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patience is a virtue.....

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Giving up

Well it's been a while I know. I got distracted with work and play. And my skin was improving until bam! I had a rather incredible outbreak of cysts. No idea where that came from.

I'd had a lot of work and I wasn't sleeping all that well. Feeling a bit overworked and stressed.

Anyway my skin is gradually calming down and I'm taking a bit of time off. I decided at the weekend to give up on the antibiotics and the Isotrex cream and basically not really do anything or put anything on my skin. Except that I've just started using jojoba oil. I've never really been that happy about putting chemicals on my skin and I'd heard good things about this oil, so I'd thought I'd give it a go. So far so good. No weird reactions and my skin feels rather balanced - i.e. I have seriously combination skin: very dry in some places and incredibly oily in others.

So I'm going to continue with the not doing much regime and see what happens. I even can't be bothered to put any spot cream on the spots that I have at the moment. It just dries my skin out too much.


So far so good

Well I have to say I am rather surprised that the antibiotics are working. I didn't have much faith in them to be honest. But I've just taken my 12th pill and I haven't had any big cysts or pustules for about 10 days now. I haven't had any bad side affects, though sometimes I can really feel the pill hitting my stomach (although I take it with breakfast and without milk products as recommended).

I'm also in my 7th week of using the Isotrex so maybe it's a combination of the two that's clearing my skin.

So at the moment I am basically dealing with scars that are healing gradually.

Also wondering what will happen when I stop using this stuff. Although, like I've said before, my skin has actually cleared up on its own before so there is no reason to suspect that after I stop taking this medication I'll just break out again.


oh sunshine

Well it's been a really great few days of sunshine here in Germany and I have to say it makes a huge difference to my mood (i.e. for the better). Being careful in the sun with my type of skin doesn't mean not going in the sun. Since last year I've been using Dr Hauschka's mineral sunscreen, and I haven't had any odd reactions from it.

I'm happy if I can look a little bit less pale than I do in the winter (though I don't tan at all, just glow a bit and get freckles!), and the dryness of my skin starts to go, only to be replaced by an oil slick on my nose (yuk).

My skin seems to be doing okay with the antibiotics. No new breakouts.



I'm sorry to say that I've succumbed to starting the antibiotics, which I did three days ago. Plus I'm still using the Isotrex cream. Hmmm. I just thought I'd give it a go and see what happens over the next couple of weeks.

I'm really not that wild about taking antibiotics. But if it can kick start a clearing up of the breakouts that I'm having at the moment, then I will be satisfied.

Something that I'm doing as well is trying to put on weight!! This isn't really connected to my skin problems, but well, it might be, I dunno. But for various reasons and without any effort on my part, I've gradually been losing weight over the past year or so and I've had one too many people remarking that I look like I've lost weight. I was already pretty thin to begin with so losing more weight really isn't good.

Anyway, back to the spots - I have a lovely new lump on my left cheek which appeared yesterday and a couple of other spots here and there plus scars of healing spots. My skin doesn't look all that bad, but I'm not crazy about it either. Oh well oh well.

I have to be really careful in the sun - I tend to get a break out of whiteheads if I'm in direct sunlight for too long. I wear lots of sunscreen because I have pale skin and burn very very easily. Oh I love my skin!!.....


Good news

yes the good news is that no new (big) spots have appeared over the last couple of days. Hurrah!!

It was funny on Wednesday evening there looked to be about three spots lurking under the skin and a little red. I had a fun night on Wednesday and by the next day they had tiny little whiteheads on them and have all but disappeared.

Naturally I'm rather happy about this. Also happy that I haven't started on the antibiotics.

But what I've been doing instead is - doing yoga for about 20 minutes everyday, and I've self-prescribed myself lots of fun and hanging out with friends, as well as lots of work (still got a big deadline looming). i.e. more time doing enjoyable things less time worrying about how I look.


I was talking to a friend of mine last night about starting the antibiotics for my skin. She couldn't believe they give you antibiotics for acne. I don't really either if I'm honest. And I was annoyed that the dermatologist was only looking at my skin and not asking me any questions about my medical history, my diet, my health etc etc..

So I bottled it on taking the first antibiotic pill this morning. I'm going to wait a little while and see what my skin can do on its own. It's cleared up without medication before, so I guess it can again (though I'm still going to be using the Isotrex, though I think only at night because it makes my skin feel plain weird during the day).

I shall share my insights into fighting acne as naturally as possible. The first thing I want to sort out is my diet. Though I'm not going to do any elimination diet, I am going to try and make sure I get more fibre in my diet, to, you know... get things.... moving well....

Also I will start doing yoga again. I did yoga for a good few months last year and I have to say I think it really helped my skin a lot. And, as I've mentioned in previous blogs, I do think acne, for me at least, is psychosomatic and this is an area is something I would like to tackle.


Onto antibiotics

Had my dermatologist's appointment today. One observation about my dermatologist - he has a rather strange wrinkle-free skin for a guy in his 50's (I'm guessing). Too many chemical peels or botox injections I reckon.....

Anyway, I moaned about my skin not really improving from just using the Isotrex and he gave me some antibiotics to try (Doxycyclin 50mg) and said that my skin would improve within 14 days.... I will give it a whirl. So I will be taking one of these a day plus keep using the Isotrex and see what the next two weeks brings.

Spot count: pustules/cysts (sorry - don't think I've got the hang of the technical names for the different spots, anyway, these ones are big and red and take a while to go) = 5 (though all are gradually disappearing), open pores galore across my nose and cheeks (yuk). A few tiny spots too, but on the whole no big changes (thank god). Also bumpiness on my chin, which I've had for ages but I just wish they would go now. And also this unhealable scar on my cheek.

My derm also suggested I get some chemical peels of some description. I'm not so convinced. I have rather sensitive skin and I'm not overly keen on the idea of scraping off layers in one go.


Oh joy of joys, I think I'm starting to get another cyst right next to one that has finally started to calm down. And that just gets right on my nerves. Maybe, just maybe, it might not come to a head and just disappear. I hope.

The weekend was a bit silly for me - I spent Friday evening trying to cover up one side of my face with my hair. And I think this just made me feel so much more paranoid about how my skin looked. I'm sure it actually just draws attention to the spots anyway!

I'm getting a few more smaller spots here and there which is also irritating me. And a scar that has never properly healed is red again. This scar is strange. It was the only spot that I picked - normally I'm really good at not picking but for some reason I did with this one and this is the result - a scar that sometimes comes back as a spot to haunt me!

So I'm pretty fed up with my skin all in all. There doesn't seem to have been much improvement in the frequency of outbreaks whilst I've been using Isotrex these past four weeks.

I have an appointment with my dermatologist tomorrow so maybe I will ask him about Roaccutane and when and if that might be a good idea. I can't say that I would be happy to do another course of Roaccutane (had my first course when I was 20, and I'm now 29), but because it worked so well the first time I would at least consider it.

I have to say, one thing I'm very thankful for is that here in Germany you can make an appointment directly with a dermatologist, so, unlike in the UK, you don't have to wait forever for a referral from you GP.


Day 25 I think....

Well the good news is there have been no overnight changes to my skin, apart from a couple of tiny spots, and quite frankly, when you're dealing with cysts and nodules, a tiny blip of a spot is nothing. So the count is on the 'active' spots: one slightly painful nodule on the bridge between my eyes (crazy, I very very rarely get spots here), one nodule on my left cheek (that doesn't seem to be disappearing...), one inflammed spot not far from this (though this one is healing), and another one on my chin bone. Plus other spots that are healing and still red, and a few tiny spots that aren't really worth the mention. When you add it up, I know it doesn't sound like a lot and actually this is the worse it has been for a while.

I have noticed that the Isotrex does make the spots heal a lot quicker than they would before (when I would've just used some Neutrogena on the spot). And the scars and redness that were rather prominent before have improved a lot. I have a dermatologist's appointment next week so we shall see what he says...

Reading around on other people's blogs and messages I notice that many people have quite a complex regimen. I don't. But I shall tell you what it is anyway:

morning and night: Eucerin Face Wash and Cream Gel moisturiser for acne-prone skin. Probably about once a week I use a face scrub (at the moment I use Dr Hauschka). And I did use to use a face mask once a week (just a very basic one that looks a bit like mud), but I've been a bit wary of using this since using Isotrex.

What else? There was a time when I was über careful about what I ate (no refined carbohydrates, refined sugars and limited amounts of dairy products) but I got sick of thinking about it too much and quite frankly I saw very little difference to my skin and just went back to normal - still lots of fresh fruit and veg, lots of water but I don't worry too much about the rest of it. Actually I think when I did that elimination type of diet I lost weight - which was not good because I'm already thin. That's when I started eating chocolate crossiants again, and I don't think it's had much of an impact on my skin.


As predicted.....

Yes. As predicted I got an spot outbreak this week. I could see it coming! It's been a difficult four days or so with work, full of high emotion and massive disappointments and therefore it came as no surprise to find my face joining in with a full on explosion. Which of course makes me feel even worse. I can't be the only one who thinks there is a causal link between how I feel and how my body (and in my case, my skin) reacts.

But onwards and upwards. This is just a dip that I can deal with and get over.

One last thought - beauty, for women in particular, is extremely valuable. There is no getting around this one. For many women, myself included, having to deal with acne is really rather traumatic because the agreed social norm is that women have to be beautiful in order to be perceived as successful. Of course I am not saying this is the only way you can be successful - far far from it. And in my line of work there is little advantage to being beautiful. But nevertheless having to deal with acne undermines my sense of worth in many areas of my life.

And I would really like to get out of this vicious circle.


Got a couple of small blemishes yesterday. Maybe due to being out in the sun (though with sunscreen on, of course) whilst jogging. I've always had sun-sensitive skin even before I started with any acne treatments and I have often found there is a connection between the sun and getting spots.

Though it's nothing major so - hurrah! Other monster spots going down (some quicker than others). I've got a week of travel and deadlines so I could be in for another breakout, we shall see.

I'd just like to take a moment to write about why I think that my skin problems are psychosomatic. Though I can, of course, only talk from my experience and I haven't had any training in psychology, I am convinced that a build up of bad feeling and stress can lead to an extended break out. I can see a pattern emerging in my life when I've been coping with a lot of change or difficult relationships that my skin gets worse. And I wouldn't say it is the day to day stress that's really the problem. It seems that it is a mechanism that my body has developed over time, as a reaction to psychologically difficult periods.

And of course prevention is infinitely better than cure so I suppose this aspect of the 'illness' (god I hate calling acne an illness) is an area I could definitely do some work on....


Day 17

Went swimming and had a sauna yesterday. I know they say that saunas are supposed to be bad for your skin, but I've never seen much of a correlation. Anyway it's a dry heat not a humid one. Also it totally relaxes me and this has to be a good thing.

I decided to slightly change my routine of application - wash with Eucerin face wash then apply their moisturising cream. Wait a bit (half hour to an hour) and then put on the Isotrex. It's a tiny change, but I thought that the moisturiser was probably not going to be at all useful if I applied it after the Isotrex (i.e. that it would just sit on my skin).

As for the condition of my skin - I got one new biggish whitehead yesterday that came up pretty quickly and seems to be diminishing pretty quickly too. Thank god. The other spots are calming down and I do think the overall complexion is improving - not so much redness or blotchiness. I notice some dryness and I might do a gentle facial scrub later to get rid of the dead skin.

One other thing is that I'm trying not to wear too much make-up. It's not that I'm bothered so much about irritation (although that is an issue), it's more that I don't think it makes my skin look much better. When you have a few lumps wearing foundation just seems to highlight them rather than conceal them (which is, of course, rather impossible). Foundation and concealer is great for scars that are healing but not really for big active spots.

It does mean that you have to have a bit more courage to face the world when you're worried about redness, but honestly once you've got passed the hard part of going outside without a layer of make-up on, you're fine. Confidence and sexiness is more than just a pretty face. And I'm not just saying that. I know it to be true. Hold your head up and walk like you mean business. It does you the world of good.


Day 16 .....

Again not really much to report.

I'm getting quite a few small whiteheads here and there which I think must be a good thing, right? Clearing the pores etc etc. But no new big spots. Though I am slightly worried about one of the larger spots which is healing, but I'm concerned about scarring. I guess I shall see over time whether it does or not.

I don't think I'm getting the balance of Isotrex and moisturiser right. For some reason my skin gets really oily when I use any kind of moisturiser but if I don't then it is way too dry. Maybe my skin is just getting used to the change. Or there isn't enough moisture in the skin and therefore it overproduces oil.

I have to say that although my skin has been much much worse than it is at the moment, I'm feeling extremely sensitive about my appearance. And it gets me down of course. I just have to put it at the back of my mind and concentrate on other things.

I'm 29. I don't want to be thinking about my skin so often!!!


Day 14 no change

No change is a good thing.

To cleanse I've been using Eucerin's facial cleansing line for acne-prone skin and yesterday night decided to skip the toner and moisturiser (which is strange - for some reason using the Isotrex made my skin a bit oily and not dry. Maybe I was using too much...) and put the Isotrex straight on my cleansed skin.

The smoothness of my skin is definitely improving. And the spots that had emerged are still here and ever present but I sense they are not going to get worse (I hope).

What I find helps (or has helped) me sometimes to cope with having acne -

- ignoring it. Only looking in the mirror once or twice a day and the rest of the time just forgetting about it.

- yoga.

- exercise in general. I'm loving running at the moment. So what if my skin doesn't look perfect?

- reminding myself that everyone else is insecure about something


Day 13 of Isotrex

Before I lurch into my current battle, I shall give you a brief history:

I am 29, female, and have had acne for a long time. However, it joyously cleared up when I took Roaccutane when I was about 20. The clear result lasted for about 4 years.

My acne tends to flare up when I'm going through big changes in my life (i.e. moving cities, moving countries - I moved to Germany 18 months ago and this caused a major and sustained breakout.....). In the last 18 months my skin has managed to clear up on its own for almost 4 months.... then the downward slope started once more.

At the moment I have mild/moderate acne (though sometimes I look in the mirror and think this label is a joke!) which has been severe before. I decided recently that enough was enough and I went to see a dermatologist who prescribed me Isotrex 0,05%.

The first week to 10 days of this were great. My skin became a lot smoother, the skin tone evened out and I was generally pretty smug about having no huge spots on my face. Then a few days ago my skin broke out rather spectacularly - I now have a monster of a spot on my cheek and two other rather angry looking ones plus whiteheads etc etc. Though I do think partying a little too much last week may have had some influence on this breakout and not necessarily anything to do with my new medication.

Anyway suffice to say I'm pretty annoyed with my skin at the moment. But I'm going to do my best and be patient and keep my fingers crossed that my skin will get better and that this is just the storm before the calm.

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