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Hi Everyone,

I'm the mother of a 16 year old daughter. I'm in tears writing this story. I'm just so lost as what I can do to help my daughter with her severe cystic acne.

She's had acne since she was in the 4th grade. It started with little bumps here and there. Once the hormone level went haywire in 6th grade the acne got really bad. I, like other mothers, thought "it's just acne, a phase" and did not THINK to see a dermatologist for something that every teenager will go through.

By 8th grade her acne was not clearing and if anything getting worse. Her Dad had severe acne during his teen years so again....we just thought a phase but see a derm about it. The dermatologist gave her a concoction that she made herself and it worked for a couple months but that was it. We traded insurance and wasn't able to see the derm again. A friend told her about Pro-Active and guess worked...for about 5 months. It NEVER got rid of the acne but the angry red bumpy redness subsided.

This summer 11th grade year (age 16), I really started noticing how her face is always red, bumpy and how scars are forming. Not to mention that's it's ALL OVER HER FACE. It's not the acne that's just here or there..... It's the entire face. She has days where her face actually hurts in spots or all over. Poor thing she's developed my sweat glans and her Dad's big pores! Her forehead, back and chest (sweaty spots)are broken out so bad she tries to hide it.

She stopped the Pro-Active because it just didn't do anything but dry her face out at this point. I tried over the counter "pro-active" type systems. Didn't work. I think we've tried every over the counter item there is at Sav-On, Wal-Mart and the mall. I also noticed how depressed she started getting about her acne (this is the painful part)....she's BEEN boy crazy but now that all her friends are getting boyfriends and she's not, it's depressing her. A friend of hers (while I know she was trying to help) suggested that she see a dermatologist about her acne and maybe she would have a chance with boys. Whaaat!!!! Do you know HOW small I felt? Here I'm her mother and I haven't even tried to get her some type of derm help. I know last year she had a couple boys that teased her about her "bumpy, acne face", kids are so cruel and it broke my heart! My daughter is very outgoing, friendly and has plenty of friends, boys and girls but her she has self-esteem issues and the acne does not help.

Right now she has acne all over her face. Not much blackheads or whiteheads. It's mostly under the skin, angry red acne. Her forehead is covered in tiny bumpy feeling whiteheads, just bumpy feeling and red. She picks constantly.

Well, 3 months ago I took her to the doctor, he said she has cystic acne. He said it's the worst but very treatable so he prescribed monocycline(sp?) and a topical. I will say the angry redness has gone away but still leaving the bumpy cystic acne. I also switched her to the cetaphil cleanser.

My daughter and I had a long, long talk and spent 3 hours on the internet researching Accutane last week. While I'm very scared for her to try it, she's willing and I'm willing to have my daughter take the risk in order for her to lead a life with better self-esteem. So we're all set to have the doc perscribe Accutane and Damn.....he says it's really hard to go through the hoops to get it, it's something most insurance companies won't cover and the cost is about $500.00 per month. I would need a referral for a derm, that takes about 4 weeks. He said he's willing to do it, but let's try something else first.

He's now prescribing monocycline(sp?) still and the Retin A Micro Gel .04%!!!!!
He says to give it another 2 months. He says her face will get red, itchy, flaky and maybe a really bad breakout for the first month. Luckily it didn't scare her off because a friend of hers used the same thing, his face was really bad last year, but now his face after 4 months on the same treatment, is really clearing up. This is making her feel good about trying it. I explained to her that the scars are probably for life but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Anyone have any words of wisdom for me. Anything encouraging? Anything you tried that worked to help with the side effects of Retin-A Micro? Someone suggested Eucerin lotion. Anyone have/had the red angry under the skin Cystic Acne and have anything work for them? What should she really expect from the Retin-A Micro?

We've been doing the pillow case changes daily, anyone have luck with that? Anyone had dermabrasion after and had good luck? I've heard horror stories about this.

Thanks for all your help!
Upset, concerned Mother
Hello...I wish my parents were as supportive as you are when I was struggling with cysts. My acne seems to have developed similarly to how your daughters did. I'm now 23 (female) and get an occasional cyst, but usually only about every 2 months or so. I also tried everything...but I spent any $$ I got from babysitting or working after school to try to clear or cover my acne...your support is so important for for her, and I'm sure she appreciates it.

My parents took me to see a dermatologist twice, I believe. The first time I was 14, the second maybe 16. Each time the dermatologist mentioned birth control as an option, but, each time my father was with me - and of course, he said NO. I was put on an a few antibiotics, but they really didn't agree with my system. I was also given benzamyacin cream, and it made my eyes burn and turned my skin into a mess. The second time the derm perscribed cleocin, a lotion type of topical antibiotic, and it really seemed to work. My skin smoothed out and I really only wore makeup to cover some scarring. But unfortunately, when I turned 18, I was off my parents insurance, and could not afford any perscriptions on my own.

When I started college, I went to my university health center for all my needs (it was free). I went there for my first "gyno" exam, and asked about birth control. I was given a perscription, and have been on some form of birth control pill since. For me, the regulated cycles really seemed to help with the breakouts, which were due to my oily skin and wacky hormones. It has made a huge difference for me. I know everyone has different experiences with birth control (I have been on 6 kinds), but I can honestly say that each of them did more to help me than cause more harm to my skin. Like I said, I don't get a cyst very often anymore.

I know your daughter is young - and you may not want her to be on a birth control pill. I can understand. But it may be worth a try. Quite often, acne in females is connected to hormones. I know accutane will probably help her, but perhaps you could try a few cycles of a bcp and see how it works. It may be a "gentler" option.

I have pangs in my stomach when I think about what your daughter is going through. I am so sorry...I understand completely. I hope that you are helped by any of the advice you receive through the boards.

Best of luck to your family,

I am a mother and an acne sufferer so this story really touches home for me. I understand what both of you are going through. You can be such a comfort to her. My mom was. Let her know you think she's beautiful and can't wait to see how great she is going to look in just a few weeks. I was crying about my skin, and the retin-a breakout I was going through, one day and my mom told me a story about a very attractive woman she knew. She had had a chemical peel and was going about her business with a VERY red face. Her attitude was 'I don't care if it's red for a few days. Just think how beautiful I'll be when it's over.' That story helped me so much!
Let your daughter know you have faith it will eventually all go away (if you do she will too!) and don't rest until it does!!! I can't stress that enough. She needs you to help her. It is treatable and her self esteem is worth any price!
About Accutane - I wish I would have taken it at sixteen. I believe it could have saved me a lot of pain. And in my opinion the best time for a woman to take it is before she has to worry about birth defects.
Please keep us updated on how she is doing.
Hello again,

I know everyone has different hormones, but in general, some of the best birth control pills for acne are (supposed to be) Yasmin, Desogen, Mircette, and Ortho Tricyclen - this is simply because of their higher estrogen activity and lower androgenic activity. Trying a bcp may help to rule out if her acne is mainly a hormonal problem. While a bcp prescription is a case-by-case basis, these may be some pills to discuss with your MD. Also, I don't know if you have looked into spiro, that is also an option for females.

Best of luck!

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