Retin A Micro - Pushing Through - North Vancouver, BC

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Some background: I have had problems with acne...

Some background: I have had problems with acne since highschool and was first prescribed an array of antibiotics (tetracycline, minocycline etc) that yielded no results. I was then put on Diane 35 and switched to Yasmin when that didn't work. Since I was 14 I've been on Yasmin and it was great for controlling my acne to the point I could go to bed with makeup on and not get a zit the next day. When I turned 24 my skin started to break out again. After stress at my job my face started to get worse. I ended Yasmin due to reports of blood clots and because I felt it was making me depressed. Now at 26 I have been experiencing painful cystic acne for the last year. I thought I'd plow through going off the pill but after a year, my face is acne scar ridden. I started Retin A after my sister (who's been on Acutane and now on Retin A) recommended it to me.

I would classify my acne as moderate as its not as bad as some people I've seen online but definitely worse due the fact I can have up to 8 cystic spots at once (although this isn't a regular thing) The photos don't do it justice since you can't see the how the spot project out from my face.

My regime:
1 hour before bed - wash face with Dove soap
15 to 30 minutes later - apply pea to blueberry size of retin a micro to entire face
30 minutes later - I may apply cetaphil on top if I feel really dry (like a whole layer!)
then to bed immediately!
morning - wash face with cetaphil (one for acne with zinc), apply cetaphil moisturizer with spf (also for acne specifically with zinc), wait as long as a can for it to dry, apply makeup primer (smashbox), apply cream based concealer, apply setting powder. blot face throughout day

Week 1: started with retin a micro 0.04% (i highly recommend you start low and then dose up after your skin recovers) first couple of days were ok with no adverse side effects. however, i'm glad i started using retin a micro at the start of my vacation, because the first week I felt like a monster and would have died if I had to go to work. by the end of the first week, my skin was scaly and peeling. I felt like my face was on fire and it was painful when I put lotion to try to sooth my skin. I read online that this is very normal and decided to push through it. Immediately I noticed that my face looked worse because it was more red which exaggerated any pimples and acne scars that already existed. It also looked worse because more or my acne was coming to the surface. On the plus side, my cystic acne was turning over very quickly. normally a cystic spot would take 1 to 2 weeks to come to a whitehead and then disappear - now it was taking 2-3 days. It was gross because all a sudden I had all these white heads and my skin was flaking off so fast that my skin was so thin. unfortunately, one small bump or even while washing my face gentley, these whiteheads would explode and my skin would start bleeding. It was very owie.

Week 2: My skin was still peeling but was no where near as bad as week 1. I had been making a point to gentle remove any dead skin by gently scrubbing my face with my finger tips. the excess skin would ball up onto my fingers and reduce the scaliness I was experiencing. makeup was dreadful as my face became smoother - almost too smooth. the acne was still there but things seemed to be flattening out. I say too smooth because my makeup would slide right off my face. by the end of the day I looked like I was melting.

Week 3: (started using retin a micro 0.1%) I'm now partway through week 3 and find that my skin is super oily... but still dry! which makes no sense at first. but on some acne spot I get flakiness, yet my nose and cheeks and t-zone are swimming with oil. I started applying cetaphil lotion to my face 30 minutes after applying retin a micro to reduce the redness. I noticed my pores look huge but think this may be inflammation and irritation of my skin rather than the actual pores enlarging. I apply a matting powder in the morning but in 2 hours I'm greasy. I feel like i'm sweaty all over my face when i'm not, but it hurts to smile because my face is dry underneath the surface. however, on the positive my left cheek and chin are completely clear of cystic acne and only scarring remains. this too is fading extremely quickly. my right side is in purging stage and so is my forehead - but I remain positive that this too will clear up as my chin went through a 6 pimple purge in week 1 and 2. I used some of my boyfriends cortisol gel (he has eczema) on my eyelids as the retin a was sliding down to my eyelids which became red and irritated (I sleep on my stomach and so my face mushes into my pillow).

I have a 2 night stagette to attend in august and am hoping for a good result by then. I feel embarrassed and horrified to be around the other girls with no makeup :(

Week 4

thought things were getting better but then developed more cystic acne on my cheek and on my forehead near my eye/eyebrow. It started to really hurt and wasn't dome shaped like it normally is. I suspected it was infected and confirmed this with a doctor. Was prescribed Doxycycline for the current infection and for my acne. Now taking 100mg twice a day for 6 weeks. This is day two of taking the antibiotic and the inflammation has definitely gone down. My face is really red and irritated from the retin A micro. Stayed home from work since my face is infected and the pain is too much and since my work exposes me to a lot of things that might infect my skin further.

Contemplating Accutane but I know I need to see this doxycycline through and the retin a micro for at least a couple more months.

Week 5

The Doxycycline is really effective against my cystic acne. In fact I haven't gotten another cystic one since I started taking it. The old ones are pretty much gone but have left scaring, not surprisingly. I would highly recommend that anyone who tries Retin A to also push to take Doxycycline at the same time. I think if I had tried these two in combo from the beginning I wouldn't have had to go through the "purging" stage of Retin A in the first couple of weeks. My plan is to see the Doxycycline through for the 6 weeks (maybe tapering off to taking 1 X 100mg pill instead of 2 per day) and hopefully end with just using the Retin A micro.

I will stop the antibiotic use this weekend as I'm attending a stagette and cannot mix heavy alcohol with the Doxycycline. But then back on it as soon as I get back! Things are looking up!

Week 8

The doxycycline really kicked all my deep painful acne's butt! woohoo
last Friday I stopped taking it (as you cannot drink alcohol) and went on a trip to Vegas. after a two day break, I restarted doxycycline at 100mg a day (half the dosage as before since all the acne is gone). I stopped using the retin a as well since the air there is so drying and my skin was already quite red. I continued using cetaphil wash and facecream while there and my skin actually got better. things have been pretty good so far. I have a couple zits on my forehead and one on my chin - but I think this is partially because of my cycle (if you know what I mean ;) ha).

after I came back from my trip I started treating a new routine since all my main acne is gone. I am alternating two regimens so as to avoid over irritating my skin with the retin a.

day1 - morning: wash with Neutrogena salicylic acid cleanser, use cetaphil zinc acne moisturizer, use forever makeup primer, add makeup
day 1 - night: wash with Neutrogena salicylic acid cleanser, spot treat with clindoxyl

day 2 - morning: wash with Neutrogena salicylic acid cleanser, use cetaphil zinc acne moisturizer, use forever makeup primer, add makeup
day 2 - night: wash with dove soap to remove makeup, wash with cetaphil zinc cleanser. wait at least 20 minutes, sparingly apply retin a micro 0.1%

my goal with this new regimen is to quickly remove all the acne scars that remain while still keeping my acne at bay. I suspect all the bacteria built up over time and that's why my acne was so bad in the last year. now that the doxycycline has cleared everything I am hopeful I will have an easier time now.
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