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Saturday, 28 March 2015

My cystic acne adventure

Warning: contains grim images of my face: expli-zit content etc.  
(I think some people like looking at that stuff) 
Here is one nice pic to soften the blow (and ensure the main blog post image isn't the next one!)

I've not been blessed with the good 'takes care of itself' skin. I think there was a brief period in my early 20's when I could get away with a heavy lifestyle and not get spots, but before and after that moment in time its always been partial to blotchiness. I'm fine with that, I don't feel entitled to perfect skin, the odd blemish comes and goes, some people have a far more raw deal in life. 

In my mid 20's I began to get cystic acne on my neck. It would switch from one side to the other, once one side calmed a little the other would heat up again. Cysts like this last for weeks if not months, hurt and leave scars. *brings out tiny violin 

At its worst (most of the time) I would look like I'd just been nibbled by a zombie. I hoped people would think I'd had some sort of burns accident. In some ways I was grateful it wasn't on my face so it would be less immediate, but would always be wary of anyone unfortunate enough to face me side on.

Working out what it was
I had a stint of seeing doctors and was eventually referred to a dermatologist but I don't remember any of them clarifying it as cystic acne. They seemed about as miffed as I was. I was tried out on various creams and some pills. But it only really started to calm down once I came off my birth control pill (which is what I had to do to take some of the medication they were offering). It takes around 6 months for hormone pills to fully leave your body and I believed that it was the absence of the daily hormone pill that led to my skin beginning to look a bit more normal…and it took a long time. 

What's causing it
If you are suffering with cystic acne on the neck in particular I'd consider looking at your birth control as its one of those things you don't think twice about taking. There are so many different types of the pill so its not the same for everyone and I can't even remember what I was on (possibly Microgynon) Doctors put you on the cheapest one first so remember you can change brands and find one that works for you. Some people even find it controls acne. Amend your diet where you can, but don't blame yourself for it.

I find when it comes to skin conditions like acne you are made to feel as if its your fault. Concerned friends offer (unasked for) suggestions such as "It must be wearing make-up", "it must be your diet", "its those cakes" (no! not teh cakes!). Theres certainly a stigma of it all being down to YOU. But its just unfortunate that your body is processing things differently to others.

What's helping
I've taken to googling my own symptoms and believe I have a higher level of testosterone that causes this particular kind of acne. I've been taking a supplement called DIM religiously the last week or two and have not had a new cyst since. However it could just be the right time in my cycle. 

It's been nearly 3-5 years but I feel as if its finally beginning to settle (touch wood!) I was shocked when I came across the pictures of when it was in full force. Hence the blog post, I was initially just going to waffle on about my skin care routine. I've taken for granted the 1-2 cysts I get every now and then.

If you are suffering full on at the moment it will change and go away. Your skin and body changes in good and bad ways and no one is untouchable or unworthy of those changes in some way or another. Most people are too busy obsessing about their own problems that they probably don't even notice yours. I was thinking earlier how I never see anyone with acne out and about but that's probably because I'm in my own world. Change up your routine and try and stick to natural treatments.  

As you can tell its not perfect, mostly scars which are a lot easier to conceal. I'm just grateful that's it x