Skin Care

My struggle with my skin care and my nodulocystic acne.

Growing up I had great skin up until I was 16. That’s when my nightmare began.

Most teenagers have acne. Not only did I get acne, I got nodulocystic acne!

For those of you lucky people who  don’t know what cystic acne is, it is when dead skin cells get trapped in the pores and the bacteria gets clogged causing a red and swollen area. The pus is trapped so far underneath the skin that the cyst never comes to a white head.


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If the cyst does open, it spreads the infection to the entire face and neck causing cysts to form and even grow on top of each other!

I remember how bad my face would hurt every day and I would dread going to school because I knew everyone would be staring at my red bumpy inflamed face and neck. The cysts can also occur on the chest, back shoulders and arms.

I washed my face multiple times a day thinking that if I washed it more it would be clean! So wrong! I didn’t realize that I was just spreading the infection and making it worse. I used a face wash with a scrub in it, which made it 100% worse. I should have been using Cetaphil or Purpose gentle cleansing face wash. I avoided pictures at all cost, when friends wanted to take pictures I would try to have my hair covering my face or would try to wear a lot of make-up to hide it as best as possible.

I started taking a low dose birth control pill containing estrogen; to be specific it was called “Ortho Tri-Cyclen” to help regulate my hormone levels.

After a month or two of the cysts growing and becoming more and more inflamed, my mom took me to a dermatologist. The Doctor prescribed me a topical cream called Differin and an antibiotic called Doxycycline. The topical is supposed to unclog the pores and the antibiotic is supposed to kill the bacteria that cause the inflammation around the blocked pores.

After being on that for a few weeks I went back to the dermatologist because that wasn’t working. it was getting worse. Perhaps something else might help.

The Dermatologist (Dr. Raskin) prescribed Minocycline and Tazorac this time.

It is important to know the benefits of eating a lot of yogurt and/or bio K when taking so many rounds of antibiotics, because the antibiotics gets rid of all of the good bacteria you need in your system.   The probiotics in the yogurt and bio k balances out your good and bad bacteria.

Sadly, it was yet another failure with both medications.

During the next few months I was prescribed Tetracycline, Retin-A, clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide, Salicylic acid, Azelex, tetracycline, Keflex, Epiduo and last but not least, Isotretinoin, a.k.a. ACCUTANE.

As a result from taking the minocycline, tetracycline, and doxycycline, the roots in my front two teeth had died making them slowly become discolored.  I was at my routine dentist check up and they were able to find this in the x-rays. Thank goodness this was caught early on and I was able to get two veneers put in the place of the other teeth so it’s not noticeable one bit. Nobody ever can tell unless I tell them.

Along my journey I also tried homeopathic remedies including baking soda and water made into a paste, let it dry then rinse, drinking only water, going on body cleanses, drinking apple cider vinegar and using it as a toner, tea tree oil, coconut oil, egg whites, clay masks, proactive, aloe vera and honey masks. You name it, I tried it.

As part of the requirements before going on Accutane, I had to sign a waiver saying I would be on two types of birth control. Accutane is known to cause birth defects should one become pregnant.

Also, I had to get blood taken monthly – after 8 month of being on Accutane, I was forced to stop taking it because my iron levels had dropped significantly low.

At this point, I was extremely excited that the Accutane had worked!!! The high amounts of Vitamin A had cured my ugly, painful cystic acne. And my Senior pictures were beautiful.

After the Accutane regimen, I went on to have a laser procedure called the smooth beam, as well as the IPL photo facial. Both are types of resurfacing facials to help with scarring and any spots from the acne. I feel very lucky because even though I had a severe case of cystic acne, I have little to no scarring.

The only thing I suffer from is depression, which is a common side effect of the Accutane. If I had to do it all over again I would opt out of the acutance because of some of the side effects. At the time, I was desperate and willing to try anything.

The Accutane dries up everything from the inside out. My lips, hands and feet had never been so dry in all my life. To this day, my lips are still dry and the only thing that moisturizes them enough is Aquaphor. The only time my cystic acne shows itself is when I am extremely stressed out. Other than that I am happy to say I have beautiful skin now.

I take great care of my skin, because I will never forget the nightmare of having “zits” growing on top of each other and my face being swollen. Currently I have monthly facials and peels (thank you Burke Williams) to have my skin look fantastic. As a make-up artist at MAC cosmetics, I have to set an example for a great skin care routine.

My goal in life is to help others by sharing my story.

Knowledge and support will help each and every person through their journey with cystic acne.

Other than my dermatologist, I did not have any friends with this same problem, so I felt I couldn’t ask questions. Everyone I knew had perfect skin, so I was in it all alone – or so I thought.

Thankfully, my mom and sister were always there to tell me I was beautiful and always supported me. Beauty truly comes from within. However, when a medical condition and the medication is keeping you “down”, it’s hard to feel pretty.

Accutane was the “magic wand” and a double edge sword, all at the same time. Don’t ever give up! Something will eventually work, no matter how many doctors tell you there is nothing more they can do for you, just go to another doctor! Someone will care enough to cure you!

So after all of my trial and error, I have put together a list of amazing products that I currently have used or currently use to keep my face looking beautiful and acne free.

*Some of the products do not have a link attached to them because I got them from my dermatologist so I would advise getting them from your dermatologist. They come in different strengths so the experts know what your skin can take. These topical and oral medications are strong and can cause peeling and redness so always wear a sunscreen. Not just in your moisturizer! Put an actual sunscreen over your moisturizer preferably in spf50!

I really hope that this will help you achieve the most radiant skin you have always wanted. I know I wish I would have had a list like this to refer to. I know I am not the only one suffering from this awful condition. Please let me know in the comments below if you have tried or recommend any of these products. Also please share your skin care story in the comments below.