Best products for Cystic Acne?

Greetings all.   I come before you with hope that someone will have a suggestion as to what over the counter treatment may work well for cystic acne?  I have seen a dermatologist for this, and they prescribed Retin-A as treatment.  However, it dried my skin out so bad that I had to discontinue after a month's use.  To get that prescription was like pulling teeth from the dermatologist, because she flat out told me that I should just go on birth control and that will solve all of my cystic acne issues. However, at this point - birth control as a form of acne treatment is not an option due to the fact that my gynecologist wants me off of it as an experiment to see if I can rid myself of other female symptoms. make a very long story short, I am at my wits end.


I understand the fact that nothing is truly going to rid me of my cystic acne, but I would be so happy to find a product that would at least shrink the ones I have a little faster, that way they aren't as painful for so long.  I spend most of my day on the phone, and nearly 10 times a day, I'm banging the receiver into my jaw and it hits a cyst and it makes me want to cry! 


As it stands now, I'm using Philosophy's Purity Made Simple, and their new On A Clear Day acne face wash.   For moisturizer, I've been using Fresh's Umbrian Clay Oil Free moisturizer.   As for spot treatment, I have PTR Acne Spot Treatment.  However, I don't feel as though this combination is aiding in riding myself of my usual acne, nor aiding in the healing of my cystic acne.


I'd be ever so happy for any suggestions ya'll might have!  Thank you!


- Jessica

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Hi missconduct, sorry to hear about what you're going through. I can definitely relate. Have you talked with your dermatologist about taking an oral Isotretinoin (Accutane, Amnesteem, Claravis, Sotret)? In severe acne cases, these are usally the last line of defense, however they require ongoing medical monitoring while taking them (typically for 6 months) to watch out for side effects. You will have to get your liver examined monthly while on an oral isotretinoin and be weary that they can cause you to experience mood disorder, which can range from minimal to severe. When I was on Accutane in college, I became severely depressed; but I managed to continue on with treatment for the 6 months I was to be on it and I no longer felt depressive symptoms once off it. Accutane permanently cleared the acne on my back and shoulders and took care of the acne on my face. Other side effects are skin dryness/redness/flaking, so make sure to use a water-based, noncomedogenic moisturizer and sunscreen (at least with spf 15). I remember my corneas (part of the eye) got dried out while on Accutane, which was helped by eye drops. This stuff is serious, so make sure you talk with your doctor about ALL possible side effects and if its appropriate for you to take. Obviously if you plan to get pregnant, stay away at all costs.


I would recommend doing the following and being disciplined with it every day: change your pillow case nightly (or alternatively, place a new towel on your pillow every night); disinfect the phone you are on daily and before each use (if you can use speaker phone, I would highly recommend that to avoid having the phone come anywhere near your face); don't touch your face for whatever reason (if you absolute have to, make sure your hands are clean); keep your hair out of your face (this includes when sleeping - pull it back and wear a head band); stay away from dairy and processed foods and foods with high sugar content (including foods with naturally high levels of sugar like pineapple) and eat LOTS of rich green vegetables - raw is a good way to go; drink 2 liters of water with some natural lemon squeezed in it daily; try the Cetaphil for all skin types cleanser; use the Origins charcoal/clear improvement face mask to draw out impurities (i'd say use it 2-3 times a week, you likely won't be able to use this if on oral isotretinoin); stick to noncomedogenic make-up (the line biodroga has an awesome tinted moisturizer, which is a great alternative to foundation); consider taking a fish oil supplement for omega 3 fatty acid, which can help keep skin irritation at bay, especially if taking medication; and try not to stress - I know that can be hard but stress can impact your hormones and can, in general, cause a whole slieu of negative health effects (it can also increase sebum production). Things like exercise can help mitigate stress.


In general, your derm is recommending birth control because she/he believes your hormones are causing your cystic acne. I've never heard of birth control being prescribed for severe acne and without doing medical testing, your doc won't know if in fact you have hormonally induced acne.


Good luck and I hope this info helps. If you decide to take an oral isotretinoin, Clarins lotus oil will act as a very good nightly moisutrizer.



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