Post # 1
I finally got fed up. Made a dermatologist appointment for next week.
I’ve always had moderately oily but sensitive skin. It’s genetic, my dad’s back gets bad excema and my mom still gets pimples now and then. My acne used to be fairly manageable though by the time I hit high school, I had a washing and topical spot treatment system that worked and only got a little bit of issues around my hairline and occasionally other places, usually predictably hormonal. No biggie.
Then I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar II, after the worst 5-6 years ever, and found lamictal. It’s great, after a few months I noticed a HUGE difference and minimal side effects – the hot-cold flashes and severe dizziness/incoherence in the mornings slowly diminished, etc. But I started getting really bad cystic acne on my cheeks and jawline and my chest and back. And giant boils around my ears. I tried all sorts of stuff, washing vs not washing and all kinds of products and I’m at the point where I’m using clay masks all the time and tea tree oil and benzoyl peroxide/salycilic acid combos, expensive moisturisers, keeping my hair up all the time and putting clean towels on my pillow and it’s pretty much running my life to get to a point where I can say, well at least it’s easier to cover up? I’m in my early 20s, a year away from a wedding and am over it.
The issues are that I can’t go on birth control pills because of the interaction (I’ve tried, disaster), and I’m concerned about antibiotics being temporary – because this medication or some medication certainly is permanent, and I’d rather stay on something that works really well for me and where I can still think clearly. And yeah, I’d rather have acne than be where I used to, but acne is a real downer on top of all the other stressors and self-esteem issues I work hard to keep at bay so I stay stable.
For bees that have had similar issues, any tips, stories, warnings, words of encouragement… thank you so much in advance for sharing.
Post # 3
I’m not bipolar, so I can’t really speak to that, but I had a similar situation where I was getting horrible acne and nothing seemed to work any more. It was expensive and a huge PITA. I ended up going on Absorica, an Accutane type drug. It’s worked really well so far, and the upkeep on my face (both in terms of time and money) has decreased dramatically. You may have tow ork around the whole “no birth control” thing, but as long as you pledge to be super vigilant about condoms and another, more primary method, they may let you have it (could also do an IUD or something maybe.)
Post # 4
@EffieTrinket: I do have an IUD, I forgot to mention that. Which with condoms gets me around the pregnancy avoidance issue completely. (paranoid about that anyway!)
Post # 5
@hedgehogcatcher: Wait, hold up – it’s the Lamictal that caused it? Are you sure? Now I’m trying to think back to when my cystic acne started and if it correlates to Lamictal. I’ve been on it for 14 years.
Post # 6
@hedgehogcatcher: i am so sorry you’re going through all of this! i remember how frustrating acne was! start doing your research on dairy products causing acne. I know when I eat/drink dairy the next few days I have unexplained breakouts. can you be on Accutane while on your other medicine at the same time? Try drinking a skin detox tea, i know Yogi makes a really good one and see if that “calms” things down… Good luck and let us know how you’re doing!
Post # 7
@hedgehogcatcher: I haven’t any great advice because I struggle with my skin too. My dad had bad skin, right up to the day he died at the tender age of 38. I have also been on Accutane type stuff and I couldn’t stay on it. My face is oily but the rest of my body is bone dry and I had serious straight-up pain on Accutane.I mean I have been mainlining bio-oil on my body since I can remember, before that was available I had to use baby oil because my body is so very dry.
I can tell you to be careful about what make-up (especially foundation) you use. Make sure it is oil free and good for sensitve skin. Also if you are having cystic acne on your jaw-line I always wonder about your digestive system – sounds weird but bear with me – my sister in law studied beauty and jaw acne is a symptom of digestive issues such as constipation. Alternatively if you drink or take toxins that could be another cause. It isn’t hard-and-fast but drinking your daily dose of water and staying away from booze helps.
I have found the Nutrogena wash/mask and the accompanying moisturizer works well and it’s affordable.
Post # 8
@hedgehogcatcher: I’m not on any medication but I started getting ridiculous cystic acne several months ago due to lifestyle changes, hormones and stress. The stress hasn’t gone away but a lot of the acne has!
After a long time using products designed for problem skin (which just made my skin worse overall) I completely went back to basics with my skincare. I wash using a very gentle sulfate free cleanser (if I have make up on I use virgin coconut oil and a cloth to remove that first) followed by organic rose water for a toner. Then I use 3 drops of a natural facial oil (I use Boots Botanics but you can make your own). When I’m at home I try to keep my skin clean so will wash and use the toner a couple of times a day. My skin in between the acne now looks great!
And as for the cystic acne? You know how when a cystic pimple is developing you can feel it? As soon as I started feeling that I began putting Aztec clay mixed with apple cider vinegar directly onto them. I would then leave that on all night and reapply in the morning if I could. If not I would put it on as soon as I got home. It has worked miracles! Putting the mask on all over irritates my skin and causes more spots, but as a zapper? It’s the best thing I’ve tried (and I’ve tried ALL the branded spot zappers). In many cases it stops the pimple in it’s tracks and it never becomes a big, red beacon like it used to.
I’m also taking evening primrose oil, cod liver oil and an iron+zinc supplement to give myself some extra help from the inside.
My skin is amazing now! Yesterday I could feel a cystic lump developing so overnight I wore the spot zapper. It’s now gone today 🙂 All I have to work on now are the scars I got left with and they are slowly fading with my current routine. Hope something here helps you!
Post # 9
@hedgehogcatcher: We have a similar story with our acne journey. I am really happy you have an appointment now instead of later, because if they put you on Accutane (I’m just now finishing up my last 15 days of my 7 month course) you need time before it does it’s job. If your doctor did suggest that you begin taking Accutane, my advice is not to waffle and take several months to decide. The longer you have between starting accutane & your wedding, the better your skin will look on the big day. Btw, you would very likely be a candidate because your acne is cystic. I had moderate acne with at least one cyst (but usually multiple) on my cheeks. It’s crazy how much better my skin is now. Aside from some very light scarring, nobody would know I even had acne.
Post # 10
I couldn’t read and not post, OP. I’ve only had moderate probs with acne, but I totally understand where you’re coming from. It’s horrible. Even years after my skin cleared up, I still perceive myself as a ‘person with spots’, if that makes sense. I truly sympathise.
One product that made a HUGE difference for me was a cleanser called Herbalism by Lush (it’s like a pot of green stuff that you make into a paste and wash your face with). I’m in the UK, but as far as I remember, I think you do get Lush in the US?? Obviously, take care with it if you do try it, but I had huge success with it and so have a few people I know. I still find it very good with those painful under-the-skin type spot (which I still get now and again). Good luck x
Post # 11
Oh, and I also use Lush’s Tea Tree water, and ocasionally Enzymion face cream, too. It can be quite hit and miss (some people love it and others hate it) but it may be worth a try?
Post # 12
When did you get the IUD, and what IUD was it? I tried Mirena and about 6 months in my normally clear skin started being a problem. Got rid of it and back to normal.
Post # 13
Have you considered Isolaz? I have persistant acne, not very bad, but enough to actually discolour my skin. I’m right now in a regime of Isolaz and tactuo (a benzoyl peroxide plus another chemical aimed at unplugging the pores) and I kid you not in 1 months time I had maybe 1-2 very small pimples. The isolaz is unfortunately a bit expensive (about 100 per treatment in my area – Canada) but now I’m cutting it down to once a month. Although the treatment is expensive my makeup and overal face product costs have gone WAY down. I don’t buy any other acne treatment product (except a facial cleanser) and I don’t use any concealer anymore (that would run out every 1-2 months).
What I like about the Isolaz treatment is that it is painless except for some redness due to the suction. Just make sure to go to a good place so that they don’t bruise your skin (by excess vacuming).
If you have any questions about the treatment let me know!
Post # 14
@Aquaria: It certainly made it a lot worse, I am positive. My acne is worse now than it was when I was a teen, especially on my neck. It’s listed as a rare side effect but I’ve heard a number of complaints.
@Pinkmoon: Mirena could be an issue but I got that in after the lamictal started making things worse (at this point I was trying estrogen birth control for the acne/bc combo but that made my meds not work properly, so I opted for an IUD for birth control and kind of gave up messing with more meds for a while.)
I can give dairy free a shot but it’s a bit complicated with already being gluten free (which has done wonders for my digestive system I’ll tell you)
I also don’t wear makeup, I wear concealer only when seriously dressing up/taking photos, and mascara/chapstick.
I may try some of the herbal stuff you guys suggested – since tea tree oil and clay have had the best luck maybe that’s the way to go…
But if I do spring for Accutane, which I know can be a risky but very effective if you can handle it, how long after you stop does it take before your skin/body “heals” from it? It’s good to hear it doesn’t have to be super bad to be a candidate.
Post # 15
Acne is so frustrating, especially in adulthood! I know… I’ve been there. I’ve been on Spironolactone (also called Aldactone) for two years and am extremely pleased with the results. Spiro was origingally prescribed as a diurectic for those with high blood pressure and other heart conditions, but its skin clearing benefits were soon discovered. It’s now prescribed for hormonal acne in women and a number of research trials have supported its efficacy. Typical side effects include peeing more than normal, weight loss (dang, eh?), decreased oil production in skin, nausea (I experienced this for the first couple of weeks but it passed), increased breast size (according to some women), etc. Pretty good side effects if you ask me! Since being on Spiro, my skin has become much clearer (only a few tiny spots around the time of my period) and less oily, any spots that do appear go away within a day or two, and I can go a couple of days without washing my hair (I have stick straight hair and used to have it wash it every day). It is seriously a miracle drug and I am so perplexed as to why more doctors don’t prescribe it. I plan to be on this drug until it’s time to have children. You should definitely look into it. I recommend over anything else I’ve ever tried. Good luck!