Medications

How to Get Rid of Acne: What FINALLY Worked for Me

As I’ve mentioned in my post about my history with cystic acne, I’ve had acne for well over a decade. Knowing exactly how to get rid of acne has always been a bit of a mystery to me, and it seemed like everything I tried never fully worked.

Since I’ve already written about this, I won’t go into tons of detail but, as a refresher for anyone new to the blog, I’ve been on antibiotics, topical retinoids, I’ve tried Proactive and Curology, I’ve used benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, aloe vera gel, and just about everything else that might help clear up my acne. Literally nothing worked long term.

I stopped eating dairy, I stopped eating gluten, I put all of these ridiculous dietary restrictions on myself and none of it helped. In fact, some of the treatments I tried made my skin ten times worse.

And now, finally, after 13 years of having acne, I found out how to get rid of acne for good. At least, I know the acne treatment routine that has finally worked for me.

December 2017 – Probably the single worst breakout I’ve ever had. You can read my post about taking saw palmetto for acne to learn more. (Click to enlarge)
July 2018 – not a single pimple, just scars. (Click to enlarge)

If you, like me, have tried everything in the book (minus Accutane — that is the one drug I wanted to stay away from), I hope that this acne treatment regime can work for you too.

Obviously, you should never, EVER start taking a medication without consulting your doctor, so if you want to try this acne treatment routine, please talk with your dermatologist and/or family doctor first. In fact, you’ll pretty much have to, as my acne treatment process involves two prescription medications.

To find out what these medications are and how I’ve coupled them with a regular skincare routine, just keep reading.

How to Get Rid of Acne

First off, here are the prescription medications I used to get rid of my acne:

  • Spironolactone
  • Birth control pill
  • Tretinoin topical cream

Before I started Spironolactone and the pill together, I had actually been prescribed each of them separately. However, my current dermatologist informed me that being on both Spironolactone and a form of the birth control pill at the same time can be especially helpful in treating hormonal acne in women.

Interestingly, the dermatological community isn’t entirely sure why these two kinds of treatments work so well to get rid of acne; they just do.

Furthermore, both medications are safe to take long-term, unlike antibiotics, which are often prescribed as acne treatments, but which can only be taken for a short amount of time.

Spironolactone is a water pill or diuretic medication, and is generally prescribed to people who have high blood pressure or who retain additional water in their bodies. However, it can also be used to treat high levels of aldosterone, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland.

Birth control pills come in many different options. Some contain different levels of both estrogen and progestin hormones, while others may only contain progestin. My dermatologist prescribed me the Enskyce birth control pill, which is a combination pill.

I had already been prescribed Tretinoin by another doctor, but it hadn’t done much to help my acne on its own. However, my dermatologist decided it would be good to stay on it in addition to taking the Spironolactone and birth control.

By taking the two medications and applying the Trentinoin at night, I was finally able to clear up my acne.

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Watching My Acne Clear Up

As with any kind of acne treatment, this one was also a bit of a waiting game.

The first month, I didn’t notice much improvement in my skin, but I could tell the water pill and birth control were doing something because the skin around my mouth and jawline started to dry out a bit.

Because I primarily suffer from hormonal cystic acne, my lower cheeks and jawline were definitely some of the most affected. As my skin started drying out, I did notice that I didn’t seem to be getting as many pimples, but I still wouldn’t say my face was anywhere close to being clear.

March 29, 2018, during my first month of being on Spironolactone and birth control.

Around months two to three, I started seeing a significant decrease in the number of new pimples, along with less redness in my skin.

May 3, 2018, somewhere between two to three months of being on my acne medications.

And now, just shy of four months of being on Spironolactone and birth control, I can confidently say that my acne is completely gone.

July 15, 2018, after following my acne treatment routine four about four months.

It felt like it took awhile for the medications to really work, but once I started seeing results I continued to see improvements each week, and I would say the entire process actually happened pretty quickly after the results started to show.

Understanding What It Means to Not Have Acne

Now I maybe get one or two pimples a week, which is a huge step up from waking up with several new pimples each morning. Furthermore, the pimples I do get now are small and don’t get very sore at all. And, as long as I leave them alone, they go away after a few days.

Whereas I was getting major hormonal and cystic acne several months ago, my skin today is completely clear.

Literally, the only issue I have with my skin now is the level of scarring on my face from the horrible acne I had in the past.

Treating my acne scars are going to be an entirely different issue (and I’ve already done a few things to treat them) but, for now, I’m just glad I’ve gotten rid of my acne. Dealing with a few scars seems like a piece of cake.

My Daily Acne Treatment Skincare Routine

I’ve posted before about my daily skincare routine. However, as my acne treatment process has evolved so has my skincare regimen.

I’ve cut out using toners, essences and any additional moisturizers or creams. For me, I find that the more I put on my face, the more likely it is that I’ll break out.

Instead, I’ve stuck to using a non-irritating cleansing oil, followed by a foaming facial cleanser and a water-based moisturizer. In the evenings, I’ll also add in either my Tretinoin cream or a vitamin C suspension from The Ordinary. I use this one that is silicone-free.

I switch off between using the Tretinoin and the vitamin C suspension at night and that’s been working really well for me.

I’ll also occasionally mix in some niacinamide serum (vitamin B) into my moisturizer in the mornings. I’d estimate I do this once or twice a week, but not more than that.

Here’s a simple list of all the skincare products that are currently a part of my daily/weekly skincare routine:

And there you have it!

One thing I really like about this entire acne treatment routine is that it’s extremely affordable. At least, with my health insurance plan, my prescriptions are never more than a few dollars each.

Assuming a pay $9 per each medication (which is highballing it), and I add the retail prices for each of the skincare products listed above (not including any sales or discounts which is how I usually buy them), the total startup cost of my acne treatment routine is $89.

Since the skincare products I use all last well over a month at a time, then it’s basically just the general maintenance costs of buying the prescriptions each month, which would be about $27 a month, max.

f you wanted to try this routine and save as much money as possible, I would say just try to get the prescriptions and keep using whatever skincare products you have. That way you’re basically just looking at the $27 and whatever your copay is to see your doctor.

Get Rid of Acne for Good

For a long time it felt like this day would never come. I still can’t believe that my acne is actually gone. I think it’ll really start to sink in as I make progress with getting rid of my acne scars but, until then, I’m just enjoying waking up without new pimples each morning.

Unfortunately, every person’s skin is different, and what works for me may not work for you. However, if you’ve been trying everything you can think of to get rid of acne and haven’t found what works for you yet, give this combination a try and let me know how it goes!

I hope you find the cure for your acne soon.

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