Everything is a bandaid when you have cystic acne. You said yourself it’s hormonal and admitted to knowing that face wash won’t make a difference. While I understand not wanting to try anything oral, I would still be curious as to what your doc offer. if it’s been accutane, I understand. It’s a short term solution because you can’t stay on it for very long. I developed hormonal cystic acne with my IUD. I had it placed for medical reasons so it was that or a hysterectomy. I suggested to my derm aldactone (spironolactone) and it’s works wonders. You can stay on it long term (until you’re TTC). Just a suggestion.
Since we know hormonal acne doesn’t respond to face washes entirely, it’s more of a trial and error process. When I started to get a small pimple, I thought “cool, pop this and we’re done.” NOPE, turned the smallest thing into cystic acne. Do not touch your face. I’m sure you know that but even though I said I knew, I still tried to pop them. Took me a few years to really let that one sink in. So that’s my tip number 1 (or two if you’re a little open minded to the oral med lol).
Salt water has also been a HUGE help for me. Every night, I wash my face and then I warm up a small mug of water (i only fill the mug with about an inch of water). I prefer spring or filtered (your face is used to your water you shower in). I add a generous amount of salt and nuke it for 25 seconds. Spread on with a cotton ball and leave on for 15 mins. I rinse and do NOT wash my face. Then I do my normal routine. Seriously, 3 years of cystic acne suffering and now the aldactone and salt have resulted in me having NO cystic ance for 6 months now. I had one pimple this summer. One. I usually have 2 or 3 lumps on my face every summer for the whole summer. Can’t hurt to try the salt. Give it a week or two. I love it.
I also used to wash my face with 2 (on some occasions 3) face washes thinking it would help. Not sure if this is something you do, but I was murdering my skin. I weaned down to one and my skin has never been more healthy, supple, and young looking. I have to use benzoly peroxide. Salycitic washes just didn’t do it for me. They worked on the smaller pimples, but didn’t touch my cystic ones. I also attribute that to this Peter Thomas Roth gel. Acne clearing but also exfoliates and lightens dark marks. It isn’t fast acting, but after using it about 3 months my old acne marks are much lighter. I have one above my eyebrow that NO ONE sees. I do because I know what was once there.
I also love the philosophy clear days ahead lotion. I use it during the day and a stonger moisturizer at night as my cheeks can get very dull (combo skin).
I have used different spot treatments, and to be honest I can’t recommend just one. I mix it up every other week as my skin gets used to them for some reason. I use the spot treatment on my chin every day even if I have no acne to prevent them. So far all of this has helped. I like the panoxyl brand and I also have a prescription one.
Sunblock has always broken me out, but peter thomas roth uber dry never does. I only put it on when I’m going to be in the sun. I know with al the stuff I use I should use sun block more often, but I’m not typically in the sun (I’m very fair skinned) and I usually wear a basebell cap (way too lazy to do my hair to go to the grocery store lol). Try not to get your face tanned/burned when you have a cystic acne outbreak, it’ll make the redness stick around.
OK, sorry for my rambling but I have had people comment on how great my skin was for years throughout high school and college. Toward the end of college into my 20s, my skin was terrible. People are complimenting my skin again. Please be open minded to try some of these tips. Everyone’s skin is different but it can’t hurt tot ry. One last thing about the aldactone (I know you aid you don’t want oral stuff but): a lot of cystic acne is caused by high testosterone levels, aldactone realy helps with that.