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Old 07-18-2008, 08:40 AM   #1
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Lizzie1980 HB User
Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

This is my first post on here. I just registered and got my account. I am hoping that the experience of the users here might help me evaluate my acne. Here is my story in a horribly-condensed nutshell:

28 y.o. female with painful, scarring cystic acne. Have been on Differin for 2.5 years - still using it but it doesn't seem to be making any difference.

As a teen, I had no acne or very little - I do not remember having trouble. Once I became sexually active around 17 y.o., I went on combined oral contraceptives. I stayed on oral contraceptives, changing brands to Yasmin sometime in 2003. I was on Yasmin approximately 2.5 years. While on Yasmin at around age 24, I began to have some mild cystic acne appear on my chin/jaw/cheeks occasionally. I also had no sex drive, apart from the period during which I was taking the sugar "break" pills to bleed.

Due to no sex drive and other stressors I stopped taking birth control pills in July 2005. I opt to monitor my own cycles and provide contraception for my relationship through natural family planning. I do not have and have no desire to have any kids. PROBLEMS START. Cystic acne lesions begin appearing 3/4 months after stopping oral contraceptives, and escalate quickly to alarming proportions. Multiple breakouts per cycle, highly oily skin, painful lumps and cysts under the skin, red scars and pock marks afterwards.

Family doctor prescribes me some oral antibiotics to see how that works. They do not help significantly.

I see a useless Dermatologist who is more interested in my Scottish heritage than he is in solving my acne. He prescribes me Differin and Evoclin to see how they do. I never use the Evoclin, but I do use the Differin. I progress through 2006 and 2007 with the same acne problems. The acne comes and goes in no particular order with no particular pattern. It is all concentrated around my chin, jaw and cheeks.

I have eliminated several things from my diet to try and control my acne, including cow's milk, peanut butter and chocolate, and for a while it seems to make a difference but then I get hit with another big breakout. I use only a Cetaphil-type cleanser, no scrubs, no harsh chemicals. The only things that get put on my face are Cetaphil, Differin and a light, water-based moisturiser. I have stopped wearing makeup.

The acne breakouts continue. They are extremely painful, red lumps which begin under the skin. They occasionally come to a head, occasionally I take a sterilized needle to them and pop them to get pain relief and allow the cyst to dry out and scab over. This seems to be the only way the lesions ever heal - if I do not pop them they stay under the skin as a lump for months.

I do have a sex drive and I am ovulating and menstruating regularly, with 26-28 day long cycles every cycle give or take. I have recently had a crop of black, thick hairs develop on my chin. Because of this, I ordered my GYN to order some hormone tests. We tested testosterone, FSH, LH, DHEAS, and one other thing I can't remember. All results came back in the "normal" range, although my DHEAS and testosterone levels (the male androgens) were on the high side of normal (but still normal).

I have noticed NO pattern in my acne breakouts. I can eat burgers and fries all week and have gorgeous skin, and then eat at home healthily and break out. I can break out on Days 1, 10, 15, 20, 25, 28 of my menstrual cycle randomly. I monitor my cycles and my acne like a hawk, and have been for three years. If I routinely broke out with PMS or ovulation - I think I would have noticed a pattern by now.

So whaddiya all think??? I would SOOOO appreciate some input here as I'm about sick to the back teeth of all this. I am 28 years old and embarassed to look like a teenager with spots, and I am sick of the way I look. I have a doting, loving husband who - bless him - doesn't care about any of this.

I also have prehypertension or stage 1 high blood pressure, which I will be seeking treatment for soon. Yes - I am aware of Spironolactone and it's anti-androgen effects. I would not mind trying it as it would treat my Bp problems too - but I am worried now about its effects on my menstrual cycle regularity. I really do not want to go back on birth control pills - mainly because of my high Bp. I would love to go on Spironolactone if I could still monitor my cycles regularly and evaluate when I ovulate in order to provide abstinence contraception for my husband and I.

HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

L.1980

Last edited by Lizzie1980; 07-18-2008 at 08:45 AM.

 
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Old 07-18-2008, 09:09 AM   #2
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AnnD HB UserAnnD HB User
Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

Why keep using and paying for stuff that doesn't work. If you haven't been tried on Accutane then try it...it is very good on cystic acne and it works! Accutane is hard on the liver so you have to monitor your blood while you are on it but it all so worth it...it is regulated period of time you have to be on it but the effects of the drug lasts for years. good luck.

 
Old 07-18-2008, 09:14 AM   #3
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Lizzie1980 HB User
Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

Thanks for the advice, but I am vehemently opposed to Accutane. Accutane is a high-risk drug that comes with high mental and physical risks attached to it. I am not prepared to put it into my body.

I'm not paying for Differin anyways - I have prescription drug coverage......but that's neither here nor there. I am more fixed on determining WHY I have this acne and what's CAUSING it, than I am about knocking it out of my system with a potent drug.

L.1980

Last edited by Lizzie1980; 07-18-2008 at 09:14 AM.

 
Old 07-30-2008, 12:06 PM   #4
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Monarch7 HB User
Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

I feel your pain! I'm a 36 year old female whose finally figured something out. I have tried everything except Accutane and was told that was my only hope. I have had cystic acne for a couple years and it was very embarrassing and painful. I've had to get a steroid shot because my eyelid was swollen from a cyst. The biggest thing that helped me was changing base makeup. I went to Merle Norman - they have a website - and got the delicate line. Their mineral powder has like 3 ingredients total and the coverage is great. I have used 3 other mineral powders and was very disappointed. They just didn't cover and it felt oily even though I have dry skin.

I have also used many face soaps and washes and fell in love with the Oil of Olay wash for sensitive skin. NO break outs.

I was desperate and ready to just fall over from the agony. I was willing to buy anything. I have not had ONE cyst since I switched just two products. Dermatologists, like any other doctors, don't know ALL about you and how your body works. Only WE know what works for us and what we have been through.

I've tried watching the foods and drinks and can also report that pizza breaks me out every time, but nothing else.

Peace to you and your new confidence...

Last edited by Monarch7; 07-30-2008 at 12:13 PM. Reason: Left out one sentence.

 
Old 07-30-2008, 02:25 PM   #5
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Lizzie1980 HB User
Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

Hey Monarch (love that name LOL!),

Thanks so much for the advice and support. Unfortunately - I do not wear makeup, so it is not makeup that is making me break out. I wish it were that simple! As for face wash - I use walmart's brand of Cetaphil cleanser which has basically nothing except water and steryl alcohol in it - so it's not that either.

In fact, here I am on day 5 of my cycle and I have just broken out with 3 new cystic pimples......I was thinking about stopping eating sweet stuff altogether and managed it for two weeks, but broke down last night and ate about ten cookies. I can't do that.

Anyways - just an update - my gynecologist called me last week after the results of my hormone blood tests came back. She wants me to come in next week for an ultrasound to screen me for PCOS!!!! I NEVER thought that I would be at risk of having PCOS - my cycles and periods are as regular as clockwork with every cycle being 26 days long give or take a day or two here or there. Anyways - according to her, my FSH and LH hormones are at an out-of-whack ratio and this could be a sign of the earlystages of PCOS.

So - next week it's off to the gynecologist - while drinking bottles of water! - to go get my ovaries checked out on ultrasound! NEVER had an ultrasound before and quite apprehensive!!!!

L.1980



Quote:
Originally Posted by Monarch7 View Post
I feel your pain! I'm a 36 year old female whose finally figured something out. I have tried everything except Accutane and was told that was my only hope. I have had cystic acne for a couple years and it was very embarrassing and painful. I've had to get a steroid shot because my eyelid was swollen from a cyst. The biggest thing that helped me was changing base makeup. I went to Merle Norman - they have a website - and got the delicate line. Their mineral powder has like 3 ingredients total and the coverage is great. I have used 3 other mineral powders and was very disappointed. They just didn't cover and it felt oily even though I have dry skin.

I have also used many face soaps and washes and fell in love with the Oil of Olay wash for sensitive skin. NO break outs.

I was desperate and ready to just fall over from the agony. I was willing to buy anything. I have not had ONE cyst since I switched just two products. Dermatologists, like any other doctors, don't know ALL about you and how your body works. Only WE know what works for us and what we have been through.

I've tried watching the foods and drinks and can also report that pizza breaks me out every time, but nothing else.

Peace to you and your new confidence...

 
Old 07-30-2008, 06:05 PM   #6
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bob2009 HB User
Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

1980. just went through this same thing with a friend . she got off yasmin the 6mo. later terrible acne. never had cystic kind before. the dermo. said yasmin masked most of it then when she got off they were worse but she was prone to them to start with. she did accutane and they somewhat went away but never completely. now they are steady coming every three weeks and maybe one good week of clearing and then they are back only to scar again. went to ny. to endo. he has written books about spiro and now she is taking 100mgs and bcp for her regulating cycle. she needs to be at 200mgs. but shes a little scared. her face is clearing up sheis on yaz too. maybe this is a betterbcp. i think this is going to be the miracle for her. she looks and feels great. you have to drink tons of water. good for her cause she was always bloated. pcos patients do great on this at 200mgs cause pcos tends to have hairloss too. she feels this is the answer even though her bloodwork(THEY SAY) is NORMAL. you can be hormone sensitive though. she did the pcos and it was normal so why? she wants to know. genetic for her but spiro is helping so much with oil and sebum.

 
Old 08-08-2008, 12:05 PM   #7
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LitS917 HB User
Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

hey-

As you may already know, everyone is different and what may work for some, may not work for another - but, I will suggest a number of products/ideas to try so you can test certain things out and see what works.

I personally think cetaphil sucks! ive tried it, and continuously made me break out... I dont know why dermatologists recommend it when there are so many other good cleansers out there.

Try out these cleanser kits : #1 - Skinceuticals #2 - Dermatologica ... you can easily look these up online and order these kits.. I personally LOVE skinceuticals.. I go to a face/skin doctor every other week for treatments and he carry's both these lines for customers. Skinceuticals is great b/c it prevents the cystic breakouts and treats them quickly... it also feels great on the face.. I use the Skinceuticals clarifying cleaser... u can just buy that if you dont have the money for the whole kit.

Do you try home-made masks? .. I usually do an egg white mask mixed with a couple drops of fresh lemon juice once a week to help tone my skin... you leave it on for about 10-15 min. and gently wash with warm water. Thats another thing to try..

Baking Soda.. when i would break out, I would mix this with some lemon juice and leave it on overnight.. hey, you gotta try everything to see what works right?!! ... i sometimes use to wash with a little bit of baking soda & water (make a paste) every other day... its keeps your skin very smooth, and alot of people try this!

** my most important suggestion : THE SMOOTHBEAM! .. this is a laser treatment highly recommended for people with any type of active acne. This is pretty expensive but you must keep up with it by going every other month. It can cost anywhere from $200-$400 a session depending on where you live. Try to find a skin laser center, or something like that. The smoothbeam treatment kinda stings, but they usually numb your face. This laser goes deep into your skin/pores and zaps away at your oily glands which create the pimples. When these glands are zapped, they stop producing oil, which stops you from breaking out! Every time i get this treatment, I wont get one single pimple for about a month or month and a half... my last treatment was on 6/24 .. it is now 8/8 and Im breaking out now.. so its time to go back!!

but i must say, the red light, and smooth beam treatment, with a microdermabrasion every now n then will significantly help ur skin.. dont waste money on alot of products, when the real problem isnt cleansing ur skin, its getting deep down to the root of the problem.

hope this helps and good luck!

Last edited by LitS917; 08-08-2008 at 12:07 PM.

 
Old 08-09-2008, 07:59 AM   #8
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pnksapphire HB User
Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

I have PCOS. The only thing that really helps me is BCP. My acne is purely hormonal. Here is what I have: ovarian cysts, oily skin, acne, and infertility. My PCOS isn't imporving with age or weight loss. I recently went to the derm and asked if I would need to be on the pill until I am 90! I am going to try a new regimen when I get back from vacation. I don't want to do anything drastic right before I leave on vacation!

Good luck!

 
Old 08-09-2008, 09:24 AM   #9
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kilgore52 HB User
Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

hi everyone! Please read about spiro on the posts. It works wonders for pcos and acne.

 
Old 08-17-2008, 09:58 AM   #10
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Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

Hi Lizzie, your problem sounds very much like mine except I began suffering from hormonal induced acne in my late 30's. For 5 years I was on minocycoline (sp) and visited the dermo regularly for injectons. In my late teens and early 20's I had very minor breakouts.

I researched "natural remedies" for adult acne and have been on this protocol for over a year now. I have seen the dermo once - this past month for two cysts which "married" to one giant blood blister on my chin area. I did get an injection which helped bring down the swelling.

I take: 1 capsule of 450 mg Saw Palmetto; 1 50 mg Zinc (watch daily zinc intake as it can be hard on the stomach - most women's diet is lacking in zinc); 1 Flaxseed oil capsule (sometimes 2 daily); one tablet of Apple Cider Vinegar and a regular daily vitamin. It took a good 2 months to get my acne under control. If I experiene a cycstic breakout I use white wine vinegar dabbed on a cotton ball to help shrink it but I haven't had to do this in 6 months.

I also use Head & Shoulders (which contains zinc) to wash my hair and I sometime wash my face with it.

I've only recently added a moisterizer to my daily regimen as I tend to have oily skin. Washing too much caused my acne to increase. I also purchased a professional extractor and have given myself some nice scars using it - I've boxed it up and put it away and only use it for "huge" cysts when I can't take the pain and need to drain (usually one in the groin area from shaving). I no longer squeeze as much as I used too and try not to touch my face and create more bacteria.

I can't recommend Saw Palmetto capsule, 50 mg Zinc, Flaxseed oil, Apple Cider Vinegar caplet enough. Plus, I try to get 7-8 of sleep.

Good luck - it's trying dealing with cystic acne. At one point, at age 40, I lost a number of family/friends in a short period. I do believe extreme stress causes flare ups - anything you can do to keep your stress manageable (exercise) should help too.

 
Old 08-17-2008, 10:21 AM   #11
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kim46 HB User
Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

PS: Having now read through the thread, I wanted to add I too was on Accutane in 30's and was not impressed and back then (15 years), they knew about the birth defects (and I did miscarry) but not about suicidal feelings, etc. I don't recall those but I also suffered from infertility. I read a book (not sure if I can post name) ..........Hormonally Vunerable Woman.............very good and another poster I believe refers to the endo.

I wanted to underscore trying natural remedies - I never used birth control (due to infertility) but from what I have read Yaz could be helpful in your situation. I diagnosed a friend of my child as having PCOS which I have researched to years as my sisters suffer from it.

I do believe all acne is a hormonal imbalance (men & women), specifically high levels of testoserone for me. It sounds like you have done your reseach - good luck again.

 
Old 09-09-2008, 12:21 AM   #12
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Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

Lizzie, I feel your pain and understand how you feel. Having acne and figuring out why you have it can be one of the most difficult things. Everybody's body is different and even doctors and scientists are perplexed as to why some get acne and some don't. You have to consider a lot of things - diet, stress, hereditary - things you already know. I don't have a miracle cure for you, I wish I did. I'm 42 and have acne off and on since I was 12 years old. My dermotologist perscribed everything known to man and I'd still break out. I was opposed to going on Accutane, but finally after being desperate and deeply (I'm talking DEEPLY) depressed about my face, I studied up on the drug and finally took the plunge. My doctor monitored me closely the entire time I was taking it. I am happy to report that I had no major side effects (other than dry eyes and dry hands). After the 5 month treatment my face was literally transformed! People were coming up to me and asking me what I was doing to my skin because they thought it looked so nice - even my boss. She called me into her office one day (I thought I was in trouble when she asked me to close the door behind me - lol) and she asked me what I had done cosmetically (as in surgical) to my face cause she wanted to do it. My skin stayed clear for many, many years afterwards and my depression over my acne totally lifted. I found myself actually confident to look people in the eye for the first time in my adult life! I know you said you were totally opposed to Accutane and I TOTALLY understand that. I was too. Whether or not to take Accutane is a huge decision that should never be made on a whim. I actually have taken it twice in my life. I took it again at age 37 or 38 and had the same wonderful results. My skin is not perfect now by any means; I still get a cystic pimple here and there (not fun!) but for the most part I am clear - nothing like what I used to suffer. I get physicals yearly and my blood work always comes back completely normal - even my liver enzymes and triglycerides. I know there are a lot of Accutane horror stories out there as well, but no one talks about the success stories so that's why I am posting this. Please don't think I am pushing anyone to get this treatment. Everybody's skin is different and it's definitely a personal choice between you and your doctor. A few other things before I write a book here - Have you considered a IPL therapy for your acne? It's an alternative to taking meds that might harm your body, but a little pricey. Also, be sure to drink LOTS of water to help flush out any toxins that could be contributing to your breakouts. Stay away from refined sugar as much as you can also. For a cleanser, I use Neutrogena Rapid Clearing Oil reducing wash (it's in an orange tube - Target, Walmart, any drug store should have it) and I also use Clinque Clarifying lotion to mop up any extra oil. I actually use it before AND after I wash my face. For touch ups when I get zits I used 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide (they make 10% but it's way too harsh!) Anyway, I hope you find the treatment that's best for you. I really do. I totally understand the frustration of having acne. Life is just seems happier for some reason when you have a clear complextion!

Last edited by velvetblue22; 09-09-2008 at 12:24 AM.

 
Old 07-08-2009, 11:46 PM   #13
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KaraKaraKara HB User
Re: Painful cystic acne, 28 y.o. female, HELP!

Lizzie--- was it found that you in fact have PCOS?

Last edited by KaraKaraKara; 07-08-2009 at 11:46 PM.

 
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