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crimson_tiara

Azelaic acid - clear after 10+yrs of acne

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Hi everyone,

I am a long time lurker and one time poster. I’ve so badly wanted to share my success story on here for years but things usually deteriorate right before I can. I feel like I have finally stumbled across the combination of things that are keeping me clear and I really hope it will help someone else.

This is going to be big but I’ve broken it into chunks so you can jump to the info that interests you J

Background:I started getting acne in seventh grade. My acne was pretty typical at this stage and I think was mostly due to hormones and my insanely oily skin (I so hope it helps me age well…)

Things changed when I moved to Australia at 16yrs. I began to get closed comedones all over my forehead and deep, cystic bumps on my chin. My skin was pretty resilient so I could poke and prod them and any sign would be gone in roughly a week. Sadly my skin kept getting worse and worse as I got older. I got to a stage at university where I consistently had some sort of sore, deep spot on my upper lip or chin. I can count on one hand the number of times my face has been clear of acne in the last 10+ yrs.

What I’ve tried (topically):We all say it don’t we? EVERYTHING. Glycolic peels. Extraction facials. Spa brands. Drugstore brands (Neutrogena, avene, clean and clear, Clearasil, proactiv etc.). Scrubs. Brushes. Aspirin. Lemon Juice. Clay. Essential Oils. ACV. Caveman. Wash once a day. No SLS. BHA (Paula’s Choice). Lactic acid. Religiously going through the ingredients of any makeup or skincare product I use to look for comedogenic ingredients. Oil cleansing. Hemp oil for a moisturiser. Sea salt facial baths. Steaming. DIY.

Benzoyl Peroxide (acne.org regimen):This got me roughly 85% clear but as you can see from the photos I had constant red skin that stopped at the neckline. I always looked sunburnt. I also had cyclical comedones pop up around my period. They would come to the surface and inflame between periods. I would be stoked that they were gone and my skin was smooth only to have new ones pop up during my period week. I also think the over use of BP caused broken capillaries on my face and petechia that (thankfully) always went away after 2-3 days but that was frightening! I also think using BP on my cheeks caused a vicious cycle of keeping them mostly clear of smaller bumps but also causing deep cystic acne that has left me with shallow scarring. I don’t regret using it because it got me as close as I could to clear skin for ~3yrs but I would say use with caution.

Internally:I truly believe part of the acne picture is the internal system (especially the gut) so I have tried a lot here as well. ACV. Spearmint tea. Rooibos tea. Detox tea. Vitamin E. Magnesium. Iron. Vitamin C. Zinc. B-complex. Digestive enzymes. Gelatin. Bone Broth. Vegetarian diet. No dairy. No caffeine. Gluten free. Soy-free. Low carb. Paleo. Vegan. Green juicing. Sugar free. Aloe vera juice. Chlorophyll. Probiotic. Antibiotics. Reishi. BCP. Stopping BCP. Autoimmune Protocol.

Derm:I went to one when I was maybe 24/25 and he looked at my skin for 2mins and gave me a prescription for Roaccutane. I told him I had a tendency towards depression which he dismissed and proceeded with the scripts. I sat in my car and cried. I know there are people who need Roaccutane, I am not one of them. I don’t say this to be vain I just think it is over prescribed.

Holistic Practitioners:I’ve been to three over the past 10years and they all helped me with pieces of the puzzle but none got me 100% clear.

Last straw:In the middle of last year I developed a nasty case of perioral dermatitis. My chin was constantly flaking. I had red bumps around my eyes and my skin felt like it was on fire (see pics). I knew this was something outside regular acne so I bit the bullet and went to see another derm. He prescribed me some Elidel and sent me on my way. Elidel cleared up the dermatitis but the acne was still there. At my next appointment (November 2017) he started discussing Roaccutane and I asked for Azelaic acid instead. I have had steady improvements since adding this to the mix (see bottom of post for pics).

What has worked/what I do now: I think AZELAIC ACID has made the biggest change to my skin in the shortest amount of time (I get a generic version of Finacea). I use a pea-sized amount morning/night only around my chin/upper lip area (anywhere else and it is too harsh for regular use). Almost all of my comedones have cleared out and without any major purging. I’ve been through 2-3 menstrual cycles now and haven’t had any new ones pop up. I occasionally get a weird bump on my cheek or around my nose but if I spot treat with Azelaic it is gone within 24hrs.

Other Products:I use Neutrogena “Extra Gentle” cleanser and Avene “Toleraine Emulsion” as they have minimal ingredients. I use Norwex face cloths only for my face and try and wash my silk pillowcase every 3-4 days. I also use EcoMinerals mineral foundation which doesn’t appear to clog my pores. I sadly can’t/don’t use any hair products even dry shampoo as find I will always get a random bump within 2-3 days of using it. I can’t use powder eyeshadow as the particles fall on my upper cheeks and cause breakouts.

Other health:I don’t want to minimise this side of things as I feel grateful for my acne in some respects as it has given me a good understanding of my body. The following things have helped my health overall and in turn my skin. I have had some gastro distress from taking antibiotics in the past so I try and get gut-healing foods into my diet daily – kombucha, raw sauerkraut, kimchi, probiotics, water kefir, gelatin gummies, bone broth, L-glutamine. I mostly follow a Paleo diet but more so because I feel like I have more energy with it. I know food can impact my breakouts so if I eat too much dairy, sugar, soy or gluten I can get unexpected breakouts but they are significantly less than they were. It is such a freeing experience to be able to have those occasional treats without worrying that I have wrecked my progress. I am also on BCP which I think helps to an extent. I would like to transition off of these soon but have been scared in the past of the post-pill breakouts. Azelaic acid has made me more confident in trying however. I also exercise 5-6x a week and try to meditate daily.

Other, other:This doesn’t take into account the hundreds if not thousands of hours I have spent over the last 10+years trying to figure out my skin/body. I think this has all contributed as well (not that I would recommend that level of obsession). It has given me a really good understanding of what does and doesn’t work for me even if it not completely “logical.” It’s your skin. Trust in what you’ve learned about it.

Anyways I know this is long but I am really happy with my results. You should be able to get Azelaic acid on Amazon without a prescription. It’s worth a try and a quick Google search will bring up others who have had similar results. I think it is an ingredient that should be used more regularly in treating acne and not a “second or third line treatment” as my derm told me.

If you have any questions about anything I have tried or done or about Azelaic acid please get in contact. My skin in not perfect but I am less and less worried about what I will find in the mirror each morning. I know the impact acne can have on a person’s life. It shouldn’t, but it does. If I can help in any way I am more than willing.

All my love :symbols_v1_0:

Nov17 to Feb18.PNG

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How long did Azelaic acid take to work for You? I was on it for about 4 weeks and was then took off it cause my doc thought it should of cleared more of my acne by then.

23yo male btw.
congrats on your Skin! Looks good.

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Hi jPablo, 

Thanks ^_^

I honestly started seeing a change within the first week mainly in reducing overall redness. By the first month a lot of the congestion had noticeably cleared but it probably has taken three months to get the more stubborn spots to finally clear out. 

Did you notice any changes in your skin when you started?

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3 hours ago, crimson_tiara said:

Hi jPablo, 

Thanks ^_^

I honestly started seeing a change within the first week mainly in reducing overall redness. By the first month a lot of the congestion had noticeably cleared but it probably has taken three months to get the more stubborn spots to finally clear out. 

Did you notice any changes in your skin when you started?

Around 3 weeks in I noticed some reduction in redness but my face was still very irritated with deep pimples. I felt my skin was also very dull using it.

but glad it worked for you.

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I'm sorry it didn't work as well for you jPablo!
Hopefully you will find the right combination that gets you clear by working with you doctor.
I don't know if you've investigated any internal causes but that helped me a lot as well.
Also the video series of YouTube by Ben Fuchs called the "7 types of acne" might be helpful in pinpointing the cause and then possible solutions. 
 

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