acne

beauty

My secret weapon against cystic acne

IMG_4231Kisses and clear skin from Rio

Okay, let’s get real: I don’t have perfect, airbrushed skin that women would die for. But I also don’t have disastrous skin with acne all over my face. No, I had particularly frustrating skin issues throughout my 20’s. I would get 1-2 large, deep, painful cystic acne that would takes weeks to pass and caused severe scarring, mainly on or around my chin. Sad truth.

Now I’m not saying looks are everything, but your face tends to be one of the first things people notice, considering your skin covers 100% of your face. And while make-up is one of mankind’s greatest inventions and helps tremendously, no concealer will hide a small mountain on your face. It was an arduous, painful and very expensive journey until I finally discovered the ONE treatment that actually made a difference and worked (and it is still working!).

Skin is our largest organ, and it’s hugely vulnerable because, well obviously, it’s constantly exposed to the sun, the environment and pollution. Then factor in internal causes, such as hormones, infections and genetics, and skin has a slim chance at appearing smooth, flawless and healthy. It’s difficult to rule out all the causes, because our bodies are always changing, and sometimes so is our environment.

Like many women, I saw a lot of changes in my skin during my hormonal cycles, and not much I can do about that (mother nature, am I right?). Next, if you’re a frequent traveler like me, you often get breakouts after flying, major sleep cycle changes or switching extreme climates. Airplane acne is a real thing, check out this article to learn more. Finally, life… stress propels a lot of changes in your body almost immediately, and without keeping that in check, your last rush of anxiety at work or at home can be a culprit in the ‘literally growing before your eyes’ breakout.

The least we can do, besides minimizing the factors mentioned above, is keep our face clean, whether with products or going to facials. However, in my experience, that’s not enough. I needed something supplementary from the inside that would control the hormonal changes that were clearly spiking my cystic acne. I tried many treatments and medications throughout the years, including antibiotics, birth control, topical retinoids and chemical peels. It’s important to note I was never a candidate for Isotretinoin (such as Accutane), and I never pursued it because of its harmful side effects.

So time and time again, I would get these ugly breakouts, usually a mounting bump on my chin, and I swear it would begin an emotional reaction as such: Denial, despair, effort to mitigate or treat intensely, cover up with make-up, and finally squeezing that sucker out with my own two hands… WORST thing you can do to your skin. What it left me with were new relatives of the main pimple in the surrounding area within just a few days, then finally, once the grand mound would go down, it would form a crater or depression in my skin that I would later spend a TON of money correcting.

One day, after complaining to my gynecologist about this issue, she offered me a solution without hesitating: Spironolactone. It is normally used to treat high BP, but when issued in lower doses, it has androgen blockers (that delivers just the teensiest bit of progestin) and makes you pee a lot (diuretic), but the point is it lowers hormone levels and oil production enough to stop acne in the lower half of your face. I was SUPER hesitant, especially she told me it would take up to 3 months to work. Who has time to have faith in a medicine when you have to wait a whole weather season??

Nonetheless, it was my Hail Mary attempt to clear my skin, and others things weren’t working, so why not? Surely enough, in about 2 months, I noticed that no new lumps were forming in my chin and jaw bone. Then no lumps of acne were forming anywhere else on my body (I would occasionally get painful cystic acne on my shoulders or back). I took my medication regularly (100mg of Spironolactone daily).

I’m one year in now, and it’s the first year in over a decade where I have NOT had any cystic acne, and my skin is clear. In fact, I very rarely get tiny zits from built-up make-up or dirt, but nothing that gets inflamed or huge. And guess who has two thumbs and no longer pops any zits? This girl! Lesson learned, all right.

So if you are out there suffering from cystic acne, and you feel like you’ve hit a wall with medications or treatments, why not learn more about Spironolactone? If you’re a good candidate, it can really make a difference not only in your skin, but your self-esteem and inner peace.

Comment below if you’ve struggled with acne and what treatments have or haven’t worked for you!