Throughout high school, I had mild to moderate acne and was on pretty much every topical known to man (Retin-A, Differin, antibiotic lotions, etc.), then oral antibiotics (tetracycline & erythromycin), then finally on Accutane, which "did the trick."
Since then (past 5-6 years), I used various OTC products and tried the Regimen, which all worked with moderate success. Unfortunately, the products would only work for so long, then stop working, so I would have to switch. My acne was moderately controllable, with only the occasional breakout, but I was able to cover it easily with makeup.
Last year, I finally got fed up enough with not being able to go outside without having to put on makeup and saw the Physician's Asst. at a busy practice. She had me buy a $30 glycolic acid (MDForte) cleanser and gave me a prescription for Azelex. I saw a minor difference in using the Azelex, then after a few months of no "huge" difference, I went back to my semi-modified Regime of Cetaphil or 2% salicylic wash plus the 2.5% BP spot treatment.
This fall I visited another dermatologist with hopes of solving this once and for all. I've posted the numerous topicals she's prescribed for me, but for the most part, they haven't made much of a difference. (See blog post with "cycles" of Rx and OTC treatments.)
Main issues: I have fair skin, so it's hard to find a balance - either the stuff doesn't do anything, but my face doesn't get scaly/dry out, or it's too harsh and I end up with flaking/peeling skin (even after the 8-10 week "adjustment period) and red splotches.
For the first time, I've started to notice acne scars, and I'm starting to get pissed, because the stuff.does.nothing. Sure, sometimes I get lucky, but it seems I get acne in random places along my face, which then refuse to go away no matter what topical I use on them. Trying the Differin as a preventative only goes so far - god forbid I miss a spot (or even if I do get my entire face), a rogue bunch of pimples will pop up and move in for a good week or two.
A little more recently:
First cycle (Sept - mid Nov 07)
Cleanser: 10% BP, then self-switched to that $30 glycolic acid wash
AM: Benzaclin (benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin)
PM: Retin-A Micro 0.025% gel
Moisturizer (AM only): Aloe vera gel and Eucerin Skin Renewal Day Lotion, SPF 15
Second cycle (mid Nov 07 - end of Jan 08)
Cleanser: Cetaphil (own decision, never discussed changing from 10% BP)
AM: Sulfacet-R (sodium sulfacetamide and sulfur)
Moisturizer (AM only): Olay "Age Defying Protective Renewal Lotion" w/beta hydroxy & SPF 15
Third cycle (end of Jan 08 - now)
Moisturizer (AM only): Olay Age Defying
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