There are probably thousands of different ‘acne solutions’ on the market. But which actually work, and how to differentiate from the ones that just claim to be a ‘magical potion’ for acne?
So, continuing from my last post in this series, in the doctor’s appointment she decided to start me on a course of retinoids. Initially, she was going to give me a stronger type of retinoid but as I reiterated my skin is very sensitive, she figured that this medication should do the trick. And if not, she told me to come back, so she could give me stronger retinoids alongside antibiotics. I wanted antibiotics off the bat, that’s mainly why I attended this first appointment, but it was like getting blood from a stone, so all I left with was a prescription for a gel – Epiduo.
The side effects coming from “just” a gel really weren’t great. “Difficulty breathing and blistering” are just a few stated on the leaflet. My mum didn’t want me to start using a retinoid as she knows how sensitive my skin is, and the severity my other skin conditions have displayed. So it was hard starting a medication that could potentially help my acne if my mum was against it. Basically, I’d be doing it alone, and if anything goes wrong, I knew a “I told you so,” would be right around the corner. But after more than half a year of these spots appearing, I wanted them gone!
Side note: before I tried Epiduo gel, I tried everything else I had access to at home. As I’ve visited dermatology many times about my other conditions, I accumulated a range of creams. Whether that’s anti fungal, steroids, fusidic acid, anti-biotic cream with steroids in – trust me, your girl tried everything! Much to no avail! So this should give an insight into the ‘Enough is Enough’ mentality I had!
From day one, being on this gel wasn’t great. I did suffer from some skin stinging, and reddening. The Dr did say it may sting a bit so it was expected. By about day 3, I notice the worsening of the stinging and reddening, I look online to see if other people suffered the same symptoms, and to read through their reviews of this gel, so I continue using Epiduo as I saw some people encountered the same side effects. Some had to stop using it even! I thought I’d still give it my best shot, as my skin was meant to purge after using the gel for at least a couple of weeks.
I make it to day 5 where the pain and reddening becomes unbearable. It would last for hours a time. I would have to nap to get away from the pain, and even then, I’d wake up shortly after, to the same pain! My skin looked like it had been burned, like I’ve been sunbathing in 40 degree celsius heat since last year. I couldn’t even fathom touching my face, as it’d make the pain worse. I thought about stopping, but I’m trying to be a good sport. After all, I’ve been on through so many treatments, with stinging and pain being just a tiny factor, I thought I could handle this. Let me tell you, this is like walking in a fire, with no escape door.
By day 6, my skin became so fiery red and sore, I couldn’t continue anymore. I could only liken this gel to acid being thrown in your face. I wish I was over-exaggerating. The severe burn sensation become so bad, I couldn’t do or watch anything. I even found it hard to nap as the pain wouldn’t let me!
For me, the pain and redness intensified over time, when initially, yes it was there but it was a fraction of what it turned into. It’s like it accumulated over time. My skin refused to get used to the retinoid, so overall the side effects worsened. I’ve heard initially on the first days, you might feel burning etc, but that shouldn’t last long, and a few days after your skin should take to it much better. It’s like my skin worked in reverse. It was just getting worse. And I HATE quitting any form of treatment, even if the effects are bad, but Epiduo was something else for me. FYI as Epiduo contains benzoyl peroxide, it bleaches EVERYTHING! Sheets, towels you name it, it’ll bleach it. Even when you think it’s all washed off, it bleaches your clothing. I mean, who needs that in their life?!
I couldn’t see my usual dermatologist for a few months since she wasn’t available. I saw the WORST dermatologist, who just gave me another anti fungal cream that DIDN’T WORK. Didn’t even touch the surface, and her attitude was very nonchalant. Giving me wrong advice about many things. I actually had to complain about countless things she said in that appointment because it was unprofessional on another scale. Plus, she gave me a cream I was already severely allergic to, I remind her that I am, but she just says, “Try it anyway.” But back to my story!
After using anti fungal cream once again, my acne turned into these teeny tiny spots that were in their hundreds, commonly known has ‘Comedonal Acne’. Before I was suffering from pustules, papules, pimples etc. This changed into these small spots that usually didn’t have a head even though sometimes they did, they were just about popable, but if I popped them it’s make them 10X worse and literally 10 more of them would come if I just tried to get one off my skin! So I just left them alone but needed to get these annoying mini spots that’ve found their home on my forehead, gone for good!
I didn’t trust the sit in GP I saw last time as to be honest, they gave me this gel when it states it shouldn’t be given to anyone suffering from eczema. I have eczema plus other skin conditions, so I could only trust myself at this point. I retried all the creams that failed me – and they surprisingly failed me again. I tried just not applying any medical creams to my face and just washing it with either plain water, or a VERY gently cleanser – still nothing. So like anyone in urgent need of a wonder drug – I turn to google!
I obviously wasn’t going to buy tablets or anything, but with all else failing, my mind was open to trying alternative treatments that have worked for many people. Like AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid). BHA penetrates further into the skin, and works by getting all the gunk from deep within your pores towards your skin surface so spots can heal. AHA doesn’t work beyond the skins surface and is only water soluble so I knew BHA should work better. BHA is also oil-soluble so it’s best suited to more oily, spot-prone acne. And lastly it gets rid of all the dead skin cells, and makes your skin cell turnover faster, so your skin can heal more! So I do my research and the one that keeps coming up trumps is Paula’s Choice Skin perfecting 2% BHA liquid exfoliant (it’s always sold out but I managed to get one, so keep your eyes peeled for whenever these shops restock).
Now, I was very hesitant, Reason being is that I don’t ever buy skincare online. I’m dermatology only. But desperate times called for desperate measures and many people claimed it cleared their acne that wouldn’t budge using anything else. I tried it for around 1.5 – 2 months. Which is more than enough time to see results. And my final outcome was that, it did help. It didn’t make my acne go away completely, but what I would say is that it minimalised the hundreds of spots and texture I had. Before my forehead was like a cobble road, but afterwards it was almost like tarmac that hadn’t been flattened yet. I had smaller spots that I still hated, but not as much as the larger spots.
Don’t get it twisted, it was still pretty obvious I had acne/skin texture underneath makeup or without makeup, but it wasn’t like you could see it a mile off. So it was workable. It’s kind of drying so it mattifies the intense shine acne sufferers usually have, but its not extremely drying so your skin is literally flaking off. It mattifies your skin just enough so you can apply makeup above it. As when I was on Epiduo, I didn’t wear makeup for at least a month after, I physically couldn’t. With the constant flaking and honestly my skin was so bad on Epiduo, I knew I couldn’t even think about wearing makeup for a while after. It would’ve just looked terrible. But with Paula’s Choice, I could still do that, and even without makeup, my acne didn’t look as bad.
As my dermatology appointment was approaching, I’m undoubtedly excited. As I think, surely there must be something for me! My acne is hopefully going to be a distant memory (or nightmare). Also a lesson that I’M NEVER HAVING STEROIDAL INJECTIONS AGAIN! I wouldn’t be in this acne dilemma if it weren’t for those useless injections – in my case anyway.
In my next post, I’m going to divulge what my secret wonder medication for acne is, and I still use it religiously to this day! For sensitive skin like mine and that actually works to get rid of your acne once and for all – without all the nasty side effects!
Have you tried any of the products mentioned above? Are you an acne sufferer? Are these posts helpful? Are you in a similar situation, looking for treatment that may work? Comment below!