14 weeks. My sons are doing much better with BP because it prevents most pimples, something the retinoid never did.

I've tried using BP prescribed by my doctor and nothing happened. I also paired it with Clindaminycin (spelling?). I've also tried using it on its own and I just got super dry.

You'll probably wind up going with the oral antibiotics route, birth control, Spiro, and/or Accutane.

Edited by Michelle Reece
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Tretinion is a great product, but you have to use it correctly to get results.

My Story:

I used it for a long time, because my doctor prescribed it to me with Clindamycin. It got me so clear! At that time, I followed the directions precisely. But when I came off of it, I broke out again. :( I'm sure that it was because I quit cold turkey, instead of slowly reducing the dosage, the way you always should when you stop using an acne product .Then, my doctor put me back on it. The second time, I didn't use it correctly for a long time, and that's why I wasn't getting any results. Thing is, by then I was so discouraged, that I stopped using it. Plus I was getting bad side effects from the Clindamycin, so I had to quit. I would really love to go back on it because of the amazing results it gave me.

The Solution:

I did some research my second time on the Retin-A because I wasn't getting any results. I stumbled upon this website, where it tells you how to do it right: [Edited link out] Also, the box has the precise directions in it that tell you how to do it right. You can't use too high of a dosage, too much of it, too often, on damp skin, with no moisturizer, and with no sunscreen. You should not be using an acne face wash, but something more mild and non-medicated. You have to wait 15-30 minutes after washing your face before putting it on. You should not have any moisture when you put it on at night. So, no moisturizer, water on the face, etc. That is absolutely essentially important, because it just doesn't work when it comes in contact with moisture. Also, you should not be using any other acne products with it, so that means no 10% benyzol peroxide spot treatment. You have to use non-medicated face wash and day moisturizer.

To Sum it Up:

You have to

-wait 15-30 minutes after washing your face to put it on

-use ONLY a pea size amount

-use sunscreen during the day

-use moisturizer at daytime

-use ONLY mild and non-medicated face wash

You can't

-use other treatments while on the tretinoin

-get moisture on it

This webite can help you with any other questions you might have: [Edited link out]

Hope I helped :)

Remember that it works only if you follow the directions precisely, and in at least a month, if not more. Most people get good results by month 4.

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On 2/20/2014 at 12:13 PM, cupcakejess said:

Tretinion is a great product, but you have to use it correctly to get results.

My Story:

I used it for a long time, because my doctor prescribed it to me with Clindamycin. It got me so clear! At that time, I followed the directions precisely. But when I came off of it, I broke out again. I'm sure that it was because I quit cold turkey, instead of slowly reducing the dosage, the way you always should when you stop using an acne product .Then, my doctor put me back on it. The second time, I didn't use it correctly for a long time, and that's why I wasn't getting any results. Thing is, by then I was so discouraged, that I stopped using it. Plus I was getting bad side effects from the Clindamycin, so I had to quit. I would really love to go back on it because of the amazing results it gave me.

The Solution:

I did some research my second time on the Retin-A because I wasn't getting any results. I stumbled upon this website, where it tells you how to do it right: [Edited link out] Also, the box has the precise directions in it that tell you how to do it right. You can't use too high of a dosage, too much of it, too often, on damp skin, with no moisturizer, and with no sunscreen. You should not be using an acne face wash, but something more mild and non-medicated. You have to wait 15-30 minutes after washing your face before putting it on. You should not have any moisture when you put it on at night. So, no moisturizer, water on the face, etc. That is absolutely essentially important, because it just doesn't work when it comes in contact with moisture. Also, you should not be using any other acne products with it, so that means no 10% benyzol peroxide spot treatment. You have to use non-medicated face wash and day moisturizer.

To Sum it Up:

You have to

-wait 15-30 minutes after washing your face to put it on

-use ONLY a pea size amount

-use sunscreen during the day

-use moisturizer at daytime

-use ONLY mild and non-medicated face wash

You can't

-use other treatments while on the tretinoin

-get moisture on it

This webite can help you with any other questions you might have: [Edited link out]

Hope I helped

Remember that it works only if you follow the directions precisely, and in at least a month, if not more. Most people get good results by month 4.

I have been following the directions for 14 weeks. lol All I do at night is wash, wait 30 minutes, then apply the Tretinoin. My doctor told me to have a face wash with 2% Salicylic Acid in it, and I just recently (last night) switched to the Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Wash with .5% Salicylic Acid in it because I felt like the Neutrogena was too harsh for me. She also said to use Benzoyl Peroxide during the day. I'm just getting sick of trying this damn Tretinoin. I mean, 14 weeks? That's insane!

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Did the same thing to my skin when I started using it. I eventually had to take minocycline with it to get the breakouts under control. Now, accutane.

I would say you should consider different options because it has been so long and you typically should see results in 8 weeks or so. The first time I used Retin-A I saw results in only 3-4 weeks.

I took over 3 bottles of Minocycline total. It's not an option obviously. Either is Accutane because my mom doesn't want me on it. Plus, we can't afford a dermatologist and I don't think my doctor is capable of prescribing Accutane. I'm just hating my face. I haven't gone anywhere in over 2 weeks because of my face. It's just getting worse and I keep waking up with new whiteheads!

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UPDATE

My dad called the doctor's office today and told them how I have been on Tretinoin for 14 weeks. They are referring me to a dermatologist and I guess our insurance DOES cover that. Thank god because I was sick of going to the doctor for my face. It's like she didn't know what she was really doing with my face. I wonder what they're prescribe and how long it'll take to get in. The one time I went it was pretty quick. I guess I'll know tomorrow.

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So happy to hear you are going to see a Derm and it will be covered. Speak up, be your own advocate, ask for help and hopefully get on the right track to a treatment. If you think this has anything to do with hormones I would look into Spiro as many of the other girls have mentioned. It has helped stop all cystic acne for me and just need to finish clearing all those lovely clogged pores from my IB 3-5 weeks in.

UPDATE

My dad called the doctor's office today and told them how I have been on Tretinoin for 14 weeks. They are referring me to a dermatologist and I guess our insurance DOES cover that. Thank god because I was sick of going to the doctor for my face. It's like she didn't know what she was really doing with my face. I wonder what they're prescribe and how long it'll take to get in. The one time I went it was pretty quick. I guess I'll know tomorrow.

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So happy to hear you are going to see a Derm and it will be covered. Speak up, be your own advocate, ask for help and hopefully get on the right track to a treatment. If you think this has anything to do with hormones I would look into Spiro as many of the other girls have mentioned. It has helped stop all cystic acne for me and just need to finish clearing all those lovely clogged pores from my IB 3-5 weeks in.

UPDATE

My dad called the doctor's office today and told them how I have been on Tretinoin for 14 weeks. They are referring me to a dermatologist and I guess our insurance DOES cover that. Thank god because I was sick of going to the doctor for my face. It's like she didn't know what she was really doing with my face. I wonder what they're prescribe and how long it'll take to get in. The one time I went it was pretty quick. I guess I'll know tomorrow.

I do think some of it might be hormonal. I was completely clear then about 2 months after taking the Depo-Provera shot, I broke out so bad. I think the shot messed with my hormones. I've been on it for nearly 2 years so I have to get off of it and start taking a birth control pill now anyway. Thanks for some support by the way. It means a lot.

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I have an appointment for the dermatologist on April 10th and I just broke down crying. I don't want to be on Tretinoin for another 2 and a half months! My doctor won't let me off of it until I see the dermatologist. Great. I'm so done with this shit.

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I have an appointment for the dermatologist on April 10th and I just broke down crying. I don't want to be on Tretinoin for another 2 and a half months! My doctor won't let me off of it until I see the dermatologist. Great. I'm so done with this shit.

Blegh. I hate having to wait for a specialist too. I had that kind of problem before, but for a different medical reason. I still had to see a GP even though it was in my medical history!

On the bright side, at least it's only 2.5 months and your acne could be a lot worse. I've heard stories where people with severe acne had to wait 6 months! (Most of the stories were in Canada).

Okay, that might've not been the best picker-upper, but just hang in there! Know at least there are several here supporting you!

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It won't let me quote you for some odd reason.

I could have gotten in earlier in a different place but my insuracne wouldn't cover it. I wonder what they'll prescribe me. Hopefully NOT Minocycline! I just hate the fact that I have to keep putting Tretinoin on my face even when it isn't working. I'm actually going to add jojoba oil into my regimen since it's just ruining my face. I appreciate all the support I can get. It's been a long journey.

Edited by Leoine
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You mention wanting to get on BC right away. Do you think you can get your GP to prescibe you Dianette, Yaz or Yasmin until your derm appt in April? They have been used to treat acne and might be something to help.

I have an appointment for the dermatologist on April 10th and I just broke down crying. I don't want to be on Tretinoin for another 2 and a half months! My doctor won't let me off of it until I see the dermatologist. Great. I'm so done with this shit.

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You mention wanting to get on BC right away. Do you think you can get your GP to prescibe you Dianette, Yaz or Yasmin until your derm appt in April? They have been used to treat acne and might be something to help.

I have an appointment for the dermatologist on April 10th and I just broke down crying. I don't want to be on Tretinoin for another 2 and a half months! My doctor won't let me off of it until I see the dermatologist. Great. I'm so done with this shit.

I have an appointment to get my next shot on April 17th, but am planning to switch to BC. I can't switch my appointment because of the time frame of he shot and all that. I'm afraid to go on those because my mom's step sister died from a blood clot and those ones can cause that. Have you heard anything about Ortho-Tri-Cyclen? My doctor isn't open to suggestions. She gives me what she thinks is right. Which is why I am BEGGING my mom for a different doctor..

I feel like I should add this: I am going to start taking Multi Vitamin for her from Nature Made because I don't get enough vitamins/minerals. I do try eating healthy everyday it's just I don't get enough.

Edited by Leoine
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@ Leoine the tretinoin you use is it in cream form or gel form? if cream form, kindly change to the gel. It works better for severe acne.

Also please stop the BP 10% for now and use only the tretinoin at night for 2 weeks and look out for any improvements. In the a.m just wash your face and moisturize only and at p.m wash, wait 30 minutes and apply the gel form of tretinoin. This worked for me and i hope it does same for you. For severe acne, my derm told me that less is more.

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You mention wanting to get on BC right away. Do you think you can get your GP to prescibe you Dianette, Yaz or Yasmin until your derm appt in April? They have been used to treat acne and might be something to help.

I have an appointment for the dermatologist on April 10th and I just broke down crying. I don't want to be on Tretinoin for another 2 and a half months! My doctor won't let me off of it until I see the dermatologist. Great. I'm so done with this shit.

No. She isn't someone who would do that. She wants a full exam to get a birth control pill to see which is right for me.

@ Leoine the tretinoin you use is it in cream form or gel form? if cream form, kindly change to the gel. It works better for severe acne.

Also please stop the BP 10% for now and use only the tretinoin at night for 2 weeks and look out for any improvements. In the a.m just wash your face and moisturize only and at p.m wash, wait 30 minutes and apply the gel form of tretinoin. This worked for me and i hope it does same for you. For severe acne, my derm told me that less is more.

I've been using the gel for the whole time I have been on it. I was told to use BP during the day. I already tried stopping the BP and it seemed to get worse or little to no improvement. I have been waiting 30 minutes to apply it as well and have been using a pea-sized amount. So I know I'm doing everything right.

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Week probably 15 update:

My face looks horrible. I don't get acne on my cheeks anymore. Maybe one pimple every often. My chin/mouth area and my forehead is the MAIN problem. Literally, I have like 4 zits on my forehead and maybe like 6 small red bumps that are going to turn inflamed and gross on my chin/mouth region. I also have a few in my eyebrows. Like what? They hurt so bad! I don't know what's causing me to breakout in these areas. I clean my makeup brushes every time when I use them and make sure ALL of my makeup is off. I even went on a 2 week no makeup binge and my skin got worse. I know it isn't the makeup because I've worn it before when I didn't have breakouts as bad as I do now. These chin pimples are gonna drive me crazy. Can April 10th come already? I made my decision and want Accutane. My mom isn't saying no, so I'm taking that as she is finally letting me go on. Ugh. I can feel this pimple on my chin slowly growing into a monster!

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I started Veltin (Tretinoin+Clindamycin) about 6.5 months ago. I was in the thick of the IB by week 4- it. was. horrible. I still have scarring from it. I don't think that it began to calm down until ~week 17-19. However, you may not take this long to get through the IB. What I have noticed is that the tretinoin can purge in stages by area of the face- I broke out pretty much every where at first, but the majority of the IB occurred on my cheeks (where I rarely got breakouts). Once that stopped, I had about a 4-6 week lapse where things calmed now, but now my chin, mouth area, and forehead are purging. I started Spiro and doxy just a week ago, hoping that will improve my situation. So don't give up on the Veltin quite yet, but if you're still experiencing a lot of purging by the time of your derm appointment, I would seek other treatment. I would advise looking into Spiro if you think your acne is more hormonal, it's less severe and has fewer side effects than the Accutane.

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