Let’s Talk: Acne

Let’s Talk is a type of post I hope to revisit with some frequency. The topics here will only be tangentially related to the usual topics approached on my blog, but will be something that is of importance or affects me directly that I feel is worth talking about. With that out of the way…

Acne. Spots. Zits. Pimples. If you find this type of topic or talk about birth control makes you squeamish, I recommend you look away from this post now. If you’re curious about what I look like (mostly) without makeup, keep reading.

Like most people, I’ve been dealing with acne since I hit puberty. Puberty came down on me like a tonne of bricks when I was about 11 and I didn’t really grow into myself until about 18. I had the usual puberty-esque acne until my early 20s, where I assumed it had gone for good. As I’m sure you’ve guessed as this would make a boring blog otherwise, this was not the case.

The only thing I can really attribute this change to is experimenting with birth control. I’ve been on birth control for health reasons (which I won’t go into here) since I was 12, but for I’ve changed my birth control method a few times over the last few years. I had nothing more than a few spots or blackheads here and there until I switched from the pill to Mirena. Mirena was suggested to me by my doctor after I had surgery for endometriosis (a talk for another time) and the thought of long-term contraceptive was appealing, so I gave it a go. Aaaaand had it taken out less than a year later. There were lots of unpleasant side effects for me, but one of the biggest ones was cystic acne.

Cystic acne, if you’re unfamiliar, is essentially a pimple that sits really deep under your skin. You get a swollen red bump that is possibly itchy or painful, has no head, is filled with pus and often scars even if you absolutely leave it alone. If you’re unlucky enough to have the cyst burst or you’re bad at leaving your zits alone (like I am), it can cause infections or more breakouts.

Lucky me, at age 25, I now get recurring breakouts of whiteheads and cystic acne despite no longer having the Mirena and going back to another method of birth control that didn’t give me acne. So after the latest breakout, I decided I was mad as heck and I wasn’t going to take it anymore. So here it is. This is what I look like (mostly) without makeup. Apologies for the bad eye makeup, I didn’t put on any bases that I normally use.

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This is what I look like a couple of weeks post-breakout (also surprise, I have freckles). You can see the scarring and a couple of spots around my chin, jawline and cheeks. This was the breakout that broke the camel’s back for me. So I got on the phone and booked a dermatologist appointment with the Skin Institute.

There are a few things that cause acne. Increased sebum production (that lovely shiny skin grease), abnormal shedding of skin cells clogging the pores and/or an abnormal amount of acne bacterium on the skin (Proprionic Bacterium Acnes), which leads to inflammation and acne. My dermatologist’s current theory is that I have the abnormal amount of acne bacterium. Everyone has this bacteria on their skin, but some people have the ideal amount of sebum for these bacteria to really reproduce which leads to more acne.

So I have weird bacteria on my face, now what?

I’m currently taking a round of oral antibiotics that lasts for three months to try and get these bacteria under control. So cool, pop a pill, no more zits, right?

Not exactly.

These pills (Doxine/Doxycycline) comes with a number of weird side effects, including acid reflux and sensitivity to sunlight, and you have to take it with a large glass or water, soon after eating and you can’t take it within two hours of taking antacids, calcium or iron tablets. And after aaaaaaaall that, there’s no guarantee it’ll help. I was given this medication on the assumption I have an unusual amount of the acne bacteria, but we don’t have evidence of this. There’s a chance I’ll get to the end of the three month dose and there’ll be no change.

Plus another great side effect is, in some cases, it might make my acne worse before it makes it better.

But these are all side effects and risks I’m currently willing to take. I’ve only had my prescription for two weeks, so I’ll be sure to check back in once I’m further through. Next time I talk acne, we’ll talk my current skincare routine.

Have you ever had acne? If you did (or do), did it get to the point where you went to a dermatologist? How did you deal with it?

Lots of love,
Mrs Greatnews xx

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18 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Acne

  1. Hannah says:

    I totally empathise with this. I’ve been through a very similar experience and am now in my 30’s. Acne runs in my family. I did a course of isotrotin in my early 20’s and since hitting my mid 30’s my skin has flared up again. I’m currently finishing up a new course of Isotrotin when the Pill and antibiotics didn’t work. Fingers crossed my skin doesn’t regress when I go off the isotrotin this time.

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  2. Mab says:

    I used to get the worst hormonal cystic acne around my lips, my jaw line and occasionally my cheeks. So, so fricken painful. I only get the odd one once in a blue moon, which I put down to getting really into skincare after discovering Caroline Hirons’ blog, and twice daily use of either glycolic or lactic acid exfoliant. And probably sheer luck. Acne is such a horrible crapshoot, particularly when you chuck hormones into the mix as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mrsgreatnews says:

      Yeah, for sure. Each person’s chemistry is so unique, it’s really hard to pin point what exactly is reacting to what! I’m much better with my skincare routine than I was, so fingers crossed that that and the meds help! ❤

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  3. Toni Rogers says:

    Heya Libby. Opposite to you I don’t wear make up, so when I had a major outbreak of perioral dermatitis (Google that one) I nearly died. My GP was useless and then laughed when I went back and showed her how bad it got. I finally got a referral to a dermatologist too. I went on some drugs (can’t remember the name now). I also had a reduced burn time. 3 minutes and I could feel the burn start.
    Good luck with your meds. I’m guessing you’ve had to review makeup products and skin care routines religiously?

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    • mrsgreatnews says:

      Hey Toni, oh Jesus that’s so awful! Thank goodness you found a dermatologist that could help. My skincare regime is currently recommended by the same place I’m going to and I’ve been on it for a few months now with some improvements, but no change in acne yet.

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  4. Rachel at Petals and Petticoats says:

    I’ve suffered with acne since the age of 11, but last year, following some diagnosis’, I had a HUGE break out of severe cystic acne. I managed to get it under control, but one part of me learning to accept that having adult acne isn’t shameful, was stopping the full face of make up. I still cover the scars and pimples sometimes but day to day, I let my skin breathe and it’s honestly helped so much more, too. The scars are even fading really nicely.

    I’ve written half the blog post on this already, so I really ought to finish it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mrsgreatnews says:

      That’s fantastic! I really should ease up on the makeup a bit more. Maybe find a nice BB cream for daily stuff? I also need to take a better mindset when it comes to my acne. It shouldn’t be shameful. It’s just something that happens.

      I’d love to read your post, I hope you finish it!

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  5. Abby says:

    I have had terrible acne since I was about 13. I tried almost everything except for going to a dermatologist. The only thing that I have found to help me is Rodan + Fields Unblemish. It works miracles! My skin has not looked this good in years! I would give it a go if I were you. They even have a 60-day money back guarantee (that’s what made me decide to try it).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jenny says:

    Those meds sound super scary, I would recommend doing some reasearch on holistic options because even something as simple as a change in the foods you’re eating can have an amazing effect on your skin and trying things like that will likely mean lots of benefits for your whole body instead of a list of risky side effects. xXx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lorilei says:

    My skin was never tooooo bad, until I hit my early 20’s. I also had a Mirena implanted for endo, but never thought to connect it with my acne, although after reading this, it explains a lot! I tried doxy twice for my acne, but both times it came back not long after finishing the course. I visited the Caci clinic, and they told me they couldn’t do anything except offer Accutane, which I flat out refused. I suffered with my cystic acne for years, and the only thing that cleared it up was getting pregnant! My son is 18mths now, and I’ve started getting it back again, but nowhere near as bad. Doctors also told me pregnancy would help with my endo, but I’m pretty sure that’s back again now too. Oh well, can’t win em all!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kiya Gould says:

    I FEEL YOU. i have cystic acne. its the worst! i was put on doxy but had an allergic reaction so came off it pretty quick. i was so down about it i bit the bullet and paid to see a private dermatologist. I am now taking roaccutane. its got a lot of negative side effects but not as bad as i thought. i hope you find something that works for you? x

    Liked by 1 person

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