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Old 03-29-2013, 11:12 AM   #1
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Default Help with cystic acne

Eventually I will make a dermatologist appointment. Until then, I'd love some advice from you all.

I went off BC in September. I'm not interested in taking medication or hormones.

My acne was really bad when I was 16 and the pill steadily helped. I'm 27 now and have been BC free for 5 months, when I broke up with my common-law partner and wanted to make sure I would have safe sex with future men.

In some ways being off BC has been amazing. My period is regular and for the first time ever, no pain, no cramps.

I went through an interesting hormone adjustment, but I'm not sure if the blinding lust was from the lower progesterone, from being single or both Ha ha.

My acne has gotten worse, the last two months in particular. I find it to be particularly under the skin. If I squeeze them, the marks last. My face is so much more marked up than it was 3 months ago, it's surprising and I'm starting to feel really insecure.

What products prevent/treat acne best without overdrying?

Do you believe that acne is caused internally, by what we eat? I'm going to start a detox experiment, which will be tough, but I need to try something. I believe I've noticed a link with overeating, processed sugar and dairy with my acne. MAYBE grains.

Any suggestions, articles, literature, product recommendations would be appreciated!

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Old 03-29-2013, 12:12 PM   #2
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souvenirdarling, I so relate to you in many ways and interestingly enough, I was just having this conversation yesterday with a good friend. Until my late 20s/early 30s I suffered with acne as well. While I did have moments of cystic acne (large bumps under the skin that sometimes would or would not surface and come to a head), mostly I just had acne and wow was it pervasive. I had it on my face as well as my back. Like many women on this site who can discuss the many different diets and weight-loss plans they've been on, I can tell you similar stories about the many things I tried to control my acne. Stopped eating chocolate, drinking caffeine, washed my face several times a day, and then there were the products, Clearisil, Oxy, Noxema, various face toners with alcohol bases to control oil...oy! It was maddening and nothing worked

I've never been on birth control so I can't speak to how this can help but I've heard many, many women say that BC does indeed help control or stop their acne.

Mostly, I think our acne issues are very particular to us. I know you said you didn't want to take medication, but I have to say that what finally did it for me was being on a short term regiment of mynocline (an antibiotic). I took it for about a year on and off going in for regular blood tests to make sure that it wasn't effecting my liver (it didn't). Also, by the time I went this route I was moving toward 30, my hormones were no longer the crazy hormones of my teen years, and my face was less oily. Don't get me wrong it's still plenty oily but in my teen years and early 20s it was OPEC nation oily! All these things combined really helped my situation.

Today, at 44, while I still struggle with a few pimples around the time of my cycle, they don't hurt and they quickly go away. I use a regular over the counter product to help the drying process along. Also, about 5 years after my acne cleared up I started to work on my overall health and losing weight. Since that time my skin became much brighter and just healthier looking as I limited processed foods (particularly things like cakes, cookies, soda, etc.) and swapped in whole, much more nutritious foods. In my case a healthier diet and drinking a lot of water daily has helped improve the look of my skin.

Sounds like you're doing your homework and I want to encourage you to keep investigating until you figure out what works best for you. First things, first STOP TOUCHING YOUR FACE, especially PICKING! I know it's tempting but you don't want the lasting effects of acne scarring. Look at your make-up if you wear it. Is it non-comedogenic? Even if it is could it contain something that aggravates your acne? Stay well hydrated with water. Use a gentle cleanser and perhaps a light topical over the counter medication with a 5-10% benzoyl peroxide formula. Yes, tweak the diet and chart not only how this impacts your skin, but how you feel when you do. And of course, when and if you decide to see a dermatologist find a well respected one who will really listen to you and provide good advice and a plan of action.

Good luck and keep us posted!

Last edited by curvynotlumpy; 03-29-2013 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:30 PM   #3
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I used to get at least three cystic acne bumps per month, I'm talkin' huge, painful bumps. My dermatologist prescribed a low dose antibiotic for my horrible, awful rosacea and I very rarely get those cystic bumps since I've been taking it. I know you wanted to avoid medication, but that's what has worked for me.

I think my Clarisonic cleansing brush has helped a lot too. They're not cheap but they do work wonders for the skin! I use a lot of Neutrogena stuff too, particularly their Naturals line because it really keeps my blackheads under control.
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Old 07-13-2013, 07:28 PM   #4
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I know this is a really old thread, but I wanted to mention that my cystic acne went away after I quit drinking milk. I can have a limited amount of fermented dairy products without causing it to flare up (yogurt, sour cream, cheese), but if I drink milk or have ice cream I'm risking getting a long lasting breakout.

My dermatologist confirmed that milk is known for causing the problem in some people.
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Old 07-21-2013, 11:33 PM   #5
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I want to second what mrainy mentioned about milk! My dermatologist mentioned to switch at the very least to organic milk or reconsider skim milk because it can sometimes exacerbate acne in some people.

Also, for the record, I tried everything for my acne ( it was so bad, covered my entire face). Then came Ac****ane. It's a big commitment and sorta indimiating but I've been acne free since! Aside from occasional stress pimples and break outs around my period.
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Old 08-07-2013, 08:20 AM   #6
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This sounds crazy but I find the tiger balm works best for cystic spots! No idea why! It's got menthol and things in so it possibly brings down inflammation?! Don't quote me on that!

There's also the old wives tale of soaking milk on a cotton pad and holding that on the spot, I've found that that reduces the life of the zit by a day or two.

However, aside from these topical remedies I do believe that food has an impact on the skin. Food affects hormones so it makes sense in that respect... Good luck with your skin clearing plan and try not to let it affect your confidence. I know it's easier said than done but we are so much more than just our outer shell!

Keep us posted!
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Old 08-10-2013, 02:48 PM   #7
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I know you said that you don't want to go on medication, but if your acne is getting really bad you might want to think about it. I am a teenager but have had cystic and regular acne since I was around 8 years old. Taking an antibiotic is the major way I control my acne. I recently started using a prescription Retin-A cream, and that seems to really by helping a lot. It does dry out my skin a little, but the zits are going away. I also use a gentle over the counter face wash called Cetaphil, which is what my dermatologist recommended I use.

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Old 08-10-2013, 04:10 PM   #8
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Zinc can help. My dermatologist recommended I use zinc pyrithione shampoo (Head & Shoulders) as my only soap (shampoo, shower gel, face).

I even fill my bathroom handsoap dispenser with it.

For flares, I was also told to use zinc oxide (baby diaper rash cream or sunblock). There's even a clear sunblock called zinc Face or Face zinc or something like that).

For me a lowish carb, low-sugar, no-grain diet has greatly improved my skin issues -mild, occasional acne, moderate rosacea, and sebborrheic dermatitis (which causes scaly patches, redness, swelling, and even an impetigo rash an oozing, crusty, insanely itchy/painful open sores).

My skin has never looked or felt better. No guarantees that you won't need medication. I still periodically have to use a prescription steroid cream, but now only a couple days a month rather than 3x a day, every day like I used to.
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:19 PM   #9
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There are a lot of articles suggesting a simple aspirin skin masque. Aspirin is known to treat inflammation internally but also has external anti inflammatory properties... And it would be an inexpensive and OTC treatment to try. Actually heard Dr Nancy Snyderman of NBC talk about it a while back. When I googled I learned about the masque some people have used. I use it locally for inconvenient spot flare ups ..
Best of luck

Last edited by 65X65; 08-10-2013 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 08-24-2013, 11:10 AM   #10
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I had similar acne when I was younger. My wonderful and generous mother paid for me to get facials which included extractions, almost every week, for a year, followed by microderm abrasion.

While I will never have baby smooth skin, it really did wonders. She helped get off the years of dead skin I had accumulated, and worked up the stuff clogging my pores in a safe way. I had a blackhead on my cheekbone that she spent a month on! Getting the skin off, working the dirt up...and when she finally cleared it, my ENTIRE cheek cleared up within a week! What she did was not pop any of the zits, but cleaned out the blackheads.

I know that is a pretty expensive option, but it was a non-hormonal method that did work pretty well for me.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:32 AM   #11
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It could be diet, I know people who have removed gluten and dairy and had positive results for their skin but there are negative health results if you are not careful to replace the nutrients and vitamins that you get from dairy and gluten items.

I heard that the Perricone Diet is good for skin issues but I have read on several forums that you don't need to buy his vitamin products and just use a good multi-vitamin or pre-natal supplement instead.
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Old 08-25-2013, 11:51 AM   #12
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I did Accutane at age 50. I worked closely with the Drs and had blood tests done every two weeks because of high tryglycerides. I wish I had done this 20 years ago as I would be living with less scaring. After loosing 90 lbs I'm off all meds and my tryglycerides are lower than when I was on meds.
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