I had a breakout, but I'm 90% certain it was caused by some new supplements I started taking. I stopped taking those supplements and the breakout did not get worse and started healing up - all during the part of my cycle when I normally do experience one huge final flare up. I'll explain more, but first, why did I start with some new supplements in the first place?
Well, I'm obsessed with having clear skin. Like everyone else here - lol! So while my skin was looking pretty great, I know I have issues with insulin resistance, as evidenced by the fact that cinnamon with meals really helps me. So I thought, I'll keep trying other supplements known to help with insulin resistance and my skin will just get better, right?
I also got a weird, cyst-pimple thing in my cleavage in the spot right under my bra underwire. It's a weird spot, and I don't get acne there very often and I figured it was due to my underwire irritating my skin. It didn't go away and I could see what I thought was pus underneath this small lump of skin.
It turns out it was sebaceous hyperplasia - an enlarged oil gland, basically. (http://on.aol.com/video/enlarged-oil-glands--sebaceous-hyperplasia-516970677).
So all of the difficult acne I've had that takes ages to go away is not actually acne - they rarely get inflamed so there is no bacteria - just a lot of sebum that's trapped in the oil gland with no where to go since it's not a blockage in the hair follicle.
So of course, this must be due too much oil which is caused by too much testosterone, right? Since I was having so much success with cinnamon, I thought I'd up the ante with alpha liopic acid - said to be very good for acne, insulin resistance, etc. Then I read that NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) works to increase alpha liopic acid's effects. It is also supposed to be good for detoxing the liver, which I believe is necessary to ensure old hormones are evacuated from your body. I've been taking Milk Thistle for this, but thought I'd try NAC as a double whammy.
I'm pretty sure NAC caused my breakout. It started with a weird painful welt near the corner of my lip - a place I have never broken out before. Then I got two inflamed spots on my chin that never really came to a head but were very red and oozing watery puss. Like abscesses I guess. I don't get that kind of acne very often - usually, once the inflammation goes down, it's just a small plug that comes out with a bit of sebum.
So i stopped taking NAC and Alpha Liopic Acid. In fact, all I'm taking is my herbal supplement and the cinnamon, and for the last few days it's been fine. I'll add back my supplements one at a time to see what difference, if any, they make.
The lesson? Be very careful with supplements and only start one at a time!
I'm rethinking every supplement too - for the last 3 years I've taken zinc pretty faithfully. I also started getting sebaceous hyperplasia more in the last 3 years too. I do remember wondering if zinc was causing me to get a different type of pimples, because while zinc would clear up the inflammation on some cysts that I had, I was left with lots of sebum that I would eventually squeeze out. I recently read that zinc increases testosterone (although it also acts as a DHT inhibitor too) so maybe that's contributing to the overactive oil glands?
I'm not discouraged though. Well, I was for a few days, but I have a plan:
- Continue to explore ways to reduce insulin resistance, but instead of through supplements, I will focus on exercise and diet (including just eating smaller portions, drinking water with lemon before meals too)
- De-stressing - I was starting to get sucked into the restrictive diet world, and it was stressing me out. And I have a lot of anxiety in my life right now - with having to move in a few months, moving in with my fiance, job stress, life, etc. And I realize, I don't have many healthy ways to de-stress. So I need to get off my butt and go to a yoga class and start jogging again. Or just dance around in my living room and stop obsessing over acne.
- I'm gonna keep reading up on PCOS. Apparently, there is more than one type of PCOS, and insulin resistance is just one part of it.
- Finally, I need a plan for when I do get a breakout. I can't freak out and attack my face with my fingers or harsh spot treatments anymore. I swear, I cause way more damage that way. I need a gentle spot treatment, I need a stash of antibiotics (I took just 2 and felt instant relief for this last breakout- placebo effect? maybe!) and I need professional help for those difficult breakouts - if I need to I should get a cortisone shot or something. I found a day spa that uses the skin classic for hyperplasia, so I think I'll go in and ask about it.
Other than all of that, things are going well. I have to say that I really love Finacea. I can use it with AHA or BHA with no problems - it doesn't dry out my skin and it gets rid of hyperpigmentation pretty quickly too. I still need to try pairing it with zinc and b6 - supposedly that combo inhibits DHT in skin by 90%. And maybe zinc will be that gentle spot treatment I've been on a quest for?
Oh yes, I finally got to use my Nexcare acne patches that I bought from ebay. (Google this!) They worked beautifully to drain all the pus from my breakouts - I don't get these types of pimples very often, but I will never be without a stash of these little lifesavers either.