Monday, October 19, 2009

My acne fight!

This will be my 1st long post yet…coz I really wanna share all the knowledge I know about developing acne and treating them (through my personal experience). So let’s get right into it:

Skin condition history:

Well, you probably wouldn’t believe it but I was never this fair and I quite enjoyed my time in the sun back in high school. It was also through my junior years in high school that I didn’t have any problems with my skin until I realized I was starting to breakout in my senior years. This was quite normal I guess but it was only the occasional zits here and there (big sore red ones too) but nothing you can’t handle (with an added bit of teasing~~~~). When I was 16 I suddenly didn’t have any more acne problems to deal with because I was going through some medical treatments which prevented me from breaking out…it was a couple of years I got to enjoy flawless skin woo hoo… Once I started recovering and got into uni it was about my 3rd year there that I started to breakout once again… this time it’s worse, I originally thought it was due to stress, bad eating habits and lack of sleep caused by my studies. And since I didn’t have the time to really deal with it I did the best I can back then to conceal all the spots but it just got worse… I recently graduated from uni and thought my bad skin days would be gone soon… but you wouldn’t believe it the acne condition got worse than when I was studying~~~ what the indeed…. My acne regions were along my jaw line, my chin and my two cheek areas. The worst was probably my chin it would get so sore and red that it would be difficult to talk as any movement was just too painful.

My previous treatments:

Ok, so I started caring for my skin when I was a teen in order to prevent such bad events of severe acne but I failed… If there is anything out there that claims to fight or prevent acne…believe me I’ve tried them all. Let’s list them: facial treatments, IPL, microdermabrasion, topical solutions (sorta alcohol like), a great skincare routine, eating a healthy diet, sun protection, drinking heaps of water, tried mineral makeup, antibiotics, taking the pill with acne fighting ingredients in it, fruit extract juices (packed with antioxidants), dietary supplements which helps heal skin conditions (eg. Evening primrose capsules), sleeping early, trying to relax and not cause any more anxieties or stress, oil blotting…. You name it and I’ve tried it guess I was desperate for an answer. Here’s is where I think I should mention my younger sister who suffered severe acne in high school, went to see the dermatologist and was on the Oratane treatment (exactly the same as Roaccutane or Accutane). As the acne was spreading from her face to her chest and back… It’s now completely gone and she has great skin … baby smooth actually so that definitely worked for her… But I wasn’t convinced about giving this a try until it was my last resort. And yep, I was pretty much at my wit’s end by now as I haven’t had a break from acne for years (never had a break from pain on my face) and whether I was going through my menstrual cycle or not it just didn’t matter it was just continuous and annoying… With all the bad side effects I’ve heard about the strong drugs for fighting acne, I was really reluctant to go on them but there was no choice…But only if you have tried absolutely everything you can, including changing your lifestyle, only then can you start to consider consulting your GP about such treatments as Oratane.

What is acne?

I know many gurus or bloggers have addressed this question but here’s my take on it from what my docs have told me. Acne develops from the oil producing glands under the surface of the skin, there is no problem having slightly oily skin because there is a purpose for it. It is the oil that is produced which flows to the surface of the pores at the same time taking away the dead skin cells along the walls of the pores (and that’s a good thing). However, when excess oil is being produced and is mixed with dead skin cells it clogs up the pore and nothing is able to escape hence turning into pimples. Yep, you’re right for a couple of years I have been noticing that my oil glands are producing more and more oil and clogged pores meant heaps of black and whiteheads~~ ewww.. I know… But it’s the truth. In terms of other causes of acne well puberty is the one we all know about (but I’m way past that stage now), genetics is another reason (if your close relatives were and are suffering severe acne then it’s likely that you would too), if you have sensitive skin then makeup or working in a greasy environment may be the causes. My dermo couldn’t figure out my exact cause but it probably has something to do with genetics and hormonal issues. (Below is a picture I took of the information pamphlet my doc gave me).

Ok, I’m no expert about this whole acne business but I’m still going through it now in my 20s because previous medical treatments in my teen years have delayed my acne fight till now…what a bummer~~~ just when you have to come out and face the world hahahhaaha

My Oratane treatment:

Just to be clear you can’t just start such strong medication for acne just coz you want to. You have to prove that you’ve tried all the other antibiotics and creams by your local GP before getting referred to a specialist. I’m not lying when I say that I was worried and nervous about starting this whole Oratane business (I really wanted it to go away on its own) coz there are a list of side effects to worry about. I was on some antibiotics which weren’t working anymore against acne, and had to immediately stop taking them before starting my Oratane treatment (because the clash of the two will make your brain swell~~~), blood tests had to be done prior to starting the Oratane as well to see if you have liver problems, cholesterol issues and other major health problems and your BMI has to be within the healthy level too. One thing to remember is that once you start the meds the acne actually gets worse before it gets better… so the 1st few weeks may be difficult with all the sudden breakouts.

Side effects of Oratane:

Oratane works by reducing the amount of oils being produced by the oil glands which in turn reduces the amount of bacteria in the skin that causes acne. Hence, the first side effect everyone will experience is dryness everywhere in the body…and I mean everywhere (so moisturizing is terribly important). Your skin will also be sun sensitive (which is bothersome coz Summer is coming~~~) which means sun protection is crucial. Oratane may cause joints and muscles in the body to be in pain and you may experience a degree of tiredness as well. Pregnant ladies or women planning to be pregnant shouldn’t take this medication because it cause irreversible birth defects, and you cannot get pregnant immediately after your treatment until you pass a period of time where the levels of Oratane has completely left your body. There are also certain skin conditions or infections to consider, most with Asian complexion are born or prone to suffering from eczema and the Oratane can aggravate that condition and cause it to come back. That means you will have to treat for eczema and acne at the same time. My recent episode of allergic reaction (previous post) was caused by taking a higher dose of Oratane where I was covered in red and extremely itchy spots from head to toe (scary huh?). I had severe eczema as a child and the medication just made it all come back 100 times worse.

WARNING: Gross pics below!!! But it's great for contrast and if it's helped ppl like me gain my confidence back then it's the results that really tell the story (doesn't have to be flawless/ perfect BTW). This dude was photographed for the pamphlet I got given.

Ok I know the above might have scared you all… especially when I had to go through the ordeal of an allergic reaction (biopsy included to find out the cause sighZ~~~). But I’m back at it, just started my Oratane again at the lower dose which I know I have no problems with and probably won’t increase my dosage but instead stay on the treatment for longer …probably 6months to ensure nothing shocking happens again. I still have acne popping up here and there when I’m on the medicine and I don’t expect it to be gone in an instant but my previous bad habits of picking and popping the acne has caused heaps of scarring which will hopefully fade over time. My specialist did a procedure to pop my cystic acne so they won’t grow back in the same areas again (and they haven’t YAY). But it really should be done by the pros coz they know best.

Current skin condition:

Currently, while taking the Oratane…my skin has definitely dried up heaps than before not as oily as it used to be. My black and whiteheads have almost all disappeared leaving behind… my opened pores (I’ve always had clogged pores which meant it kept my pores big bleh~~~). I do get red easily if the water temperature is too warm and if the sun is directly hitting my face. My lips are especially dry and seem to crack easily if I don’t constantly apply lipbalm. I still have scaring and a couple of acne areas but the areas are shrinking which means most of the pimples have disappeared leaving behind smooth areas of skin (much better than the bumpy feeling of acne prone skin). Below is my current skin condition, prone to redness once I'm outta the shower with heaps of scars and during the day lightly covered with BBcream (only a lil there is no need for any concealer or heavy coverage). Scars can still be seen through the BBcream but honestly I don't care hahaahaaha coz it's looking heaps better than what it was before TRUST ME!!! It'll only get better from here on since I have ages to go in my treatment YAY!!!

Following from this long acne lecture with my personal experience included…I may now move onto my skincare routine which has completely changed and for good reasons coz my skin has become super sensitive and there shouldn’t be anything used on the surface to make the skin worse and prevent the medication from working within your body. Will tell you all about the restrictions to skincare and makeup if you're like me and on strong acne treatment.'

Click here for more information about acne or the Oratane treatment and ALWAYS consult your GP to see if you've exhausted all your options (including trying antibiotics for an extended amount of time) before considering the Accutane/Roaccutane like treatment.

Sorry about the word heavy post…hope it’s helpful in some way. And will keep you all updated on my acne journey hope nothing else goes wrong and I can stay on course now...


Blair said...

Awww... congrats on clearing up your skin!

♥akisa♥ said...

wow.. congrats on overcoming acne~ I get a lot of spots but not serious acne.. I have to wear a lot of foundation to cover up my scars -_-

Shanghainese Dumpling said...

Wow thanks for the detailed post and sharing about your Acne fighting experience, I know exactly how frustrated you were because I suffered BADDDDDD acne on my forehead for 2 years. but lucky i had tougher skin on my forehead so i didnt' have any scars but i still get occasional pimples here and there if i'm not eating right or during my PMS, so i've been using Mario Badescu stuff, but yeah Congrats on winning the Acne battle :)

Kalmo said...

Thanks for making such a great post about acne, it affects so many people and their self-confidence. I'm currently struggling with it myself. :(

I am super happy you found something that worked for you though! :) I need to head to the derm once I save up some money as well. ^^


Blog Template by