I wanted to get started on a little series about my hormonal acne. The first part I want to touch on what I had tried previously and a bit of background. I’m hoping that this series can help others take a look at their own struggles with acne and see if they can pinpoint what the issue is, or try something that they hadn’t thought of yet.
*Side note, all photos included in this post are makeup free. Turns out I haven’t kept all that many except in recent years haha.
When I was 15 I started to develop angry cystic acne on my cheeks, lower jaw, neck, chin and even on my back. It was painful, and embarrassing. I used so many drugstore cleansers, toners and masks that likely did more harm than good. Stripping my skin of all it’s natural oils was probably detrimental to my skin’s health. I eventually asked my Mum to take me to the GP.
My GP was awful to say the least – this is a storytime in and of itself. She made me so uncomfortable (“oh you have a boyfriend, he must have acne too then?”) and shamed me for having acne (“don’t you wash your face?”). At only 15, I wish I could go back and knock some sense into that woman. In any case, she prescribed me a set of antibiotics (Dalacin-C) and a lotion (Dalacin-T). I used these religiously for six months, before admitting defeat.
My next visit to the same GP (again, another awful experience) and she prescribed me to the pill – specifically Juliette-35ED. This is a popular hormonal birth control pill that improves your skin. My skin cleared up within a few months and I honestly felt fantastic. I didn’t have to worry about my menstrual cycle popping up – I could skip it! (Ah sweet summer child).
I stayed on the Juliette-35ED pill for the next 11 years. During this time, I experienced various things that at the time, I did not relate back to being on the pill. However, on reflection,these are common side effects of hormonal birth control. The symptoms I experienced mostly were depression, anxiety, weight gain and probably more symptoms that I didn’t really take notice of.
It wasn’t until I decided to switch to the Impanon in August 2016 that the fun really began. The implanon, a small bar inserted under the skin and lasting up to three years, was a blessing and a curse. A curse in that I had continual spotting and my hormonal acne was triggered again, but a blessing because I was no longer battling depressive episodes and I was able to come to the realisation that masking my symptoms with fake hormones was not the answer.
I first tried a few topical solutions that had worked for smaller breakouts. Everything from salon chemical peels to topical creams and regimented skin care. They did help a lot! However, every few weeks I would have a big cystic breakout. On the plus side, blackheads and whiteheads didn’t appear as much, so that kind of process definitely works for that type of acne.
During the time that I had the implanon in my arm, my (new) GP and I started looking at options to reduce my hormonal acne and spotting issues. The first point of call – go back on the pill for three months and see if my ‘hormones balance’. My skin cleared up and the spotting disappeared completely. Amazing right? Wrong. I immediately felt depressed and highly anxious. I also put back on about three kilograms. After three months on the pill, I was legit SO happy to get off it again.
Right when I went off the pill (again), it was only a matter of time before I could see my skin flaring up again, and the spotting returned. My GP suggested going back on the pill again, which I declined. He then suggested taking some antibiotics (Doxycycline). He gave me a three month script and admittedly, my skin did look better after only four weeks. Unfortunately, the main side effect of these antibiotics was skin sensitivity. I couldn’t put anything on my skin, even my most gentle moisturiser, without itching and stinging. Makeup was out of the question, and I experienced a lot of irritation from wearing even minimal amounts of makeup like mascara. My eyes would puff up. I couldn’t even go out in the sun or wind without being in pain.
Eventually, I decided enough was enough. I researched a lot about hormonal birth control, diet restrictions and additions, supplementation, acupuncture and essential oils. I’ve finally come up with a semblance of a plan that I am seeing the first signs of results with.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series which is the first few months of what I’ve implemented since December 2017
Let me know if you would like updates about my progress too! Monthly, quarterly?