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I feel your pain! I'm 32 and my skin also had cleared up with birth control all through my twenties. I had to switch due to cost reasons around age 30 and within a year I had the worst skin I've ever had in my entire life.

I finally went to a dermatologist this spring. After a recent follow-up, I've come to the conclusion that he's a bit too quick to medicate his patients (drug company tool!), but for the short term, the following combination worked wonders for me:

1. Spironolactone. Miracle worker. I've stopped taking it after 6 months b/c for me, it had sexual side effects and the potential for serious birth defects that I wasn't willing to live with. But for my skin, it was absolutely wondrous. I took 100 mg/day and my skin was clear with no oiliness whatsoever.

2. Minocycline. My doctor wants me to be on this all the time. I'm to the point where my skin is clear enough that I'm very happy with it and don't see the sense of being on a 6 month course of daily antibiotics. However, when I first started treatment, I think that the two months I did on the mino really helped clear up my skin...especially my back and got the acne causing bacteria out of my system.

3. Differin. My doctor swears this is doing wonders for my skin. I'm not sure that I see the difference, however its not that risky of a treatment and with my insurance + copay coupons, its free, so I keep using it.

4. Plexion. This is a sulfur based cleanser that is by RX only. It is a godsend. The smell is pretty icky, but using this twice a day keeps my oiliness under control and stops my pimples in their tracks. I use a half a cloth in my morning shower...face, back and arms (this has done WONDERS for my keratosis pilaris!). In the evenings, I use 1/4 a cloth just on my face. Sometimes, I skip the evening round and use the Cetaphil antibacterial bar or Purpose cleanser instead.

5. Good moisturizer. I use Cetaphil lotion on my face, either the basic or the one with sunscreen, depending on the season (right now, I'm using basic, but I use foundation in the winter, so I have a foundation with SPF 15).

That combination, used religiously, completely transformed my skin. It took time, though...probably a solid three months before I started seeing serious changes. But it did happen.

Now that I'm off the spironolactone and the minocycline, I do get occasional pimples, especially during my period. I have a bit more oiliness and a few more blackheads on my nose and chin. I bought Acne Free's "Acne & Blackhead Terminator" from the drug store...its 1.5% salicylic acid and 1% benzoyl peroxide. Gets the job done with overdrying like other products with higher concentrations of these products do.

I'm continuing with the plexion, differin, and taking good care of my skin. I'll probably do another round of mino here soon....i'm just not liking that it interferes with birth control.

The earlier poster was right...it doesn't sound like your current dermatologist has a good handle on your issues. Try finding one that understands hormonal acne. They can even run bloodwork to see if that is the case, or at least they can suggest solutions and prescribe medications that will help you determine whether or not hormones are indeed the underlying cause of your condition.

Best of luck!

CJ





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