madk madk
last year

Was this a tretinoin purge (or a bad reaction)?

During 2021-2022 I was prescribed tretinoin for developing some cystic acne. Previously, I had acne of various kinds (pimples, closed comedones, blackheads, etc).

Tretinoin cleared out my cystic acne. Yet, I couldn’t tell if it helped with anymore because of my skins reactions (major breakouts for long period of times). I’m not sure if I was purging, as I never really saw my skin “clear up.”

I’m considering going back in tretinoin after seeing the results others have had after their purging periods. The images below are give or take what my entire journey on tretinoin looked like.

My skin has cleared up greatly but lately I’ve noticed some breakouts that seem to be cystic. Tretinoin is my back up plan to my current routine.

Was this a tretinoin purge (or a bad reaction)?

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Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if it was a purge from the pictures. It very well could have been "purging". The good news is that tretinoin (and other retinoids) can be used over a long period of time. Many people start on it for acne and then continue using for years for anti-aging benefits. What I am trying to say is that if you saw good results from it in the past, it's is very likely to help you again - yet, I am not a doctor and this isn't a medical advice. If I were you, I'd try it again. I'd go slowly - applying it 3 times per week in the first month and then slowly increasing the frequency. I'd also make sure to use a good fragrance-free moisturizer twice a day and whenever my skin feels dry and cleanse the skin very gently to avoid damaging the skin barrier. I hope this is helpful - best of luck on your journey! Also, maybe this guide to creating a good routine for acne-prone skin can be useful: https://whatsinmyjar.com/skin-guide/skincare-routine-acne-prone-clogged-pores/

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Hello Maria, thank you for your reply!

I’ve decided to hold off getting back on tretinoin. At some point in the future I would like to give it another try! For now I’ve decided to take my time with my skin and when I’m ready I’ll give tretinoin another shot.

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I wish I could help, but I'm no expert. I remember trying OTC products and dermatologist-prescribed medications for my acne when I was younger. Much of what I tried made my skin worse, but people I didn't know kept telling me to stick with it because my skin was just "purging." My Mom, on the other hand, told me the "purging" thing was absolute nonsense and to stop using the products. I ended up following her advice and eventually found a routine that worked for me. Since everybody is different, it's always a process of trial and error to find what works for each person. I can share what we've been trying with my eldest daughter, as she's been battling acne for the last few years. When she faithfully used the topical medications our dermatologist prescribed, her skin got worse to the point I told her to stop using them because they appeared to just be aggravating the problem. We've tried various products and, at the moment, are using Thayer's Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner with Aloe and then applying a thick layer of benzoyl peroxide to her problem areas (mostly forehead) every night. She washes her face with either Bondi Sands Fresh'n Up Gel Cleanser or Cetaphil Restoraderm (for when her skin gets a little too dry). I've also helped her clean up her diet, cut out greasy chocolate, and drink a lot more water daily. So far, her skin has cleared to a degree, but it's an ongoing challenge. I really hope you find the answers that help you. Good luck!

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*UPDATE: I recently started my daughter on a regimen I used religiously in my younger years and is one of the things that helped me. I had used it on her several years ago, but she complained about the smell so much that I gave up. But it worked so well for me that I decided to give it another go with my daughter. We have been seeing VERY good results to the point that she is no longer complaining about the smell and now asks me to please use this inexpensive and extremely effective treatment on her face. It's just simple apple cider vinegar. I DO NOT get the brand that is organic and contains "the mother" because I don't want it so acidic that it gives her a chemical burn. So I'm using exactly what I used on myself ages ago--Heinz All Natural Apple Cider Vinegar with 5% acidity. But it is critical to dilute the solution! I have always mixed it as one part apple cider vinegar to EIGHT parts water to avoid irritation.

Anyway, it works very, very well. For me and my daughter, it seems to reduce the amount of oil the skin is producing, clears up redness--including from old acne spots (we have very fair skin, so healed lesions continue to show up as a red dot for ages), softens the skin, and unclogs pores by naturally exfoliating the skin without any scrubbing. It also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

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Hi JBL, thank you for sharing some of you and your daughter’s experience!

I definitely relate to what you shared at the beginning. For now I have decided not to get back on tretinoin, instead I’m back to the basics (no actives!)

I’m interested in exploring your apple cider regime!

And again thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it ((:

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Sure thing and I hope you find something that helps you! :)

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