acne Body self-care Wellness

My Struggles with Adult Acne {Part 1}

September 20, 2016

A couple of years ago I could have never imagined I’d be writing this post. Acne wasn’t a stressor of mine- and even if it were, I probably wouldn’t have been sharing about it on the internet.

But at 27 years old, acne has become a very real issue in my life. One which I have cried over and laughed over and has without a doubt made me a better, more compassionate person. I know – not exactly what you’d expect from someone who woke up one day with red craters on her face.

But let me back up to the beginning of this story.

Part one of The Healthy Maven's Struggles with Adult Acne. How hormonal acne suddenly appeared and what she's doing to try and solve the problem.I am the product of a mother who probably has the most incredible skin in the world. I have never met anyone who takes better care of her skin and has without a doubt reaped the benefits. And not surprisingly, this quality has rubbed off on me.

I’m definitely the only 13 year old who would go for facials and was using hyoleronic serum when my friends were using oxyclean. I by no means had perfect skin (what pubescent teen does?), but all things considered, I never really struggled with teenage acne.

This was a theme that continued through my college years and into my early 20s. And I’ll be honest, I looked at people with acne and couldn’t really understand their perspective. For me, zits could be avoided by having a consistent and high-quality skincare regimen. Birth control helped too.

But then everything changed. At 24 I decided to change my birth control. After years of having been on the pill, I was concerned about my liver having to process synthetic hormones for too long. I wanted something less intrusive but still protective. Side note -I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the birth control pill so don’t read into this too much! This is when I decided to switch onto Mirena, an IUD that releases progesterone locally.

I’m told that there aren’t too many side-effects that come along with Mirena, but I guess I’m the exception. Within 2 weeks of having Mirena inserted, I started to notice zits popping up around my jawline, chest and back. I was overwhelmed, mortified and completely confused.

At first I thought that it was just my body reacting to the new hormones and it would pass. A solid coat of makeup would hopefully do the trick for the time being. Unfortunately, 6 months later nothing had changed. Instead of clearing up, it got worse. Suddenly the girl with perfect skin had acne everywhere.

No amount of face masks, healthy fats, facials or cutting out dairy would do the trick. So as a last resort I went to my doctor to see what we could do. Her solution? Antibiotics for your skin. Now, I have nothing against taking medication if you have a problem that needs fixing. But to me, taking a medication to combat the effects of another medication seemed very strange.

I knew in my gut that this just wasn’t the right solution so I foraged on hoping that something would change.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t.

At 25 years old I was dealing with my first bout of acne. I learned a whole new level of sympathy for anyone who had been struggling with acne for most of their lives. To those of you who have stayed committed to finding a solution and healing your body, I commend you. Your resilience and patience is astounding.

Now it was my turn to test this patience and figure out what in the heck was going on.

The story continues in PART 2

Have you ever struggled with acne?


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  • Reply
    Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie
    September 20, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Ugh, ACNE. It has been one of the biggest struggles I have had to go through. I grew up getting acne early and always having it (even birth control didn’t help me). I struggled so much with just looking at my face in the mirror that I knew I had to do something, so I did the antibiotics, which worked for a while then just decided to stop working. I eventually made the really hard choice to go on accutane and am SO happy I did. My acne disappeared and my skin is better than ever. It was a tough choice to make to go on and not something I would recommend to everyone, but for me it was exactly what my face needed and now I can finally feel comfortable leaving the house without wearing make up 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 25, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story, lovely! It is always as option though I’m avoiding it if I can. Stay tuned for post #2 and #3 coming this week!

  • Reply
    Liz @ I Heart Vegetables
    September 20, 2016 at 8:00 am

    I struggled with acne more in college and afterwards rather than when I was a teenager which was really frustrating! It’s definitely hard because different things work for differnet people and it’s hard not to think “Why won’t that work for me?!” My skin has cleared up over the past couple of years but I still get a breakout every now and then which reminds me how lucky I am that it doesn’t happen all the time anymore!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 25, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      That’s how I was as a teenager! I guess experiencing acne gives you more appreciation for when you don’t have it. I like that perspective!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2016 at 8:17 am

    I experienced the same situation after getting Mirena and so did my best friend. It is AWFUL and so embarrassing to have acne again at 25 after having a relatively clear face since age 15. I am currently on antibiotics and spironolactone which has helped tremendously but I’m getting off the antibiotics soon so I’m wondering what comes next. Accutane would be last resort. You’re right though, it seems ridiculous to combat one medication with another, but having my mirena removed doesn’t seem like the best idea either because of the positives of the device.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 25, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      I hear ya! It sort of feels like a lose lose situation. I ended up getting mine out but you’ll hear more about that journey in part #2 and #3 coming this week!

  • Reply
    Beverley @ Born to Sweat
    September 20, 2016 at 9:24 am

    i was just like you – i think i can count on one hand the number of pimples i got as a teen. Like i was SUPERRRR lucky.
    i also went on Mirena about a year ago, but luckily didn’t notice any changes at all. However in the last 6-8 months i noticed my chin just constantly blowing up with pimples. one would come for 5-6 days and then slowly fade, and as soon as it was ALMOST gone, another two would start to break through the skin. It was SO frustrating. actually the one thing that helped was Biotherm sending me their face moisturiser (perfect timing) and it cleared it up after a few days use. maybe i just needed to stop using cheap Body Shop cream and upgrade!! Sorry for the long reply!! Haha

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 25, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      THAT WAS ME! I was fine for a few months and then BAM, acne. Definitely caused by the Mirena so totally your call on what to do but for me, my skin wasn’t having it! Missing you, lady!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2016 at 9:32 am

    i don’t want to scare you but I would get rid of that IUD. My niece had it. She developed breast cancer from the release of the hormones! They couldn’t figure it out at first (doesn’t run in the family) she has one of best cancer specialists in the country it was confirmed it caused it. Please do your research. 💗💗💗

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 20, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Don’t worry, it’s been out for a while! Stay tuned for the next part of the story 🙂

  • Reply
    September 20, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Oooh girl I totally feel you on the acne front — I’m 26 and only just recently got that shit under control thanks to a totally different approach from my dermatologist. Obviously I’m not a doctor, but I learned that hormonal acne is pretty common, and I was put on a low does hormone to fix that imbalance. It totally changed my skin and now I’m acne (and bacne…) free!

    Curious to hear about what treatments you started using!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 25, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      I’ll keep you posted! This week’s post is all about my new approach but great to hear you’ve found something that works for you!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2016 at 10:00 am

    I’ve struggled with adult acne when I was 25 and 26. The long and short of it was that I went to the doctor. I used biacna for about a month and now I keep the tube around as a spot treatment, but I never use it. A month…after a year of being so frustrated with my skin. It took a friggen month to fix it. (Side note: I’ve been on the same birth control since 18, no change there. I also have had perfect skin up until 25.)

    My first piece of advice is to go to the doctor and stop wasting money on products that are hard on your skin and still don’t work. While biacna probably isn’t for everyone, I had no issues. At least your doctor can help you find something without breaking the bank (ie. prescriptions covered by insurance).

    To be totally honest, if you’re having a skin reaction to your birth control, it seems like perhaps that method isn’t working well with your body. Look for something new. I think hormonal birth control is trying to find the lesser of the evils. I can’t wait to stop taking hormones in another year-ish. There isn’t anything natural about altering your biological make up. Oh well, I won’t get started on that rant, haha! I’m feeling ultra-feminist today and I still think we need male birth control pills.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 25, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      I feel ya sista! I’m off BC now and have taken a new approach to my skin. Stay tuned for what’s been working in this week’s post!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Yes and I still do to some extent! I tend to get the hormonal cystic kind on my chin that time of month and it’s awwwwwful. I have considered cutting out dairy to see if it helps but so far I haven’t. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 25, 2016 at 10:24 pm

      Aw I’m so sorry to hear this Katie! Hang in there and keep trying. Stay tuned for part #2 and #3 where I talk about some of the things that have been working for me!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Hi lovely! I am glad you’re sharing your story, as I know a lot of us can relate (including myself). I commend you for questioning your doc for prescribing antibiotics to put a “band aid” on a possible symptom from the other medicine (hormonal IUD).

    I am eager to read more of your story. Just curious, have you thought about working with a naturopathic doctor? I am currently working with one, who also helped my friend with her hormones and skin.


    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 25, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      I’m currently seeing way so stay tuned for this week’s post to learn more! It’s been amazing!

  • Reply
    Kelsey Preciado
    September 20, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    GIRL! I had the absolute worst acne during high school!! It was terrible, feeling like people were only looking at my zits and not me as a person. But going on birth control totally solved everything and it was fabulous! And of course now I went off of BC (for similar reasons as you) in December. Not ready to talk too much about what has happened since then but hormones (or lack there of in my case now) BE CRAY!

    OH and you are beautiful no matter what!! 🙂 XO!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 25, 2016 at 10:22 pm

      hear for you if you ever need to chat! I’m (hopefully) on the tail end of this journey but I know EXACTLY how you feel right now. Line’s always open!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Eat the Gains
    September 20, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    I had some acne in high school and college, but it wasn’t anything too bad. Going on birth control helped, but I have been off BC for about 8 years (holy shit haha) and my body/hormones are still way off. I know I was over exercising and under eating when I first got off it, but now I just exercise regularly and eat a lot and things still aren’t right. I get pimples randomly now, but it’s not a lot and not very frequently. I wash my face with fat, use coconut oil for lotion, and barely wear makeup.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2016 at 11:40 am

    This is how I ended up pregnant….wanting to get off birth control and finding no real natural suitable alternative. I was looking into the IUD but I’m not loving the idea.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    OMG I feel you so much!!! I had flawless skin for my entire life, until 2014 shit hit the fan in bigger ways then I could imagine medically and I went from the girl that never needed makeup to the girl that cannot leave her house without it. I am still struggling, its been about 2 years. And to be honest it is mortifying as a health coach and clean eater to be dealing with this. My doctors say Accutane, and I have been holding off. I imagine I will need it, but I’m hoping I won’t. I hope you find peace with this and healing!

  • Reply
    The Wooden Spoon
    September 23, 2016 at 6:47 am

    UGH. Acne. I thought I would grow out of it by now, but I haven’t. I’ve constantly been on the lookout for something (anything!) that will make it go away that does not involve pills (which I will not take). Acne is the worst.

  • Reply
    Lisa Eure
    September 27, 2016 at 11:16 am

    I also have had problems with cystic acne and have gotten tremendous results with a product called anti cyst treatment from Renee Rouleau.

  • Reply
    Stella @ Stellicious Life
    September 28, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Big hugs to you! I’ve struggled with acne from my teen years until about 2 years ago, when I was 29. I tried almost everything: dozens of dermatologists and their own suggestions, and prescriptions over the years, naturopath remedies, Roaccutan cure (twice ->this really helped but was extremely drying, didn’t really mind as my skin was quite oily). What changed everything (or maybe it was just a fortuitous constellation of everything) was when I went vegetarian and forsake sugar, processed food and dairy. I didn’t eat much to begin with, but still, my skin cleared up completely. Nowadays I only have the occasional zit once or twice a month, but nothing like the big, hurtful cystic acne I was used to. (Oh and when I changed my diet I also started using some of Paula’s Choice greener products, her AHA and BHA exfoliators, maybe they also contributed to the magic.)

    Some dermatologists suggested I go on the pill as a solution, but since my hormones were perfect and my cycle was punctual with no pain at all I didn’t want to mess with my body’s natural hormonal system (which I’m glad I didn’t seeing how my friends who were on the pill experienced some problems, from minors like acne coming on after they stopped taking the pill to some severe ones like 2 friends who had to wait years!! (and do countless things) to get their period back, and another friend who was the exception to the rule: despite the low hormone her pill contained, it messed with her pancreas, brought out her sensitivity to insulin and she became a diabetic, and I could go on, so I’m really glad I didn’t go that way, as the pill would have only soothed a superficial symptom, but as soon as you stop taking it, it would have come back.

    Sorry for the lengthy post, I really hope your struggles with acne will soon clear up, but until then lots of hugs, I know what you’re going through!

  • Reply
    June 20, 2017 at 7:50 am

    I’ve been frustrated with still having acne as badly as many teens. Dermalmd blemish serum helps me to control my acne and feel healthy at the same time. I’ve been on antibiotics for acne and have had very frustrating side effects from them, so it’s nice to have a medicine that won’t cause any adverse side affects. Definitely worth the money!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Maven,

    Thanks for sharing your story, and yeah acne is unwanted for everyone and it can make us depressed and nervous. Thanks for sharing and
    Will read part 2 asap.

    Keep it up.

  • Reply
    Lioness Ibadovna
    May 2, 2018 at 6:13 am

    Dermalmd blemish serum is great! I have been struggling with adult acne. I changed my face washing routine and added this. It helps get rid of acne a lot quicker than anything else I have used.

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