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My long-term battle with acne

While this post is not going to be easy to write (I don’t think anybody likes to admit that they are spotty do they?) I have been inspired to share my experiences of acne after seeing on Twitter how upset a fellow blogger was by her skin problems.

I can’t remember exactly when I started suffering from acne but it was at some point in my teenage years, as is the case for so many people.  I would suffer on my face, mostly on my chin but sometimes on other areas like around my nose and my forehead, but I also got this across the back of my shoulders and down my back, mostly down around my spine.  I also can’t remember how bad it was back then but I hated it and remember trying several long-term courses of antibiotics and various different prescription gels and creams which did not seem to do very much.

When the doctor thought I was old enough for it to be acceptable I was put on the contraceptive pill.  I don’t know if people are aware of this but well as being a contraceptive some pills are used to regulate hormones to help with acne.  Going on the pill actually worked really well and cleared up most of my acne apart from the occasional breakout.  To this day I have remained on the pill (I am now 30) partly because I’m scared of what will happen if I come off it.

Something which people often said to me was ‘you will grow out of it’ which in the past most people appeared to believe.  However more recently it has been reported that women in particular are not ‘growing out’ of acne and some who have never suffered with acne before are now starting to suffer in their 20’s and 30’s. 

As I said since going on the pill my skin has remained mostly clear apart from occasional breakouts which I know are related to many factors such as stress and hormones.  However more recently I started to suffer again on my chin.  I would get really quite bad breakouts which would take weeks for me to try and get under control.  Once I had got it under control my hormones would cause a new breakout and I was stuck in a cycle where around 75% of the time I was suffering.  I tried various medicated products such as Freederm but always tend to find that despite being quite expensive these type of products do very little (although these products are aimed at mild to moderate acne and may well work for milder cases).

Then one weekend my boyfriend and I went back to his parent’s for a few days for a birthday or anniversary which included a party for some of the family at his sister’s house.  At the time I was suffering from a really bad breakout and over the time we were away it got worse and worse.  I tried to cover it with make up but it was so bad it was really hard to cover.  I felt awful and really did not want to go out in public but I had no choice so most of the time I sat with my head tilted down or with my hand half over my face to try and cover it.  After a few days I actually had to start taking painkillers because it was starting to ache so I decided when I got home I needed to get to the doctors.

When I got to the doctors I was devastated to be told that I had got impetigo, which is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection.  I was given antibiotics and told I needed to be careful not to pass it on by using separate towels etc to anyone I lived with.  Finding out I had impetigo hit me really hard and I really did feel disgusting and to be honest, ashamed.

I thought being on the antibiotics for this would possibly help clear up my skin again however I then again fell back into the cycle of pretty much constantly having breakouts which took so long to clear up.  I was so upset about it I decided to head back to the doctors and ask if there was anything I could try and do to clear it up. He gave me another course of antibiotics but also a prescription cream called Duac.

Now I know some people would be very vary of trying a cream such as this but I wanted to describe my experience of using Duac so if other people are suffering as badly or as constantly as I did they can make an informed decision as to whether to try this or not.  Before I continue I will just say that I do have sensitive skin.

Duac contains Benzoyl Peroxide (you can find out more about Benzoyl Peroxide on the Wikipedia page here) which as the name suggests is a type of peroxide.  You do have to be careful with this product as it can obviously burn skin and can also bleach hair and coloured fabrics (as one of my mum’s towel’s found out!).
On the tube it says it may take 4-6 weeks for the product to be fully effective and I am aware from previous acne products that these things take persistence and long-term use before you see any improvement.  So the first night I applied this while as usual suffering from a reasonably bad outbreak and was pretty much astounded to wake up in the morning and find that the outbreak had significantly improved overnight.  A couple more uses and my skin was virtually clear.  Some people may think I am slightly exaggerating when I say this but this product is pretty much a miracle worker!

I continued to use this every night as directed by my doctor but then did notice one morning that my skin had got slightly burnt.  The doctor did say that if I did have a reaction to only use this every other day but as my skin was now completely clear I stopped using this completely.

I am pleased to report that now the majority of the time my skin is clear and I just occasionally get breakouts if I’m particularly stressed or because of hormones.  If a breakout doesn’t respond to more natural or less harsh treatments then I go back to Duac and just use a small amount every other night and within a few days it has cleared again. 

I hope that this post may have helped other sufferers in some way and that I may have been able to reassure other people with sensitive skin that you can turn to a treatment like this and use it successfully without necessarily having to suffer any harsh effects.

The Little Blog of Beauty x
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