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First off, I'm female, 25, and my face is now almost completely clear.

My acne first started when I was about 16, and it was mild. Mostly pustules on my jawline and chin, but not really any cysts. I tried proactive, and just about every acne facial cleanser, salicyclic acid, benzoyl peroxide, icing my face, glycolic acid...the list goes on and on. I also tried numerous prescriptions for different oral antibiotics (minocycline, tetracycline), topical antibiotics (erythromycin), retin-a cream and differin gel (however, I do not think I gave these topicals a fair chance and quit too soon), and a ton of different birth control pills (orthotricyclen, yasmin, levlen).

I went away to college, and since my acne wasn't terrible, I kind of just let things go and accepted the fact that I'd always have zits.

Once I graduated, I moved back home. I (for some strange reason) thought that maybe it was the birth control pills that were causing my acne. Soo, I took myself off of them and decided to wait and see what happened. My acne started getting horrible, and I started getting zits in places I never had before (my cheeks got really bad-- I used to joke that I looked like I had a "zit beard"). Soo, after about 6 months of that, I was fed up and went back to the derm.

The derm thought that I'd do well on doxycycline (100 mg 2 times a day), retin-a 0.025% cream (actually it's generic "Avita"), and generic ortho-tricyclen bc pills. I went home thinking, geez, this is not going to work!!! But, I read all the instructions very thoroughly, and gave it a shot.

At first my acne got worse. I started out using the retin-a every night (even though the doc suggested weening myself onto it. I wanted to get through the initial breakout phase ASAP). I even got all crazy and kept a log of how bad my acne was (on a scale of 1-10) and what foods I was eating (just to see if I could correlate any sort of diet issues with the acne).

At about weeks 6-8, my acne was at it's worst. however, after about weeks 10-12, it started subsiding very very very gradually. It's now been 11 months, and I barely ever get zits. Right now I have one teeny tiny one. I still have some redness (probably from the retin-a), and I'm not really sure if it will ever go away. But, for me, i'd take redness over painful zits anyday.

Sooo, I'm still taking the 3 meds (and I'm wondering what sort of damage I'm doing to my intestines with the long-term antibiotic use, but my Doc tryed reassuring me that it's not a problem). I wash my face in the AM and PM with Cetaphil. In the daytime I use Neutrogena's Healthy Defense SPF 30 moisturizer.

I never really determined any correlation with my diet, so I haven't changed anything (although, I'm sure if I cut out all the refined sugars and dairy I would probably see an improvement).

Well, if you're still reading this you must be bored! Sorry it was so long. If I had one piece of advice to give it would be to allow time for your acne to improve. SO many people on this board will say bad things about a med, but they wouldn't give it enough time to see results. Things are almost always going to get worse before they get better. So just follow the instructions carefully and give it time. Oh, also (i'm sure this is obvious). Don't touch your face!!! I used to be a big picker, and I would make my zits SO much worse than they could have been had I left them alone.

Good luck to everyone...I hope this helps someone!

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