I mentioned a while ago about the interesting trial in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology in which they studied people with rosacea. They noticed a high prevalence of intestinal bacteria overgrowth in about half of the rosacea patients and effectively cured most of them by administering a strong intestinal antibiotic called rifaximin–exciting news to say the least. I immediately got highly interested in this potential link between the gut and skin. However, I looked around and there have not been any studies like this done on acne patients.

So, I decided to guinea pig myself. Acne and rosacea are not the same disease, but they have similarities, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to get checked myself for intestinal bacteria overgrowth. I went to multiple doctors and finally found one who would refer me to the right GI (gastrointestinal) specialist who agreed to administer gut bacteria tests on me. The first test was a stool test called the Stool H. Pylori Antigen test. Yeah, gross. And the second was a three hour breath test called a Lactulose Hydrogen Breath Test. Both came out negative.

The search continues, but I find the gut/acne connection to be potentially an interesting area of research. If any of you have intestinal issues such as cramping, bloating, gas, etc. and get checked for intestinal bacteria overgrowth including what they call SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth) or H. pylori, please let me know. If you take rifaxamin for it, I’d also love to know how your skin reacts afterward.

I got an email from an acne.org member encouraging me to try this electric razor. It has a head which rotates extremely fast and the makers advertise that it cuts hair up to 270 times a second. It is a wet shaver that you use in the shower with shaving cream, or in my case, lather from Acne.org cleanser. I tried it for three days, hoping to give it a little time to get used to it and nail the technique. Unfortunately, it never worked well for me. No matter how hard I pressed it didn’t provide anything near a close shave. I prefer a close shave. Otherwise I end up feeling kinda gross toward the end of the day. Also, it took a while to complete the shave–quite a bit longer than with a 2-blade razor. It felt more irritating than a 2-blade as well. While it was not the most irritating electric I’ve tried, it did still have the feel of an electric. In other words, horrendous. I am pretty much giving up on trialing electrics at this point. I’ve tried probably a dozen of them and none have come even close to producing the low irritation and close shave of a 2-blade razor. Lastly, I got some obvious irritation on my neck, as electrics are wont to do. You can’t see it well in the picture, but it was pretty gross lookin’ for a day or two.

Bottom line: When comparing the rotoshave to 2-blade razors, and the Gillette Trac II Plus in particular, it is no contest. The Trac II Plus wins hands down. Every electric razor I have ever tried is irritating. This one was no exception.

One potential use: For people with lots of pustules and very bumpy, irregular skin, who prefer a shave that is not very close, this shaver may be worth a try. Since it does not offer a close shave, it may be less likely to nick very bumpy skin with lots of active acne.

[Acne.org’s guide to shaving]

Someone emailed me recently to ask about napkins and if they were a potential source of irritation. We know that irritation of any kind—like picking at the skin, facemasks rubbing against the skin, and hats binding the skin of the forehead—can potentially aggravate acne. This is why it might seem like every time you get a cold you tend to break out on your nose in the immediate aftermath. You’ve simply been irritating the skin around the nose with constant blowing.

Napkins, much like tissues, are an unavoidable part of life. We all get messy at times. So it’s best to simply reduce the potential amount of irritation when using napkins. My best advice for when you get something on your face while you eat is to gently wipe it off with a napkin and then be done with it. Avoid wetting the napkin, and avoid washing your face during the day. Twice a day is the most you ever want to wash. Simply wipe up the spill and try to avoid rubbing too hard or for too long. An occasional spill, when cleaned gently, needn’t lead to a breakout.

I’ve always said I think everyone should have some jojoba oil around. It’s brilliant in moisturizer, and is also nice for a ton of other things. I use it as lip balm before bed and if I ever get a massage I bring it along as a non-comedogenic massage oil. My female friends tell me it’s a great make-up remover too.

We decided that to encourage people to try it we’d offer free shipping if you include one in your order for the month of February.

If you can’t order online, you can get organic jojoba oil at most health food stores too. It’s definitely worth trying.

I’ve been looking into light therapy (red and blue light) and also laser therapy (Diode, Pulsed Dye, LHE, Isolaz) for a while now. It’s a bleak picture for light therapy, and just downright confusing when it comes to laser therapy. New Light and Laser pages here.

Light: My gut tells me it doesn’t do much. Yes, that’s just a gut read, but it seems backed up by some of the science. Even the British Journal of Dermatology states, “our review found only limited or no benefit is given by light therapies alone.”

Laser: I have a bit more confidence in laser therapy, albeit tenuous. I don’t think it works well enough to make it worth it, since there are less painful, easier ways to get the job done more effectively. Plus, the research just isn’t there showing whether it works. But, I have my fingers crossed for the future of laser therapy. I’m hoping we can find a way to specifically target sebaceous (oil) glands with lasers and cook ’em good. If we can heavily damage sebaceous glands and reduce their output of sebum (oil), that would potentially be pretty amazing.