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Struggles With Adult Acne...

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I'm not big on blogs and I've never kept one before, but I figure my (frustrating) circumstances might be shared by some others on acne.org. And if that's the case, maybe what I am doing could serve as a source of ideas to others. Or at least a place to commiserate.

I am a 25 y/o female and I have struggled with acne for over 10 years. I don't remember exactly when I started having skin trouble, all I know is that I look back at pictures of myself as a child and wonder how in the WORLD my skin was ever so clear and smooth. Over the years, I have tried everything from prescription meds (BenzaClin, Tretinoin, Doxycycline, the pill, Benzaclin again, Tazorac, Bactrim) to otc stuff (Proactiv, Sulfer-based creams, bp-based products, salicylic acid-based products) to natural stuff (the oil cleansing method, tea tree oil, witch hazel) to gentle stuff (purpose cleanser, cetaphil, aquanil).

I think the most frustrating thing about it all is that nothing has ever cleared my skin up. There has not been a day in over 10 years where I didn't get out of bed and immediately reach for the concealer. If anything, my acne has actually worsened over the years. Whereas it used to consist of a lot of smaller red bumps and pimples and usually one painful cyst at a time, it has recently (in the last 6ish months) turned into many (8-10) painful cysts at a time and the usual assortment of red bumps and pimples. It sucks. Even moreso because I know of literally no one my age that struggles with such acne issues. I know I am not the only one, but none of my friends or acquaintances suffer from serious breakouts - at most, some of them get the occasional pimple every few months. I feel embarrassed to go out, because no matter how good I am at concealing the discoloration of the breakouts (and I am *really* good at this), there is just no way to conceal the large lumps protruding out of my skin.

In November 2008, I finally began to see a well-regarded dermatologist in my area. For years I held a deep suspicion of dermatologists... I am not sure exactly why, but I felt that they couldn't possibly help me anymore than my regular doctor (who was, obviously, pretty much unable to help me). This dermatologist diagnosed me with acne that is primarily hormonally-induced, but told me to stay on the pill and added 2 months of Bactrim (to calm the inflammation of the breakouts) and Tazorac 2x per week to my regimen. She also told me that for my skin, I really should be using a simple gentle cleanser (I chose Aquanil because Cetaphil irritated my skin) and a plain moisturizer (I like Aveeno).

So that's where I am now. 2.5 months into my derm's treatment plan, and so far not much improvement. She told me that the first 6ish months on Tazorac would make my skin worse before it gets better (how many times have I heard that phrase before?). I am still dealing with waay too many painful cysts at a time (currently have about 8, mostly on my chin), and last week tried cortisone injections for the very first time to try to keep my skin under control for a wedding I was attending yesterday. It worked...until new breakouts surfaced between the time I got the shots and the wedding. Sigh. Maybe it's because I have been under an extreme amount of stress lately... I know that stress hormones can destroy your body, I have just never experienced it before. Anyone?

So there's an intro. Feel free to ask questions or share thoughts. Hopefully in a number of months I will be able to say that I have FINALLY found something that actually solves the adult, hormonally-induced acne problem!

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