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Hi all.

So. Phew. Where to begin?

I have just turned 21 and have had acne ever since I was 12. So just shy of 10 years. My acne isn't severe I wouldn't say but I have enough of it for it to affect me both mentally and physically. My parents both don't have the best skin. My dad is super oily (he practically drips oil) and my mum's is very dry and thin and she is prone to hormonal breakouts. Which leaves me with a combination skin type. My skin is also very sensitive.

My acne only began to affect me when I was becoming more self-conscious about my appearance, so around 14. None of my friends had it so I began researching and asking around and became aware of birth control to treat acne. I had already tried topicals like Retin-A and alike which did nothing but irritate my skin, to which I would combat with fatty Advantan lotion but that only made the acne worse. My GP is an Asian lady so she was pretty reluctant to prescribe me birth control pills, which made me even more determined to try it out, She ended up giving me 3 months of Diana. The birth control ended up giving me severe diarrhea and a face full of cystic acne which left scars on my face that I still have today. Consequently, I stopped using it immediately. I have tried all three of the anti-biotics. On and off. Side effects I experienced while on these were dry skin and thrush and my skin simply did not improve since I don't think it was bacteria that was causing it. I have tried Proactive and an abundance of all that other OTC stuff, benzoyl peroxide, AHA, salicylic acid etc.

I even went to a Chinese herbalist and they gave me teas and pills and washes to try and 'cool' the 'fire' in my blood. I also have extremely itchy and irritable scalp but no dandruff. I have been to 3 GPs with my conditions and none of them have helped me. I've tried things like hydrogen peroxide, sudocrem, apple cider vinegar to no avail.

I have tried to set up appointments with a dermatologist but I don't have the money to foot the bill which is $210, my family are going through a rough patch financially at the moment. I have considered Accutane, but my skin, scalp and skin on my body is already so dry, I also don't have the money to purchase all the secondary products that people recommend like Aquaphor and La Roche. My deepest fear is that it won't work for me or I have to be dependent on it for my whole life. One of my friends went to see my local derm when she had an allergic reaction and she thought it was acne and she said he was nasty about everything and pretty much said moisturiser clogs pores and everything that we put on our face clogs our pores so he advised her to just wash with water and then use adapalene for the scarring. I was pretty sceptical when I heard all this so I feel reluctant to pay $210 for to go and see him.

I work in retail where I feel my acne severely affects me. I am afraid to look people in the eye. Makeup also makes everything look so much worse that I want to cry most days. I am not the prettiest girl to begin with and I have never had a boyfriend. I have been asked out a couple times but I rejected them due to my emotional issues. I am extremely self conscious but I also have a lazy attitude to everything, therefore I don't exactly take the best care of my skin and diet. Acne has drastically affected the way I have developed over my teenage years and now adulthood, mentally more than anything. I hate myself most days. I have very low confidence and am very afraid at social situations. My friends and family don't even mention my skin anymore as they just accept it but for me it is the elephant in the room. At times I feel so angry I just want to burn my face so that it will go away. I also get acne on my back and chest that are extremely painful. My acne is also very bipolar, leading up to the new year my face was mostly clear and I felt hopeful and very excited to be acne free and just to be alive and not worry about my skin and what's on it. However, since new years day, i have severely broken out that I look hideous and it is very painful, the cysts are all along my jaw starting from my ear to the other ear. I have four above my lip, one forming at the corner of my lip, several more above my jawline, and my cheeks and some painful bumps on my forehead. They are all cystic, very red and angry looking. It hurts even when I sleep.

I have also noticed that perhaps I have an allergy to corn. I became aware of this when every time after a movie I would break out really badly in angry red cysts so I stopped eating popcorn and that seems to have had an effect. I had whole corn on nye which I think may have contributed to it but I don't know. I looked at the corn allergen list online and EVERYTHING has corn in it pretty much, corn syrup, corn flour etc. Acne is so exasperating.

I am not seeking for any help or advice in particular, mainly I just wanted to write it all down since it is a major thing in my life that is getting me down. I feel like because I look so horrible I don't deserve nice things, to wear nice clothes or to go and have fun. It is always at the back of my mind but I don't talk about it because the people around me are all sick of hearing it and they honestly don't not know how to help me. It is basically a permanent part of who I am now. I am scared for my future, I am in my 20's now and I should be at my physical peak and looking and feeling my best, instead I hide inside when I don't have to work. Worrying about my skin is physically exhausting. I am also afraid because I don't think I will be able to get a job with my skin like this after I graduate from uni because I am even self-conscious to talk to teachers and professors. I have done nothing social at uni and I know I am wasting my time there.

If anyone has made it through my tome of a story, I applaud you. I know we are all sufferers here and that I'm not alone, but the feeling of helplessness is ever pervading. I just wanted to share my thoughts and experiences.

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I'm so sorry you're feeling so down sad.png As most of us do on this website, I completely understand your frustrations and sadness.

I'm 23 and only just now found out what works to clear my acne (A combination of Beyaz birth control and the anti-androgen medication Spironolactone). But before I found these things, I just constantly thought about my skin and how I was going to clear it. Don't give up, you'll find what works for you eventually if you keep working at it.

Your time spent at university is not in vain-- education is an amazing thing. Just because you haven't done incredible social things, doesn't mean you aren't getting something invaluable out of it. Just having a degree puts you a huge step forward. I went on an interview when I was 21 (for a high school science teaching job)-- I was breaking out, but put some makeup on to increase my confidence at least by a little. I got the job because I remembered to focus on what I have done and my capabilities and my knowledge of the field, not what I looked like during the interview. I know you could do the same biggrin.png

Acne has been a huge contributor to my humility and to my overall character. In retrospect, I was (and still am) a more considerate and compassionate person because of it. But while I had acne-- seeing the silver lining was almost impossible. I'm sorry that your dermatologist visits have been so disappointing. sad.png That bothers me, as they're supposed to be helpful and sensitive....and I didn't go to one for years because I was afraid they'd be mean like that. Since your acne is mainly cystic, I would look into treating it hormonally and maintaining a really simple washing/moisturizing routine. I know you said that you tried birth control, but there are MANY varieties of birth control with different concentrations of different hormones. I finally went to a dermatologist and pretty much told him that I think my acne is hormonal, and he prescribed what I asked for. Being a little aggressive helps is YOUR body, afterall.

Sorry this response was so long! haha....biggrin.png Also, if your name is Heidi...mine too! :P

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My name IS Heidi! Hahah. Best name ;)

I am feeling a lot better since this post, I have been to a different dermatologist and she is putting me on accutane.

I really hope it all clears up.

And you're right, most people don't judge based on appearances, confidence is the key.

Thanks so much for replying, it means a lot!

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