As a teenager, I was fortunate to have clear, glowing, radiant skin. I thought that meant that I had escaped acne for good, until I moved to Paris at age 21, and overnight, to my horror was besieged by a crop of unsightly acne on my chin. At first, I attributed it to the change of climate, too many croissants, pollution and cigarette smoke, but when I was still plagued with acne three months later, I went in for a check-up. It turns out that I had developed cystic acne, due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). When over-the-counter products failed to clear my inflamed chin, I tried a prescription retinoid, which helped somewhat but left my skin red, peeling and constantly dehydrated. Worse, every few months my acne would return with a vengeance.
I continued to suffer from cystic acne for the next ten years, reluctantly treating with retinoids with variable success. Then, at age 31, Continue reading