I’ve had “bad” skin for what feels like my entire life. In reality, the acne started in my early teens, like it does for so many others. In high school it feels normal to have acne—who doesn’t? But my fight against acne always seemed harder than my friends, due to the fact that I’m allergic to most antibiotics dermatologists prescribe for skin issues. So I relied solely on topical treatments with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid; some would work for a little while, but then my acne would come right back again.
By the time I got to college I started taking birth control to tame my breakouts, and it worked like a miracle for about two years—up until the day I ended up in the emergency room with chest pains. I was too scared to pop another pill after that. So I went back to topicals—my dermatologist prescribed Retin-A Micro and my pesky skin problems were solved once again.
But just a few months shy of my 30th birthday, my acne came back with a vengeance—in the form of deep, painful cystic bumps. This new form of acne was unlike anything I had encountered in the past, and I didn’t have a clue about how to fight it. I started making more frequent dermatologist visits, getting monthly extractions and cortisone injections when necessary, but it wasn’t letting up.