My experience with acne

I apologize in advance if this post is going to be way too long…I’ve got a lot to say. I have started this blog because I have always had skin issues and these issues began with acne about 20 years ago. Yes I know that is a tremendous amount of time to be suffering with a condition of any kind. And why? Because no one thinks that this is a serious enough issue. But as you will see (if you have the patience to read through) acne is more than just something that ruins your appearance. Most doctors even today don’t think it’s a big deal, not even when the patients are aged over 18. But it IS a big deal. Acne can have many causes, and I wish that my cause was investigated back then. I now realize there are many more problems that resulted from what caused my acne, than what meets the eye.  For reference my acne has been moderate all my life lately milder as a result of some inhumane efforts that I have made to remedy it. So let’s take a look at what can cause acne, briefly. I will elaborate on my own cause more, as it is far more complicated.

1. Excess bacteria on the skin. This one is fairly easy and if it’s just the fact that you aren’t cleansing your skin well enough, that can be easily helped.

2. Reactions to food. Most specifically issues related to inflammation, and this is something than needs to be discussed together with the most common yet complicated cause.

3. Hormones. And when I say hormones, I don’t just mean periods girls (if you are a guy reading this then this might not apply to you as I can only look at this from a female point of view, sorry). I mean the whole endocrine system. Most people do not understand that nearly everything that has to do with the functioning of our body and brain is somehow connected to the endocrine system. The human body has more than 50 hormones that govern different activities inside us. Messengers that control and coordinate activities in the body, affect how we digest food, sleep, develop sexually and feel emotionally.

My cause is hormonal. How do I know? Because I’m 32 and still have spots to some extent. It is far better than it was 5 years ago or when I first had my period aged 13. Unfortunately for me it wasn’t just the acne that a hormone imbalance has caused. I have always had hair in areas where a woman shouldn’t really. Stomach, lower back, upper lip etc. And when I reached my late twenties I started loosing hair from my head as well as from my eyebrows, which were always nice and dense. Grey hairs are now sprouting up almost weekly on top of all that. And I believe that is also due to hormones. Stress causes chemical reactions in the body which in turn causes more hormonal “turbulence”. Everything is in interaction in the body and figuring out how all these relate to each other is a completely separate field in medicine. Endocrinologists have the most interesting yet most difficult job in figuring out how to help patients. I have never been to one purely because on the NHS here in the UK doctors don’t prescribe natural alternatives for balancing hormones. The answer would have been the pill which I’m never going to take anymore. More on that later.

What I’ve tried and didn’t work 100%

  •  Eliminating dairy. It worked to a certain extent and the inflammation that it encourages has been reduced, however I still had some spots.
  • Seabuckthorn oil capsules. These are meant to reduce inflammation which worked a treat for the rosacea but did little for my acne.
  • The Pill. I took Dianette when I was 18. The result? Constant nausea that I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t function properly during the day because of it. Spots gone for the time I took it then came back as soon as I came off of it. Then I tried Yasmin later in my twenties. Took it for about 4 years. My hair started falling out, that might have been happening because of the stress I had in my life back then, but also because of the pill too. Unsure of it, I stopped taking. Never mind that while I was on it, the spots never quite stopped completely (80% success rate) and libido was 0%, to the point where I wasn’t even looking at handsome guys anymore. Not an experience that I will ever repeat. I’m not going to lecture anyone on why they shouldn’t take it as it is a very personal choice, but do your research and take an informed decision. Know, that any medicine that is manufactured has many more components to it than the active ingredient and in turn it may do more harm than good, or cause side effects that you need to take yet another medicine for,to remedy.
  • Cutting sugar down to a minimum. 90% success rate, although this is hard to keep up as hidden sugars are everywhere. This was possibly the best thing until I tried…
  • Saw Palmetto.  Controversial because it can interfere ( and is meant to) with your hormones, blocking something called DHT that is thought to be involved in male pattern hair loss. It is mainly taken by men for benign prostate enlargement. It can work for women too as it has phytoestrogens that mimic the female hormones in the body and balance out excess testosterone that is responsible for acne and excess hair in weird places. Side effect wise I had loose stools for about 2 weeks, after which everything went back to normal
  • +1 spearmint tea. Same as Saw Palmetto it is meant to have the same effect plus great for the gut too.

Today I have a face that still has some acne on it. Having taken Saw Palmetto for more than 3 months I can conclude the following. It works 95%. After the 3 week mark I have noticed that my skin was clearing up rapidly. For 2 months after that I barely wore any base on my face of any kind and I was told by a few people that I look really fresh and glowy. Past the 3 months I’m now having spots again. Not a load but a few. It’s always on my jawline by the way, and according to Chinese face mapping this indicates hormonal causes.

The next thing I’m trying is Omega 3 capsules. If that doesn’t work then I’ll give up and go to a Chinese doctor and ask for advice as I heard they have a few herbs up their sleeve that can help with hormone balance.

You might have noticed that the things I talked about were all internal remedies. External topical treatments will be another post, or rather individual reviews but those are more geared to treat existing spots than to prevent them, as with hormonal causes it is not possible to do it from the outside.

In conclusion I have to say that I don’t think that this problem is given the attention that it needs. Having taken Saw Palmetto I also felt strangely calmer than before. It certainly affects your mood as a woman when you are physically more balanced inside. It just goes to show how incredibly important it is to go to a doctor or a good naturopath, who can help you figure it out and as my example shows it, it can save you up to 20 years of suffering, frustration and self esteem issues.

Our skin is a window to our health. I take mine seriously whenever it warns me that something’s wrong on the inside. Remember that your health is the single most important thing in this life.

If you’ve got any tips or you know you’ve got hormonal imbalance and tried something that worked, please share, maybe someone can find their cure too.

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