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katie27

Severe Cystic Acne After Pregnancy And Birth

Hello all,

I'm totally new to all of this and just found this site and forum out of desperation. Reaching out in hopes anyone has some advice or similar experiences.

I have been pretty blessed most of my life with great skin until I got pregnant. While I was pregnant I had a few issues here and there, but it was totally manageable and not too bad at all. THEN, three weeks after I gave birth my skin freaked out. I very quickly broke out with numerous, huge cystic acne. It has been 8 months and I am still battling it. Over the 8 months, I have seen a few different doctors and dermatologists, as well as regularly visited a medical spa. I am still breastfeeding and I believe my acne to completely be a hormonal imbalance issue. I didn't have any other diet changes or life changes other than giving birth and breastfeeding, so I can only assume that is to blame for my problem. However, it's been somewhat of a battle trying to get help to figure out how to fix it.

Here are some of the things I have tried that have not worked:

-Erythormycin Base 250 mg

-Clindamycin Phosphate topical gel

- Adapalene topical gel

-Progesterone only birth control pill (Made it worse by spreading down my neck).

-Medical spa treatments: high frequency and red/blue light treatments (seem to help a little)

Last week, I finally found a doctor that agreed to do some lab work to see where my hormones are at. I am currently waiting for the results of the lab work, but in the meantime he wanted to send me to a different dermatologist for a second opinion. I saw that dermatologist today and he said that my case is considered rare and severe. He said he only sees acne like this a couple of times a year. His suggestion was to stop breastfeeding and go straight to getting on accutane.

I am ready to fix this problem and will definitely stop breastfeeding if that will help my hormones balance more. I feel a little bit weary going straight to accutane, especially considering that in the near future I hope to have another baby. If I stop breastfeeding, I may have other options available besides accutane. I am going back to my original dermatologist next week to discuss other options.

I'm feeling like it's hard to find someone to help me get to the root of the problem, which what I believe is a hormonal imbalance. I worry about taking accutane only to have this problem resurface because the root of the issue was never dealt with.

Just wondering if anyone has been through anything similar and if you have any advice or opinions regarding hormonal imbalance, accutane or other options. Thank you!

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The short answer is the the options for hormonal acne are limited and require some trial and error. And LOTS of patience. It took 8 months for my current treatment (spironolactone) to kick in. That's a long time to wait and be hopeful. If I hadn't waited I'd probably still have acne and be jumping around from treatment to treatment.

Yaz/Yasmin/BeYaz, Ortho Cyclen, Belara, and Dianette seem to be the only birth control pills that truly help stop acne. Anything else makes it worse. If you want birth control that just doesn't affect your skin either way, well you have condoms or the COPPER IUD (just the copper IUD, all of the other ones have hormones in them).

The only other prescriptions I would recommend is spironolactone. It's an androgen blocker that a lot of women (including me) have had success with. I take 100mg a day to stay clear. It's sort of a lifelong thing though, if I go off it, acne comes back.

You can also do some things with your diet and herbal supplements that modify your hormones in a positive manner. This lady wrote a very comphrenesive post about it in "bootcamp" style. It is pretty strict but based on my reading it follows all the principles correctly.

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The short answer is the the options for hormonal acne are limited and require some trial and error.

Thank you for your response! I will talk to my doctor about the birth control options suggested as well as the spironolactone.

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Hey, did you were you on birth control before you got pregnant? I mean did you stop to try for a baby? It may be that coming off birth control has caused a flare up on your acne, pregnancy maybe kept the acne any now you're no longer pregnant your hormones are out of balance. I know when I have come off the pill before that about 3 -6 months later my skin starts to flare up and I've always ended up going back on the pill, you're right that progestin pills will make your skin worse, try asking for one that is combined with oestrogen and progestin, there are pills that are more skin friendly than other. I've read that bad skin after pregnancy can be common, maybe trying a new skincare routine, have you tried salicylic or glycolic based products, I find having even just one in my regimen makes a difference, like a cleanser or a serum. I'm sure you will find something that works and you have your lovely baby to keep your mind off things until you do :)

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I highly recommend NOT stopping breastfeeding because of this. Breastfeeding is a million times healthier for your baby. Unless you're willing to buy organic infant formula (which still comes nowhere close to being as good for your baby as breast milk) which is a lot more money than regular formula, then your baby is going to be getting GMO's. Basically poison. Accutane is not going to fix your hormones. You hear some horror stories of acne coming back full force after accutane, well I think that's why. I think you are better off trying to balance your hormones. Try avoid products that have hormones in them like all dairy. Avoid stuff like soy that can mess with your hormones. Avoid sugar and caffeine. I avoid gluten. Make sure you are getting all the right vitamins. Take probiotics for gut health. A lot of women have luck taking Vitex. Maybe have your doctor check for postpartum thyroiditis. The homeopathic remedy Thyroid helped me some. I am a mother of 15 month old twins and this is happening to me and I am just now kind of figuring it out. I stopped breastfeeding at 5 months because of getting reoccurring breast infections and I really regret not doing everything to figure it out and continue breastfeeding. Once I stopped my acne got SO much worse too. Anyway... You haven't even got your hormone test back. Who knows. Maybe it's a really easy, obvious fix. It the doctor just wants to give you medication I would take the results to a naturopath and try to fix it naturally so the fix is safe and also permanent. No matter what, in time it will get better.

Edited by psychokitty

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I'm sorry to hear about your situation, katie27! I know how horrible it is having to deal with bad acne. I assume you must have been on birth control before your pregnancy? If you get back on it after you've stopped breastfeeding, it will most likely clear your skin again. You just have to find other solutions to deal with skin problems during pregnancy and breastfeeding that aren't necessarily as effective, but keep things sort of in control. I'm nursing now and started getting some acne a few months after birth (I also had moderate and stubborn acne before I got pregnant that had continued for years ever since I came off the pill, it all cleared during the pregnancy). Now I've managed to keep my inflamed acne in control with topical bp (to all acne-prone areas, bought from this website actually) and topical clindamycin (as a spot treatment). Then after I've stopped breastfeeding (which might be a while, as I plan to breastfeed long) I might go on the pill, or try spiro or accutane.

On a related note, does anyone have advice on what you can do about hormones WHILE still breastfeeding? Doesn't it mean that birth control pills are out of the question? I assume that herbs and spiro would be as well, right?

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Thank you everyone for your responses. Actually, before getting pregnant I had been off of birth control for almost three years. I didn't have any serious acne problems during that time. My acne showed up only a little bit during pregnancy, but full force after delivery.

I just recently added some salicylic based products into my skin routine, and I do think that I am finally seeing some improvement.

The only birth control pill that is allowed to be taken while breastfeeding is the progesterone only birth control pill - I did give that a try, and it made it considerably worse. I have been off of that pill for about a month now and I think my skin is finally clearing up a little bit. I am not sure about herbs that would be safe to help with hormones during breastfeeding, but from the research I did, I found that spiro is not okay to take while breastfeeding.

I'm anxiously awaiting my test results and I agree with you all that I may need to take my results to a naturopath. I definitely am interested in figuring this out permanently because I do hope to get pregnant again within the next year (yet another reason why I do not want to go the accutane route) and I would rather not be dealing with this issue for years.

I am also going to consider going dairy free as I have heard that as a suggestion before - maybe it's time to cut some more things out of my diet!

Thanks again for everyone's responses. I wish I would have found this forum a few months ago :)

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Katie27 Please let.Me.know.what has worked.for.you. I have the same.issue since pregnancy and am.Now 12 weeks.post.partum. I had to stop breastfeeding and go.on Doxycycline. It has only.been 3 days and I am.still.pumping but Dermatologist recommended to quit bf as.It.is hormonal. I really.don't want to stop but I cannot bf while taking doxy and also a.steroid. I am attaching a picture. It is also in my back. I am.misreable.

post-476584-0-98449800-1435689358_thumb.

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Katie27 Please let.Me.know.what has worked.for.you. I have the same.issue since pregnancy and am.Now 12 weeks.post.partum. I had to stop breastfeeding and go.on Doxycycline. It has only.been 3 days and I am.still.pumping but Dermatologist recommended to quit bf as.It.is hormonal. I really.don't want to stop but I cannot bf while taking doxy and also a.steroid. I am attaching a picture. It is also in my back. I am.misreable.

Sorry you are dealing with this. Can I ask why you stopped breastfeeding? If there's not medical reason to stop, then I would suggest you continue to breastfeed so that your baby receives all the colostrum it needs to build up a strong immune system and gut flora. However, if your doctor suspects an inflection and/or if you continue to take steroids & doxy, then it is best to stop breastfeeding, but only if there is a valid reason to do so (no, bf being hormonal is NOT a valid reason...it doesn't even make sense! Not breastfeedng could actually deprive your child of valuable nutrients,do some research on the importance of breast milk before you completely stop bf but yes, don't do it when you are on prescription medication).

Did your acne become this severe when starting doxycycline, or was it like this before it? To me, it looks far worse than hormonal acne - not to freak you out or anything but I want to be honest with you. I suggest you go to a different dermatologist and ask them to tell you what type of acne it is. To me, some of it seems like conglobata, which requires a stronger treatment and sometimes steroids actually make it worse. It could be an allergic reaction...it seems more than a hormonal rebound from giving birth. from the photo you attached, it looks like the acne is also on your neck & near the collarbone, which are not typical places for hormonal acne. Are you by any chance using any topicals, and also applying them to your neck area?

One more question, do you have facial hair?

Sorry for all the questions, I'm just trying to see if I can figure it out. I'm usually good at detecting what type of acne people have based on photos & symptoms.

PS. As the poster above says, the progesterone only pill is probably one of the worst for acne! Definitely not recommended, plus it's synthetic progesterone, which can be dangerously toxic.

Edited by WishClean

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Wishclean!! Sorry I am.just getting.this message. Please.email me.directly at [email protected] if.you.think.you can.help. I am desperate!! Let.me.clarify! I was diagnosed with cystic acne by a dermatologist but.she told.me.to.stop breastfeeding and take.doxy and wash with a gentle oil free.cleanser. I told.her.I would.wait.until at least.6 months just to.get.my.baby.on the right track but about 2 weeks after.seeing the dermatologist it started getting worse and I.had.to.go.to.the emerfency room. It was crazy itchy and seemed.to.be spreading. They told me.it was.cystic acne along with a staph or.strep infection but.NEVER took a culture. So now I.have been taking doxy oral 2 times daily for 2 weeks along with mupricin ointment on.my.face as well as betamethasone at night or itching. I have been pumping and dumping for 2 weeks. I am waiting 48 hours for it to be out of my.syststem and.am.going to resume.bf. I do know.the benefits of bf and the crap that is.in formula. Trust me, I.suffered 12 weeks like this just to feed my.baby and get.her on the right start!! But I was in agony and wanted to.rip my face off...My face is a little better but no where.near even being close.to.normal. I am 35 years old and.have NEVER had anything like.this, so.yes.this acne is def.hormone related. If you have any ideas.would love.to hear.them. In the meantime I am going to schedule a new Derm to see. Please.help. uncomfotable, itchy and desperate!!! Thank.you. J

I.looked.up conglubate acne and it.doest spear to be that as there are.no blackheads. I am told by 2 drs that it is cystic.acne.

post-476584-0-11718300-1436756726_thumb.

Edited by jeliptical22

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No I do not.have any facial.hair. I started breaking out during pregnancy on my cheeks and a little on my chin. I also broke.out bad on my back. Then when I gave birth and was breastfeeding it got really bad.

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No I do not.have any facial.hair. I started breaking out during pregnancy on my cheeks and a little on my chin. I also broke.out bad on my back. Then when I gave birth and was breastfeeding it got really bad.

Hey,

Your face looks better in the recent photo you posted - it seems like some of the big lumpy bumps have subsided.

If it's itchy, it's definitely infected! I would suggest getting a facial with extractions (either at a trustworthy dermatologist or a qualified esthetician) to get the infection under control. They might do some red & blue light treatments, along with high frequency, which will help with inflammation... No matter what they give you internally, if your skin is already infected (yes, it looks infected!) you have to also treat it on the surface level, which means getting it under control topically as well as internally.

I would also recommend a saliva/urine hormonal panel...those are the most accurate (unlike blood tests), and might give you an indication on which hormones are off...most likely, your pregnancy threw some hormones off whack, which is not uncommon, and usually hormonal imbalances resolve by themselves some months after pregnancy if you haven't had hormonal issues before, so please do not panic and be patient!

If you do get a hormonal panel done, post your results here and I might be able to make some more definite recommendations.

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it does look like it has calmed down a lot in your recent photo which is a good sign that the antibiotics and topical were helping. I don't know too much about the ingredients but is there anyway you can continue with the topicals and just stop the doxy? It will probably be the case that until you have stopped breast feeding there isn't much in the way of a test that they can do, even if they come back to show that your hormones are out of sync, they will just tell you to step breast feeding and if that's not something you want to do then it puts to back to square one. I know it is a difficult position to be in but it looks like you have to decide between putting up with the acne and trying to find topicals, which are safe to use when b feeding and will help with the itching/inflammation, or stopping breast feeding early to stay on a longer course of antibiotics or a different bcp or seeing if your acne calms down on its own when your stop breast feeding. I agree with wishclean, it does sound like there may be an infection going on as well as it seems quite a severe breakout considering acne hasn't been a problem for you in the past however hormonal acne can also be aggressive as well. A topical anti biotic might help, although again im not too sue on the impact when your nursing. I hope everything works out, and you are clearly a great mum, putting your baby's health first, even when your dealing with this painful breakout. This new dermatologist might have a different take on things and a way forward.

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Hello.thank.you both for.responding. I am getting blood work done to test hormonal levels. I also tried the bactriban antibiotic oinment. I will look into the facial and.laser stuff but can't really.afford that right now. Yes, I want to get my.baby off to.the right start but.I.have suffered.immensely.. I will keep you posted!!! Thanks..

Either way I am.def scared and will need to do laser once inflamation and cysts are gone. Also, the derm mentioned I.may need to take accutane in.the future. And she told me to stop breastfeeding bc it won't get better. It's a hard choice. I haunt.found any formulas without.gmos so I will just suffer for a little while longer.

Edited by jeliptical22

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Hello.thank.you both for.responding. I am getting blood work done to test hormonal levels. I also tried the bactriban antibiotic oinment. I will look into the facial and.laser stuff but can't really.afford that right now. Yes, I want to get my.baby off to.the right start but.I.have suffered.immensely.. I will keep you posted!!! Thanks..

Either way I am.def scared and will need to do laser once inflamation and cysts are gone. Also, the derm mentioned I.may need to take accutane in.the future. And she told me to stop breastfeeding bc it won't get better. It's a hard choice. I haunt.found any formulas without.gmos so I will just suffer for a little while longer.

Blood work might show that your hormone levels are in the "normal" range, so don't put too much faith in blood work. The most accurate way to test your hormone levels is through saliva or urine testing. Of course, if some hormones are way off, then blood tests will most likely catch the imbalance...but if they come back normal, then try to do one of the other 2 hormonal tests.

Accutane is what doctors prescribe when they have no idea why the **** you have acne. It's a shot in the dark, and should not be taken especially if you have other issues to figure out. Many women with hormonal issues end up taking accutane only for the acne to return because, guess what, accutane only makes hormonal issues worse...it just masks the warning sign (the acne) that there's something wrong internally.

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Hey girl, did you ever find out what your hormone levels were?? Hope things are getting better for you!

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During a normal cycle, progesterone production is 20 mg/day during the latter half of the cycle.  During pregnancy, progesterone levels slowly ramp up to 400 mg/day during one day of third trimester pregnancy.  After pregnancy and during lactation, progesterone levels are ZERO.  If you have no period and no ovulation and no corpus luteum, progesterone levels drop to zero.  The lack of progesterone when you are breast feeding and having no cycle is likely causing an out break of the acne. The answer to to question is to take progesterone and eliminate xenostrogens.

There is no progesterone to balance out your xenoestrogen intake after pregnancy and not having a cycle.  This is why you are now having an acne break out.

Xenestrogens are chemicals and herbs that mimic estrogen.  They do NOT show up on the hormone test.  They look like estrogen to the body.  

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