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.
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?
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