Monday, September 14, 2015

My latest acne flare up

What caused it, What I tried, and What worked

My battle:

My face broke out bad - I mean so bad that I had some pretty disgusting white heads, I even had a giant spot with 3 whiteheads in 1 that had to be popped individually. Ew, something out of nightmares.

Can you see all the bumps that are beneath my skin?

I was completely confused, but I just shrugged it off. I was using a new serum by Peter Thomas Roth and I labelled that the culprit.

While my face began breaking out wherever there was an available spot, my stress increased along with another new issue.

I landed myself in the hospital due to horrible period cramps that left me screaming and crying in agony and confusion. What was wrong with me internally?

'Your uterus is out of place,' the E.R doctor told me with a completely confused face. Is that even a thing?
My nurse neighbor reassured me that the doctor most likely didn't know what he was looking at, because that isn't a thing.

Fast forward to 3-4 months, my general doctor ordered me off to get some tests done after hearing about my hospital episode, only to reveal I had a cyst in my ovaries half the size of my Uterus.
She further explained that it was harmless, the pain was from the cyst rupturing and what bothered me wasn't the actual rupture. The liquid from the cyst ends up being trapped behind my uterus where it's left to dissolve. And that liquid was applying pressure to my Uterus (which most likely led the E.R doctor to believe it was out of place, it was later confirmed that the only thing he found from my hospital exams was a bunch of liquid from the cyst.)
It's completely normally to get cysts during your period, but mine were far too big.  

My body's hormones were so out of whack that it was creating the problem on it's own. If I didn't get this fixed, the constant ruptures would actually cause trauma to my ovaries and eventually make me infertile. Birth control would fix it.

Around the time this happened, an article was released about a young girl about my age who died from an underlying heart condition by using birth control. This freaked me out so I tried to go the natural route... I didn't want anything to do with birth control so I went through with Western Medicine and saw a Chinese Doctor who sent me off with herbal pills.

I also ate hormone free, avoided sugar like the plague and anything that had cholesterol and different teas and exercise.

I know you're expecting an article praising Western Medicine and home remedies, but that's not what happened.
I had to take 7 (herbal)  pills  twice a day... so 14 pills. 
5 days before my period, I had to take 6 herbal pills twice a day and stop the first day of. I felt like I had a million things wrong by taking so many damn pills.

Did this work? I probably felt about 5% better during my periods, but it made no difference. 

Meanwhile, my dog got sick and had inflamed kidneys, the stress made my face freak out even more.

The esthetician I went to saw me twice in this state. The first time, she extracted as much as she could.
The second time, she realized everything was back and worse.

Everything she extracted, came right back up the next day in it's full glory. Red face, throbbing with pain... I actually took a day off. My face was hurting and I looked like I had an allergic reaction. I spent the whole day icing my face and drinking tea.

Picture of everything basically popped day of. Please excuse messed up hair, and grumpy face.

The next day at work, everyone asked what I was allergic to or what happened to my face. 
'They popped EVERYTHING!', I exclaimed, reminding myself there were bigger problems to worry about than an army of angry acne like the violent psychopath we were trying to track down.

It was time for a dermatologist to intervene, but I didn't want to go to any random one.
I sat down and looked up 'Dermatologist'... millions. At first I was overwhelmed, alot of them had great reviews.. but upon being snoopy on their webpages I was able to figure out something most would overlook. Majority of these 'award winning, famous' dermatologist seemed to specialized in anti aging procedures, with hundreds of beautiful before and after's and amazing reviews but 1-2 photos of acne patients (very very mild cases to add onto that.)

I needed to narrow my search.
'Dermatologist who specialize in acne'.
Only 2 appeared.

Funny how adding a bit of detail suddenly made my results so narrow.

How lucky was I to find a dermatologist that didn't have 4 month waiting list, and as blunt as can be.

The day of my appointment I was early (like an hour early) but I was excited yet nervous.
I sat down and explained everything..
I avoid fragrance, harsh alcohol
I tried facials, diets, BP, salicylic acid, etc.

He took a look at my face, and asked if he could take a before photo which he may show to his students at the University of Miami. (That's when you know shit's bad.)

I expected him to prescribe a cream of some sort, instead he shooked his head and told me he didn't believe in slathering on ten different creams for acne. If it keeps coming back, it needs to be tackled from the inside. I was also told to avoid facials for a while, since my acne was persistent the extractions would only end up causing trauma to my skin.

I was told I might have to go on Accutane, but we would work our way up.

But .. the catch.

He didn't let me take any single acne medication until I got on Birth Control...
I gulped.

He gave me cortisone injections, and gave me an antibiotic that would stop acne from being created and help with the infection. However, it wasn't a long term solution. The pill made me prone to yeast infections so I had to eat yogurt every time I took it and the minute I stopped the acne would return.

I thought about Birth Control at home and ended up coming to my senses. No one in my family ever suffered from acne because they all took the pill.
My mom had taken the pill for a long time and had no side effects. I also get yearly health check ups so if something was wrong with my heart I would have known... I already had 2 tests done in the same year.

I went to my Gyno who ordered more tests just for my own mental assurance, and sent me off with a generic version of Ortho Tri Cyclen (Tri Previfem). Ortho Tri Cyclen was $50/month. Tri Previfem was free. 

After a month's use, no new severe acne spots appeared. And my period cramps didn't really exist all of a sudden. People at work were asking what I was doing to my skin, and I was completely confused because a google search on Birth Control and acne had an entire forum of users preaching that it was nearly impossible to see any results on just your first month.

At my next consultation, I was sent off for a facial extraction to get rid of the left overs.

After that, all I've been getting a chemical peels to help remove the brown spots and facials.

I'm on month 3, and I have had just a spot or 2, but just milia from sweating.. nothing like before. 
I haven't had any abnormally large cysts either or horrible cramps. For the first time in years, I could actually exercise while ON my period and not end up screaming on the floor. 

Birth Control ended up being a god send for me, more than I ever thought it could. 

My dermatologist was so impressed that we did a video talking about my acne to show to his students and possibly put on his web page.

All I'm getting now are pretty much just chemical peels, 30% Salicylic acid. My journey is now clearing up my brown spots. They do annoy me because from a distance they can appear like indents but up close you can tell they are just marks.

Note: I am wearing a sunscreen here. I also just had another peel performed earlier.

So what do my ovaries have to do with this?
Well my body was telling me I had a hormonal problem, which meant I had hormonal acne.
My cysts were hormonal, and that should have been a more than enough sign to point out that my acne was too. I should have listened to my body more.

And Western medicine? Doc says it can work, but for more mild cases. It would have taken ages for it to have any effect on my hormones.

 I'm finally happy that I can drink milk, with hormones and cheese and sugar and anything else I've missed out on. I just never thought Birth Control could actually save my face, and my future babies. 


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