Happy New Year! 2013 didn't start out as I hoped it would. Just got back from the derm and had to get 3 more spots injected with cortisone to reduce the inflammation and swelling. What the heck happened?? Well, I was wondering that too, since I was on such an awesome path with the spiro. Like anyone who has ever struggled with acne, or any kind of medical issue for that matter, I've googled a bajillion "solutions" to the problem. There are a lot of theories out there, most are a little crazy, but one thing I noticed during all that googling is that dairy kept appearing as a trigger. And while most articles admit that dermatologists do not officially consider dairy a cause of acne, recent studies have been able to link the hormones found in milk with acne-inducing hormones found in a human body. After all, milk and all dairy products come from a pregnant cow, so no wonder it can effect your body's own hormone levels. For me, hormones are absolutely the #1 cause of my acne. So the spiro has been awesome at curbing those major outbreaks usually brought on by stress or PMS. My birth control pill has also been a huge help. And for the little clogged pores, tretinoin cream is still working out really well.
So back to the milk.. Totally unrelated to my acne, I stopped consuming dairy products about 6 months ago after my friends and my boyfriend convinced me that I was lactose intolerant. It would go something like this:
Me: ouch my stomach hurts.
Friends: oh no, what did you eat today?
Me: yogurt for breakfast and ice cream after dinner.
Multiply that scenario by about 5+ years and you can see why I finally admitted to myself that maybe, just maybe, my body had a hard time digesting lactose and hence the belly aches. Since I've stopped eating it (did I mention how much I miss ice cream???) I've felt great. No stomach aches, no diarrhea (sorry for the TMI but it's true!) and no cramping.
Simultaneously, I've been starting a new regimen of spiro and loving it. Had a few ups and downs but overall my oil production is basically zero, my makeup stays in place like magic, and I don't even have to wash my hair every day which is a miracle considering how oily I used to get.
Last week I went to the lab at my doctor's office for a lactose intolerance test. I wanted to be 100% sure I had to say goodbye to ice cream and pizza and cannolis before cutting them out, I didn't want to be missing out on something if it's wasn't even really a problem to begin with! The lab tech made me drink 12 ounces of pure lactose that tasted AWFUL and was like a big syrupy glass of luke-warm milk. Bleh. Then I had to sit around there for 3 hours while they tested my reaction at 15 minute intervals. Still haven't heard back from the lab about the results, but I'll tell you this: MY FACE WENT BANANAS.
Literally, the next day, I had about 4-5 super super red pimples on my face that were well on their way to becoming big swollen cysts. This probably sounds dramatic, and I know people can exaggerate, but I'm not even kidding... I went from having calm, normal-colored skin with a few little clogged pores here and there that no one would bat an eye at to having a red, inflamed, out of control complexion. I'm not a scientist, nor a doctor, but it's pretty crystal clear to me now that dairy, or lactose, or whatever you want to call it, is not a good idea for me. After months of getting my acne under control (not to mention the years I've spent struggling with it) suddenly it became obvious that dairy is a trigger for inflammation. It seemed like any little spot on my face went from being calm to being VERY angry almost overnight. Not fun.
I went to the derm today to get some of the spots injected with cortisone and asked her about a possible link. After telling her the history, she said that it's very very likely dairy is a "trigger" for my breakouts, just like gluten is for some other people, and that I should avoid it given what it seems to have caused. She said it's not uncommon for food allergies to manifest some symptoms in your complexion.
So.... needless to say I'm done with dairy. Soy milk is delicious, especially the vanilla flavored one from Whole Foods, and I'm taking a daily vitamin D pill that my primary care doctor recommended. I will miss ice cream for sure, but I won't miss my red, inflamed skin! Hoping once these bumps go down I will be back on track with my spiro success. I tend to be weary of people or articles that claim to have found a "cure" or a "cause" of acne, since so much of it depends on each person's individual situation. So I'm certainly not trying to say "everyone should stop eating dairy, it causes acne" duh that would suck and all the ice cream vendors would go out of business and that would be a very sad day. It's just so clear to me after this "experiment" (that was accidental in terms of testing dairy's effect on my skin) I can't eat it anymore! Maybe the best thing to do if you're curious whether a certain food (milk, gluten, etc.) is messing up your complexion is to cut it out of your diet for a few months, then carefully watch what happens when you re-introduce it. My derm said it's obvious there's a link there for me, so if you try testing out the theory you should pretty clearly be able to tell if it causes a reaction to occur. Sorry for all the exclamation points, I'm a little shocked myself at how obvious the connection was for me. Clear as day on Tuesday, drank a bunch of lactose, red inflamed yucky face on Wednesday.
Also as a last note, I'm still really glad I didn't take the accutane route. It might have cleared my skin in the short term, but I never would have realized the link between my hormones and dairy consumption with inflammation and breakouts. Trying to look forward and stay positive and although this breakout sucks and makes me feel like I took 12 giant leaps backwards -- at least now I know what to avoid and how to better manage my skin. But god, I'm going to miss ice cream!