Hi, my name is Toni. I have suffered from cystic acne for over 10 years now. Ironically it began shortly after I started my first job as newly licensed esthetician. I know exactly what is happening but I am powerless in defense.
It usually starts as one impacted follicle & within a week or so, erupts below the surface, infecting up to 4 or 5 other follicles, creating a huge painful nodule. They can take up to a month to surface & when they do the amount of active (green) infection that I usually extract can reach up to what I would consider about 1/2 tablespoon. I baby my skin so as to prevent scarring as much as possible & I never extract them until they've already ruptured on their own, sometimes coxed by a hot compress. In the past my dermatologists have treated the active cysts with cortisone injections straight into the lesion.
The pain is so bad & my frustration level with this has gotten so high that I typically just get really depressed, cry, & hide out until it's gone. Any recommendations would be appreciated from the bottom of my heart.
Here is what I have tried,
Tetracycline, Doxycycline, Dynican (may have spelled this one incorrectly), Amoxicillin
ACUTANE: Twice, second round I had adverse effects & had to discontinue use
Currently: 1% Clindamycin mixed with 5% Benzoyl Peroxide. Cleansing & moisturizing with Cetaphil
In the past: RETIN-A
Over the counter: Proactive, Murad acne system, FRESH Umbrian clay treatment, DDF Acne treatments & many, many others
Bach Flower essences "Rescue Cream" (to draw out infection)
Apple cider vinegar (organic) as a toner
Apple cider vinegar supplements
I wash my face twice daily & try my best to take really good care of it.
As of recently the breakouts most often occur on my chin area. I just turned 30 not to long ago so I'm wondering if hormones are to blame for the frequent surge in breakouts. Over the last 10 years they sort of come & go, just when I think I've found the right regime or even better possibly grown out of it, BAM huge painful cyst to remind me my troubles still exist. I am not currently taking birth control as my husband has had a vasectomy but I am more them willing to try them if that is still considered to be a good option. Although I have to say in my early 20's birth control did little to nothing to help my acne. I was on pills, patches, shots & trans-vaginal rings.
I spent years in the skin care industry with a true passion for helping people with their skin. I believe in a lot of ways I was meant to do so. After I got licensed I not only broke out with cystic acne but I also began having bouts of plaque psoriasis. I tried to help others to not fell ashamed of their skin & to know that they can & should reach out to others....
My sympathy is with you. I too have suffered cystic acne. My best advice. Stop washing your face. Just pat lukewarm water on it and pat dry. No rubbing. Do not use any oils, astringents, soap - don't use anything on your face. Avoid sunburn. When a cyst bursts, disinfect only that area. Avoid stimulating your face for any reason whatsoever.
My advice will not cure your condition, but, if you react the way I do, it will keep it as quiet as possible. I scarred. Then I had dermabrasion (not chemical -sandpaper). You can do this when the case is still active. It works very well.
Tony, I feel for you! I want to help as best I can.
You mentioned that your cystic acne started when you became an esthetician - is your job stressful? I've seen a few studies that suggest that stress is a HUGE cause of acne, as it triggers your body to produce cortisol, which elevates inflammation and makes cystic acne nodules very large and painful.
Also, have you experimented with diet at all? My acne never went away until I read a few books about acne + diet, and learned that diet actually has EVERYTHING to do with acne (unlike what doctors tell you). After I cut out gluten and dairy and sugar my skin started to clear up instantly, and my acne returns whenever I eat these things.
Finally, omega-3 fats (through fish oil) can serve as a short-term solution - if you start taking those in high doses (completely safe), you could see a major improvement. Omega-3s reduce inflammation a HUGE amount, and regulate skin cell overproduction (one of the causes of blocked follicles).
Let me know if you've tried diet or stress reduction or any of these things - I was truly amazed by how much of an effect diet had on my own acne. This idea seems to be gaining momentum too, as more studies are done on it.
The sad truth is that some cases of acne simply can't be cured. They can be made worse, but they cannot be made better. I tried diet, tested for allergies, tried this treatment, that treatment, and on and on. Nothing worked. The best thing to do was to do nothing. The more I meddled the worse it got. But I was a good candidate for dermabrasion and got rid of lots of scarring. And as for the psychological aspect of acne - that is just a cop out for not being able to provide a cure. "It's all in your head, honey." I don't buy it.
Hopefully Toni 1981 does not have my bad luck. But if she does, then dermabrasion is the light at the end of the tunnel.
I cant thank you enough for taking the time to respond. I also believe less is more, when I stopped using harsh cleansers, toners & serums, my skin got better and less oily on the whole. I will definitely keep dermabrasion in mind, although my scarring is minimal I swear even older scars seem to be getting larger as I age so I will inevitably need resurfacing one day soon here. I'm happy to know that the dermabrasion is helpful and doesn't stimulate it or make it worse. Thank you again!
Thank you very much for your response, taking the time & caring.
I wish I could blame stress but I seem to get these monstrosities stressed or not darn it. I am open to the suggestion of changing my diet, in fact I have actually just recently tried to switch over to healthier eating habits in general. I've dabbled in the gluten free stuff but never considered dairy as a possible problem. I just started seriously minimizing my sugar intake, eating lots of fresh fruits & veggies & limiting anything that seems processed or contains preservatives. I love milk so that may be a serious bummer if it's to blame! I would love to know what books you recommend.
I just started taking Vitamin D (I recently read in another forum people are finding it helpful for acne), Calcium & a Multi-Vitamin. I'm going to get some Omega-3 today, any suggestion of how much to take? I'm very petite and weigh around 90lbs.
I am glad I was helpful. Even when the truth is unpleasant, knowing it helps you decide on the right course of action. (And also keeps you from wasting money.)
Many years ago I went to a famous but eccentric dermatologist for a skin condition in my ears that caused repeated infections. He took one look and said, "I have seen this dozens of times before. It is completely incurable." That was a blow, but also a relief. When I asked him how much his fee was. He said, "Nothing. I am unable to help you." I couldn't make him take any money and he told me to take the money and buy myself a pretty dress.
i also suffer from acne and have for the last 10 or more years, i recently realized there is hidden deeper issues that i have to sort out, 1) my eating issues, i used to be anorexic and now seem to eat more for fear of not having nice treats ever again and eating quickly, this obviously puts immense stress on my body, digestive system, liver and kidneys, and they are not capable of getting rid of toxins properly , so it comes out of the largest organ my skin. so over eating is never easy for the body and mind, crates feeling of guilt and general dirtiness. i think there is a reason for your cysts and perhaps looking out the box may help, concentrate on how they make you feel and what else makes you feel that way there must be a link, and a way to become aware and able to change the pattern or way of being
My skin is still scared and inflamed, i know now that what i really need to do is be gentle on my body, i have tried all the above, roaacutaine, topical, acupuncture, everything u can think of, but am 100 percent sure the least u mess with your skin the better, pure soap, no chemicals
( natural) or even no washing is great, u could even try dry brushing( but not over the pimples) this will stimulate circulation to help healing and get rid of dead skin cells.
another product which i am going out to buy tomorrow is a Bach flower remedy, i don't know if it will apply to you as these remedies are based on emotions and feeling, but crabs apple it seems is exactly what i need.
“This is the remedy of cleansing. For those who feel as if they have something not quite clean about themselves. Often it is something of apparently little importance: in others there may be more serious disease which is almost disregarded compared to the one thing on which they concentrate. In both types they are anxious to be free from the one particular thing which is greatest in their minds and which seems so essential to them that it should be cured. They become despondent if treatment fails. Being a cleanser, this remedy purifies wounds if the patient has reason to believe that some poison has entered which must be drawn out.” - Dr. Edward Bach
i really hope this helps and please let me know how u doing? im here if u need to vent or just need advise, i have to say i am in a way grateful for my pimples, they have pushed me into expansion and forced me to be aware. still would like them to heal now, but i'm going to be patient see how it flows, all the best x s
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