Friday, October 2, 2009

Ack! Acne!

Diagnosis: Cystic Acne. One possible cause? Testosterone, of all things.

It's all beginning to make sense.

Way back in 2001 I was diagnosed with a microscopic pituitary tumor. The pituitary gland is the one that regulates hormone production. What happened with me is that I started to produce breast milk. This was quite disconcerting and had me heading to the doctor. Blood levels showed the hormone Prolactin to be moderately elevated. A MRI confirmed the presence of the tumor. Fortunately, these tumors are almost always benign and I went through a short course of oral chemotherapy in order to shrink it. Did it shrink? I don't know. There never was a repeat MRI done of my brain.

During this time I also visited an endocrinologist. The labs drawn in his office did show an increased testosterone level. I asked if that is why my hair was falling out and he just laughed. I fired him because he wasn't taking me seriously. They also drew thyroid panels: my values were all within normal range and couldn't explain the other symptoms I was, and still are, experiencing which included cold insensitivity and fatigue.

I've had other "minor" issues since about that time. In addition to my hair continuing to thin my gynecologist found a minor cyst that developed on my ovary.
But the worst issue, by far, is the severe acne that has reared it's ugly "head" (pun intended) on my face. These hard, swollen, and inflamed nodules develop deep beneath the skin's surface. It is very painful. It doesn't help that I'm a "picker" which only makes matters worse.

But there is hope. I've begun the following medication regimen to the tune of $150 out of pocket expenses:
Solodyn: a tetracycline type antibiotic recently approved by the FDA for specifically targeting acne. Unfortunately, this medication is very cost prohibitive ($400-900, even with prescription plans). Ouch! Fortunately, when 1st prescribed you receive a card that is used like secondary insurance. In effect, the 1st month is free and the next 2 months you only have to pay a $10 copay. Hopefully by then my face will be much better and I can come off the antibiotic.

The next oral medication is one called Spironolactone. Yea! A generic with a $10 copay. But in researching this medication I found that it is normally used as a diuretic that is used to treat high blood pressure and reduce swelling (edema). I'm on a very low dose so maybe it will reduce the redness and swelling of the pustules popping up all over my face!

Topical medications include Finacea (which I've been using for years) and Differin, a new one for me. Finacea is for my rosacea and Differin is used to decrease the number and severity of pimples and to promote quick healing of pimples that do develop. Total cost around $130

The CereVe is the moisturizing product that the dermatologist recommends I use. It was fairly reasonable, around $13.

You know the sad thing about all of this? I just spent money on Mary Kay skin care treatment products that I am now NOT allowed to use.

I be sure to let you all know if these medications work or were a big waste of money.

PS...I wish to extend a warm welcome to my new "Bloggy Buddies". I hope to be able to entertain you and to provide information you might find worthy of your time spent over at the Sister House!


Lissaloo said...

Wow, I hope it all works well and quickly! Dr's are such a pain, they never seem to know what's going on, Thank God for Nurses :)

Life Laugh Latte said...

That sounds horrible. Hey...why don't you do a blog giveaway and package up those Mary Kay products. Maybe it will get you Followers and take your mind off of the money:) LOL Have a great day. Holly at

ChristineM said...

Sounds like some potent stuff! Hope it works for you! I had more than my share of acne when I was a teen...I better not get it again! >:) Good luck!

5thsister said...

Holly...great idea! I'll put my thinking cap on. Meanwhile, maybe you could have a contest with creative ways to use OB's! Still chuckling about Charisse's mission to find tampons in Spain! LOL!

Holly said...

Oy Acne! Hope these new products work out and you can say bye-bye acne.

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

Oh dear, hope all goes well!

Jephy's Mom said...

Your posts sometimes remind me of the "No Shame Zone" on the Doctors show. I remember when you did the Netti Pot thing a while back. I'd never seen that before either. It's a good thing to be able to share such information because I'm sure someone will benefit. I say that knowing that I wouldn't have the guts to do it myself. Thanks for being so open. Good luck.

5thsister said...

Aw gee thanks, JMom! That is my intention. I may be too open sometimes but it's my nature. I miss you on our GNAT outings.

Jephy's Mom said...

I miss GNAT too! The first thing I did every morning was check the GNAT thread. I'm still waiting for you to bring it back.

Willoughby said...

Ouch! That's some expensive medication!

My son has acne (teenage acne, different from yours, I'm sure) so we've spent a good amount on topical OTC products. Tahoe Girl gave me the name of a product that I've been meaning to order, it's supposed to help with acne as well as reduce small lines on your face (not that I have any!). Its called aqua glycol.


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