PCOS Is Not My Friend: The Acne

By now you've read about my PCOS journey in a number of different ways: the problems with my cycle, the weight related difficulties and the body hair dilemma. Now we're onto the next, and probably most superficial of all of my symptoms: the acne. Oh, the acne. It's the bane of my existence. My chin seriously hates me right now.

I was a lucky teenager, I really was. Looking back, I never remember having problems with my skin - I had the occasional bad luck with pimples, and I always did have quite oily skin, but I never had acne like others did. I even remember being complimented for having such a nice, clear complexion. Oh hindsight, you are an evil, evil thing. My face is anything but clear now. Who would've thought that I'd ever wish for those days again?

I first noticed that my skin had changed when I moved to London. I don't know exactly what the cause of it was, but I liked to blame the harder water here in the city; but my face did not react well to the move overseas. My face, once prone to oiliness, changed completely. It became very, very dry in some places, but remained oily in others. During the first few years here, I also suffered with problems with my skin after I travelled; it would become extremely red, irritable and scratchy - as if I'd contracted some kind of rash. The pharmacist in the UK recommended I use sorbolene/aquaeous cream for moisturising, but the pharmacist back home in Sydney prescribed me with a mild cortisone cream, which helped quite a lot. But that was just the beginning.

Since starting on the Metformin tablets, I've been experiencing quite bad acne; particularly around the chin and neck. Since I've never really suffered from acne before, it's safe to say that I feel awful - they are red and inflamed, and they often seem to form little cysts - so giant red lumps that don't really ever get any 'head'. {Gross, right?} The worst part is that even if I do my best not to pick or squeeze, they scar. The red cysts eventually disappear but they leave behind a mark. My once-clear skin is now very, very scarred.

I have also been getting little bouts of acne on my back, which again, is the kind that leaves marks. I've been using bio-oil to try and reduce the scarring, but it's not really doing much good - my skin is so fair that even the smallest of bumps leaves a spot behind. It's awful. Here's me trying to get in the best shape and physical health I've been in before, and I'm spotted and marked. What lovely wedding pictures I'm going to take, eh?

Quite a few adults suffer from acne, but I'll be honest: it was not something I bargained for. I never expected to suffer from this, and especially not in my twenties - so much for escaping the hormonal crap once you're out of the teens! If I'm still not happy with my face clearing up in the next few months, that'll be one of the first things on my agenda when I have my follow up visit back in Sydney in December.

Have you ever experienced adult or cystal acne before? What did you use to combat it?

13 Comments • Labels:  


Britt said...

Don't you worry - you can photoshop out any acne on those wedding photos ;)

My breakouts were controlled by the birth control pill. Now that I'm off it, I'm noticing way more breakouts. Not quite sure what to do. Trying to keep my face clean and my diet free of processed crap, but I don't know if those are just wives tales or not.

Liv said...

That's really tough hun. I'm nearly 30 and still deal with acne. I figured it was just a fact of life - but I'm guessing I'm not supposed to be dealing with this much anymore.

I can't stand my skin. I envy the women who have very smooth even complexions. Mine's never been even.

I just try my best to use ProActiv - but I don't think it really works. Some help I am right? =)

Amanda said...

I always thought that since my face was oily in the t-zone, I should avoid using moisturisers, since surly that would make things worse? But no, I think that actually helped. Ironically, I actually think moving to London made things better, despite the hard water- but that could be a combination of using moisturiser, amongst other things.

I never had terrible acne, but I've always been prone to breakouts (and blackheads), and my back used to be pretty bad. My back has largely cleared up on it's own the last few years.

I guess the only thing I can suggest is to see your dr- I don't know if Metformin makes it worse, or if there's other meds you could take to help (even if just in the lead up to the wedding). And remember, if all else fails- a skilled make-up artist can hide anything (and Britt's right-- there's always photoshop at the end of the day).

I'm finding my skin more prone to breakouts now that I'm off the pill, which is weird, because I wasn't on one that controls acne. I'm hoping it's just from using so much sunscreen while I was on holidays, but we'll have to wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Bane of my life... I also found that when I went to Australia my skin improved massively, possibly due to the sun? And plus I was drinking a million litres of water a day because of the heat. Hopefully things will improve for you when you get back home. Right now I'm taking some antibiotics - lymecycline. Long term. Had about a year off them and now back on and they're not working as well as before :( I wish my mother had sent me to the doctor when I was 13.

Jess said...

Oh, that is so frustrating. Did you talk to the doctor who prescribed the Metformin about how to deal with this side effect? Or maybe you could go to a dermatologist who specializes in this kind of thing? I hope you find a solution soon!

Jess said...

Ummm you are talking to the teen/adult acne queen. I had the worst acne from 14 or 15 yrs old to the point where my left cheek scarred significantly. Thankfully most of it has faded more than 10 years on, but... the worst of it was just around the time of my 23/24th birthday. It was so bad that I hated looking in the mirror, etc.

I used everything. Proactive, dermalogica, cetaphil, lots of expensive skin care products, and nothing made it go away. My doctor even put me on to retinae (sp?) and a bunch of other topical creams and in the end gave me prescriptions that did shit all except give me stomach pain.

In the end though, time cleared it. I haven't had huge problems with acne now for probably about 2 years. I get the odd zit or lumpy/scratchy jawline, but not red and irritated like it was before.

I guess the thing that I do now is, exfoliate once a week, and make sure I clean every little trace of whatever cleanser/facial wash I am using out of every nook and cranny of my face and then i use a hot cloth on my face and my skin feels hydrated.

Moisturisers can clog pores especially if youre already prone to acne, so be careful. Also don't make the mistake of what I did and try to cover your acne with make up because A, it's even more noticable, and B, it'll make the acne 1000% worse. My skin also felt nicer when I stopped wearing make up. Each time I do have a temporary lapse in idoicy and decide to wear a liquid based foundation or alleged 'mineral' cover, you can be sure my face will break out.

Acne is so horrible. Im sorry you have it :(

Becky said...

Ugh, what a pain! The only thing I've ever really had consistent success with is Proactiv - I don't use their moisturizer (it's not enough for my skin), but the cleanser and toner are awesome. I saw a result after a few days and if for some reason I run out and start using something else I can always tell.

Jen said...

Superficial or not, acne still makes you feel like crap. Hopefully it improves once you move back to Australia.

I had a few years of totally clear skin when I was on the pill, I got a few spots once I stopped but pregnancy hormones have not been kind to my face. I seem to have new, blind lumps popping up faster than than the old ones go down.

P said...

My skin is far worse at 31 than it was as a teen. It's manageable but I don't generally feel happy without make up on. I blame the air con in work mainly as when I'm not in work for a week or so, my skin condition improves drastically. I did find for a while that the Garnier Pure A night treatment gel helped me clear them up. But then I think my skin got used to it and it stopped working so well, sadly.

Hilary said...

Like you, as a teenager I had perfect skin. Then in my late 20’s I started to develop acne. The cystic kind – such fun! I went to the dr. Took antibiotics, which helped, but who wants to stay on them. I also had to get cortisone shots in my cysts… Painful, but didn’t cause scares. I am almost 37 (hate that age) and for the past few months it seems better. I totally stopped popping and picking. I get a facial about every four months. But, what I really think helps, is I have been using a acne soap by Neutrogena. Since I began to use, my acne improved.

terra said...

I've got super sensitive skin that's just as prone to breakouts now as it was when I was a teenager. It's not really bad, just annoying and obnoxious to have a big, angry red zit on my face at the age of 26. Fingers crossed you find something that works for you!

Viv said...

That sounds really crappy. You'd think as an adult we don't have to deal with acne anymore. I used to have bad skin as a teenager, but it cleared up as I went on the pill. As I told you I stopped taking it just recently and I'll have to see how my skin reacts to that (so far I'm not seeing any changes, phew! - but it's only been a little over a week so maybe it takes a while). In the past few years I have been really happy with my complexion (even though I also have partly dry and partly oily skin) so I hope it doesn't change.
Do you reckon it might also have something to do with air pollution? I mean, Sydney is also a big city but if I remember correctly you lived in a suburb there, as opposed to the city, right? Maybe moving back to AUS will help and your skin will get better again?

Chantel said...

Wow, that's really all very crap. I have sensitive skin that gets irritated so easily so I kind of feel your pain with it.

I hope if it hasn't sorted itself out by the time you come home that you get to the doc and they sort it out for your wedding.

And you don't have to worry. Some breakouts or not, you are going to be such a beautiful bride! x

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