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I started having acne when I was 13, but it was exclusively on my forehead. I tried a lot of products until I started taking Proactive, and for the last five years, it's kept my skin almost perfectly clear.
I started going to college and halfway through the semester my mom wanted me to try the Neutrogena oil free wash with salycyclic acid. It kept my acne under control pretty well, but it did break me out a bit more than usual (I just thought it was mostly stress) especially around the time of the month. 
Sooo here's where the nightmare began.
I got back home around mid-May, and almost overnight, I started breaking out a ton. For the first time, I got cystic acne. I went from having mostly no cheek pimples to cystic pimples near my jaw everywhere! Suddenly, Neutrogena didn't seem to work anymore as it just kept on irritating my skin and making it redder. It even hurt to shower and touch! So then became my downward spiral about my face and my self esteem. Whenever I had free time, I was looking up all the different acne solutions on the internet (when i look back, the blue links are now all purple because I've looked at ALL of them). Birth control came up a few times but I was always hesitant because acne.org scared the crap out of me for the side effects (mood swings, headaches, further breakouts, etc). But on one day, I finally caved in and went to my doctor because I couldn't look at my face anymore. She prescribed me clindamycin/benozyl peroxide and a birth control pill (Trinessa). But I had to wait at least two weeks before I could have my period. The antibiotic worked for a little bit, but it burned my skin so much that the redness made it seem that my face was WORSE! This was probably one of the worst few weeks of my life, just considering back and forth if I wanted to take the pill. But finally I did.
The first two weeks, my acne improved significantly. I don't know what happened. It was just like suddenly and miraculously, my redness all came down and there were way less small bumps coming up (with no cystic acne). This happened maybe three/four weeks after my huge initial break out. Acne got a bit worse before my period a week later, but beginning the second month it continued clearing up! (I stopped my antibiotic beginning of my second month to stop the redness). I stopped Neutrogena and went back to Proactive, and now my forehead has been clear for at least two weeks (maybe lower stress from no school and worrying about my crappier appearance before?)
 
I just started my 3rd month a few days ago, and I can say besides some scarring, I can be presentable when I go back to college! (There are some pimples by my left temple and upper left cheek mostly, one pimple on my right cheek, and nothing on my forehead). I'm just curious, though, for any input. Do you think my acne may have gotten better by itself before the birth control kicked in, because it happened so quickly? I'm just nervous and scared when I go off the pill someday (hopefully 3-6 months, probably over the summer so my friends won't see the worst!) and cystic acne comes back (even though the first time it came was this summer.) My research really made me freak out that I might have PCOS or that I have a permanent hormonal imbalance at 20. But my periods have been more or less constant, 12 times a year and all. I'm also just trying to piece together if there was a root of my cystic acne breakout (stress from school? Diet? My diet did change heavily when I came home. Immediately, I ate at least 4 gogurts, tons of carbs, spicy/greasy foods way different from my relatively healthy diet in college.) What do you guys think? 

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hey, did you ever go off the birth control? I recently got it prescribed but I'm scared of taking it because i read reviews of people saying their acne got worse! 

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