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How I cured my Cystic Acne in 3 months

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It covers less than 1% of your body, yet somehow it can feel as if it’s become the key feature that identifies you. It is everything you see. 

Acne is about so much more than scattered scars and spots. For many, the mental impact it can have is just as damaging as the physical.

According to the NHS, over 80% of teenagers suffer with acne. However, contrary to popular belief, acne is not just a ‘teenage’ problem. Other studies indicate that between 40% and 55% percent of 20-40-year-olds suffer from acne too.

I have suffered with acne for over eight years. If I had a penny for every time I was asked if I washed my face or if I’d considered ditching dairy, I’d be able to afford a new face entirely.

I’d tried every medication I could find. Medicines, soaps, creams, contraceptive pills... the list is endless.

I felt hopeless, miserable and embarrassed. I didn’t want to leave my bed and I didn’t want to see my friends or my family. I was using speaker phone to avoid the phone touching my skin and spreading bacteria. I couldn’t even let my boyfriend touch my face anymore in case he popped a spot.

July saw my face reach a new level. My acne tripled in its extremity. I’d never felt uglier in my life. I returned to university to start my second year in September. I didn’t even want to go.

The doctors seemed to have done everything they could, but I figured I’d try just one more time. My appointment was brief, and the doctor showed no hesitancy in prescribing me with a treatment she seemed very confident with. She gave me a tube of Differin gel (also known as Adapalene). I’ll admit, I was pessimistic.

How can a gel combat such an erratic hormonal imbalance? Never have I been so happy to be proven wrong.

Differin has changed my life. While the treatment isn’t an easy solution, it is a solution that works. 13 weeks in and my acne is gone. The scaring takes time but my skin is clear. This is something I never ever thought I’d say.

But don't take my word for it - let this visual diary reassure you that cures do exist:

Day 1:

I started using 0.1% Differin gel on September 7 2017. Unlike other treatments, this one is topical, meaning it is applied directly to the problem area.

While my cheeks and chin had the most acne, I was advised to apply the treatment all over my face. It is important to only apply this in the evenings as it makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

This picture was taken the morning before I started treatment. My acne had never been this severe and I had never been so miserable. I’d given up before I had even started, but in this sense, at least I had nothing to lose.

Day 7:

On this day my skin took on a whole new shade of red. As awful as it was to see, the texture of my skin had definitely improved. To most, dry and flaky skin would not be a positive thing, but anyone suffering with acne will tell you that oily skin is far worse.

My spots were drying out and quickly began looking less inflamed. I had combatted the dryness of my skin by exfoliating, but on this day, I purchased an oil-free moisturiser from Neutrogena. This helped a lot.

Day 15:

All existing spots had now reduced in size. My face felt less swollen and the redness began to subside. I was warned of an ‘initial breakout’ period, whereby six months’ worth of underlying spots would surface as part of an acne ‘purge’. 

As much I was dreading this, I figured it couldn’t be much worse that what I have now. Famous last words.

Day 27:

So the purge arrived... In the leaflet, it was predicted as being between week four and six, and looking at the day this photo was taken, it couldn’t have been more accurate.

While the purge damaged my skin seemingly beyond repair, I tried to stay positive. After all, this suggested that it was following the plan set out in the leaflet - the same plan that predicted a 60% acne reduction by week twelve.

Day 34:

While the scarring here makes my skin look pretty awful, I actually had very few spots. The redness was more of a nuisance, than a real problem.

A decent layer of makeup was now able to improve the appearance of my skin.  Texture was gradually becoming less of an issue. As irritating as these red blotches were, I was now able to actually wash my face in the shower, as opposed to just patting it in the past to avoid popping my spots. 

Day 87:

By this photograph, I was well into week twelve. While the clinical studies featured on the official Differin website reported 60% reductions, I’d argue my skin saw up to a 90% improvement. While small whiteheads sometimes pop up during menstruation, these are totally manageable and disappear very quickly.

Of course, twelve weeks of treatment requires a great deal of patience, but after eight years, this time flew by. Clear skin is a reality I never thought I’d experience.

Day 150:

No acne. Very little redness. A little scarring. At this point, I couldn't care less. 

The results honestly speak for themselves... Day 0 vs Day 150:

(no make up or filters)

Let me just say though, if you haven’t tried Differin, holy cow just bloody do it.

My photographs and acne diary could not do it justice. The results I have witnessed seemed completely impossible.

This account is based on fact and my honest experience. No paid promotions. No diet or lifestyle changes. Just me and this miracle gel.

While spots aren’t really an issue for me anymore (hallelujah), it’s hard not to fear that they could eventually return. To prevent this, on January 17 2018, I was prescribed 30mg Roaccutane/Isotretinoin by my dermatologist. Taking this came with the commitment to stop using Differin (uh oh).

Despite some pretty scary side effects, I figured any treatment referred to as the ‘nuclear option’ must be pretty damn powerful, both in the process and results. While the results from Differin were definitely enough for me to live with, Roaccutance’s promises of permanent clear skin were too tempting to ignore. 

What this space - I'll keep you posted!

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