Know Hope's Activity
Know Hope added a blog entry in Know Hope's BlogTook The Plunge - Started SpiroThis is going to be really long, to record what discoveries I've made in the last few months.
The TL;DR version: I'm now taking a low dose of spiro and supplementing with a dab of progesterone cream for the 2 weeks prior to my period. Also, I found a really good article that breaks down PCOS and acne and how to treat it holistically: http://ndnr.com/web-articles/dermatology/treating-pcos-acne-from-the-inside-out/
Last time I wrote I was frustrated with a breakout from supplements that left me with a strange, sebaceous hyperplasia looking lesion that lasted for almost a month. The rest of my skin was okay, but that one lesion really bothered me. Long story, short, for whatever reason, I experience abnormal wound healing whenever I get a very deep pimple which is far more distressing then any acne, because it's impossible to cover up and looks really strange, like a raised, round doughnut on the skin.
There is not a lot out there about sebaceous hyperplasia, but I did learn that scientists showed it can be induced when skin is injected with IGF. IGF is lowered when SHGB is raised - I thought about supplementing with green tea to raise my SHGB but quickly became discouraged by the evidence that green tea might raise testosterone.
Feeling depressed, I decided to try spiro since it has shown to be effective with SH, so I made the appointment with my derm.
Meanwhile, I have known that spiro can exacerbate estrogen dominance, so I thought, why not try to detox my body of the "bad" estrogen in preparation for spiro? My choices were DIM or Indole 3 Carbinol; the herbalist I go to had previously recommended I3C.
I took one pill a day for about 5 days during the week or so leading up to my period and experienced excruciating pain in my breasts, severe acid reflux and of course, a big breakout on my chin.
My theory is I flooded my body with phytoestrogen and released some of the "bad" estrogens and it was too much for me - maybe my liver needs more support - at any rate, I caused a major flare up of estrogen dominance.
I noticed something interesting, however. In the past, my main problem was noninflamed acne on my cheeks, with the occasional inflamed pimple that would resolve once the plug came out. Lately, my inflamed acne has gone way down and now my break outs are concentrated in my chin area and it always happens two weeks before my period like clock work.
The last two breakouts I had on my chin were weird - just these hard inflamed bumps that oozed clear liquid and a bit of watery puss - no real plug in them. Both have taken forever to heal. My theory is these are cysts caused by estrogen dominance.
So things have started to click for me. The two weeks leading up to my period is when I break out - before I never understood why, because everything you read says that's when your progesterone levels shoot up. But what I finally realized that is what a normal, healthy body is supposed to do, but if you have PCOS, then your ovaries get the message to create more estrogen and testosterone. I menstruate regularly, so I know I create progesterone, but I guess I'm a bit sluggish about it. Or maybe instead of just flipping one switch for progesterone, my body flips all 3 switches at once. Once my period comes and my estrogen and progesterone are at an all time low, my skin calms down and I convince myself I've beaten my acne only for it to get bad again in 2 more weeks.
I started taking 25 mg of spiro and for the last few days I'm taking 50 mg of spiro and I think this will be enough for me. I am at that 14 day mark of my period when I get my usual flare up, and sure enough two cysts popped up on my chin. They were smaller, but angry and painful.
I popped one and a tiny miniscule plug came out, but otherwise it was clear liquid, almost like a blister. Not like my usual pimples. And so strange that such a tiny plug would cause that level of pain/inflammation.
On the other one, I put a tiny amount of progesterone cream (Emerita sp?). Immediately, it became less inflamed. Today, it looks like there will be no need to extract the plug and that it will just go away.
So I am going to continue with spiro and take it along with vitex to encourage my body to produce progesterone/counteract any estrogen that is produced by the spiro. Days 14-26 I'll supplement with a small dab of progesterone cream - less than what is recommended because I want to be careful. According to articles on the internet, I may not have to take progesterone cream forever - I just need to retrain my body to make it on it's own at the correct levels. Progesterone inhibits alpha 5 reductase so maybe I won't have to take spiro forever either.
I'm going to keep taking the rest of my supplements that I know are good for me - like fish oil, chromium, etc. I'm also taking b-6, magnesium and zinc leading up to my period - this is supposed to fix the luteal phase defect, which is what I'm guessing I have (my ovaries produce more estrogen and testosterone instead of the right amount of progesterone to induce ovulation).
I'm going to keep taking milk thistle because it's good for my liver and fiber pills because it keeps me regular - all just to keep metabolizing and ridding my body of estrogen.
I'm going to keep treating my insulin resistance, for general health and well being. I've cut back on carbs and will keep eating better, for many health reasons.
I am not going to worry about blocking my body of estrogen for right now- my two experiments with that has not been good for me.
I feel like I've finally figured things out. I've known about spiro and progesterone cream for a long time, but didn't feel like I understood my body, cycle enough to take them. I am far from cured, but my gut is telling me that I finally found something that will work for me. I have read about horrible initial break outs from spiro and how progesterone can cause a flare up of estrogen dominance. But the truth is, if you're fiddling with your hormones, it's very unpredictable how your body will react. In the end, however, it's probably hormones that are causing your acne so it will take some trial and error to figure out what's going on.
So if anyone is reading this, my advice is this simple: know thyself. If you're a woman with acne, get a handle on your menstrual cycle. Experiment with one new supplement at a time to figure out how your body reacts. Consider that the two weeks leading up to your period, your skin might be more temperamental than usual and that might not be the best time to try something new.
And this article really is extremely helpful at explaining why women with PCOS deal with acne, and how to treat it, whether you're going for an all natural treatment or not: http://ndnr.com/web-articles/dermatology/treating-pcos-acne-from-the-inside-out/.
Best of luck to everyone out there!
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Know Hope added a blog entry in Know Hope's BlogA Setback, But Now Things Seem To Be Back On Track...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.
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Know Hope added a blog entry in Know Hope's BlogStill Clear! Omg!Finally got my period a few days ago, and I am still clear.
I got minor PMS anxiety issues and a couple of zits popped up, but I'm not worried about it! My skin looks great. I'm wearing less make up everyday and I'm extremely happy.
I'm busy too. Now that my days of obsessing over acne appears to be over, I realize I have all kinds of other stuff to deal with. Oh well!
I still want to write a post recapping everything I learned but don't have the time right now. Everything I learned is already in my blog.
To anyone reading this just know that you can figure this out too. If I cleared my skin, anyone can! No crazy diets. No birth control. No antibiotics. No accutane!
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Know Hope added a blog entry in Know Hope's BlogNo Acne, But No Period Yet Either...So I should start today, but nothing so far.
I don't get cramps or pissy moods my more, which usually told me my period was coming soon.
I think adding the cinnamon has thrown things off a bit. I forgot to mention that I was spotting last week, which is unusual (but not unheard of) for me. I read that some women spot when they're ovulating, so I thought maybe that was the case for me too. I'm not too worried, but I am really curious to see how my skin reacts to my period starting.
Also, my skin loves finacea plus Dan's AHA - read some where that its lightening effect on PIH is comparable to hydroquine. My PIH is fading nicely. And it makes my skin feel soft - who knew an acne treatment didn't have to dry out everything!?
Not much of an update! Hope everyone is well, and making their own progress!
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Know Hope added a blog entry in Know Hope's BlogStill Looking Pretty Good!My period should be here in the next couple of days and my skin is looking pretty good still!
For a few days I got pretty lax with all of my supplements, except for the cinnamon with every meal 3 times daily.
I'm pretty sure that is what caused the one pimple I got on my cheek. It went away quickly, but it bummed me out because I was getting used to having clear skin!
So I'm convinced all of this works together. Maybe cinnamon cuts down on 50% of my acne, and saw palmetto and vitex cuts down on 30% and my topicals cut down on another 15%. Or whatever. Either way, I am so much closer than I have ever been in my life.
To not be dealing with a bad flare up before my period? Unheard of. To have no pms - No bloated gross feeling? No depression? No cramps? I thought it was unavoidable - part of being a woman. The world seems like a better place now that I know I don't have to go through that every month! Anyway, the day of my period is when I get a final flare up - so I'll keep my fingers crossed!
Now that acne appears to be under control, I'm obsessed with the scars I have on my face. So I bought a PMD (google it) and will start using it once my period comes and when my skin is less sensitive.
I have one scar that really depresses me, but if I'm able to make it look better I'll be so happy!
Anyone reading this - read up on insulin resistance and acne connection!
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Know Hope added a blog entry in Know Hope's BlogWow, Still Can't Believe It!I'm due for my period in 6 days... I have not had one break out. This has never happened to me! I'm excited, but also a little freaked out. I mean, could it really be that simple?
1 cinnamon pill before every meal 3 x a day and low glycemic snacks between meals seems to do the trick. I'm still taking my regular supplements, but honestly, they never gave me the instant results cinnamon has given me.
HOWEVER, something did happen that worried me a bit. I accidentally took 2 cinnamon pills with one meal (I forgot I'd already taken one) and I saw weird flashing lights, like I was about to get a horrible migraine. I took aspirin and it eventually went away.
So I obviously need to learn more about cinnamon is doing to my insulin and glucose levels. I don't want to make the same mistake I made with saw palmetto, and take it without fully understanding it. In fact, I told my eye doctor what happened and she recommended I get a blood glucose tester to monitor my levels.
I've always suspected that I have hypoglycemia (it's probably more accurate to say reactive hypoglycemia). So I'm reading up on it, so I can understand.
Based on what I've read in the last few days, I'm convinced that reducing insulin resistance is the key to curing acne! And so many other diseases too.
I am sooooo grateful that low dose accutane didn't work for me. I am also grateful that I never went on spiro. I feel like the nightmare is over, and I can start living my life! It's exciting. When I fully understand everything I'll write my own "I cured my hormonal acne naturally" post.
Until then, all I can say is YAY! Oh and don't give up people! I thought I just had bad genes. And maybe I am genetically prone to insulin resistance - but I can still fix it. So yeah, never ever, ever give up!
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Know Hope added a blog entry in Know Hope's BlogQuick Update :)Still no breakouts!
Two weeks before my period is when my skin looks like shit - this time last month, I had two big pimples on my chin that erupted over night.
My skin looks amaaaazing! It feels amazing!
I'm due to get my period at the end of the month - if my skin stays looking this good, I will declare my hormonal acne defeated!
Now, I'm off to research paleo friendly recipes. Whee!
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Know Hope added a blog entry in Know Hope's BlogProgress!Finacea and cinnamon!
Finacea caused a bit of purging in the first week, but it was minor for the most part and now it's working great. My hyperpigmentation is improving and my skin isn't overly dry like when I use retin a. I'm using it at night with Dan's AHA. I'm using BP and moisturizer during the day - I have a huge bottle and I feel like I might as well use it, even though my skin is clear with no active pimples.
The biggest improvement is due to cinnamon capsules that I have taken for 1 week. I noticed I get oilier after I eat, and I remember reading a suggestion to take cinnamon, so I started taking 1 capsule before my meal and omg, it's working! I'm no longer oily! This cinnamon plus the saw palmetto/vitex tincture I'm on has made my skin so dry and matte looking. It's like I had a skin transplant.
So now it all makes sense! Insulin resistance basically floods your body with testosterone. Cinnamon is supposed to help with insulin resistance, which means there is less free testosterone in my body, less testosterone converting to DHT, less oil, and hopefully, less acne!
I have always intended to follow a low glycemic diet, but never fully committed to it. But now I'm convinced! I also think, in my case, a low glycemic diet alone is not enough to correct insulin resistance and that's where supplements like cinnamon and chromium help. I'm also super excited that I can still indulge once in awhile as long as I take my cinnamon supplement!
The real test is coming up! My period will soon be here...if I get through the next two weeks without a major flare up I will be AMAZED!
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Know Hope added a blog entry in Know Hope's BlogUpdateI get annoyed when people stop updating these things because I wonder if they're off living their acne free life or what.
I am still not acne free. But - my skin is looking pretty good too. I'm on the same supplements and 2 weeks out of the month my skin is basically clear until 2 weeks prior to my period when I have a flare up.
Improvements I've made:
I am not touching my skin as much. It's made such a huge difference!
I ditched retin a micro as my only topical. I realized I needed an antibacterial component to my regimen. I started just doing Dan's regimen but quickly noticed that I was getting congested skin, black heads. So I've reincorporated Paula's 2% BHA. Was using them both at the same time and that was waaaay too drying. So on most days I use the BHA and moisturizer during the day and the BP and AHA at night. This cleared up my skin pretty quickly but lots of hyperpigmentation remained, so when I feel like my skin can handle it, instead of BP I'll do retin a micro and obagi clear and AHA.
I used to hate that I have to use so many products, but that was just me wishing I could be one of those low maintenance girls. Next life, maybe? To be honest, I'm happy I have so many options open to me and I think the best thing I can do for my skin is to pick something and be consistent with it.
So, I went out of town with my boyfriend (and now fiance) and it was too hard to keep up with my topicals. Waiting for them to dry before I can put on my make up takes FOREVER. So I got lax. And it was also 2 weeks before my period when I always flare up and 2 big zits showed up on my chin. Why this happens is a mystery because my chin is normally pretty clear. Little to no clogged pores - not like my cheeks. When I do break out on my chin it is 90% related to my cycle.
So now I'm trying to figure out what is happening 2 weeks before my period.
I have theories. Here is my research:
This is when your progesterone levels start to go up, so estrogen has less of an effect on my skin. Supposedly, my androgen levels are higher than normal too (there is no consensus whether your body produces more or if there is more in relation to estrogen/progesterone).
So should I take more saw p the 2 weeks prior to my period? I know it increases my estrogen too so maybe? I'll try that this cycle and next cycle and see if there is a difference.
I also wonder if I'm just really sensitive to these hormonal fluctuations and that just the increase in progesterone is causing it. Because in the past, my breakouts were a little different. I'd break out on my chin like once every 2 or 3 months. Now I'm getting like 2-3 pimples on my chin every month. So I'm wondering if the vitex is keeping my progesterone levels up more than it used to be (which is preventing the estrogen dominance, but is now causing typical hormonal acne).
At any rate, I'm not willing to keep fiddling with my hormonal levels, except for trying more saw p during the 2 weeks leading up to my period.
Other things I need to research:
luteal defect - what is it? Do I have it? supposed to be related to pre-menstrual breakouts. B6, zinc and magnesium are supposed to be good for this
Topicals specifically for hormonal acne - the beauty mag articles recommend ant-androgen topicals (Finacea, B6 and zinc) and also mentioned something to boost my estrogen receptors. This interests me too.
Essential Fatty Acids - I think I need to increase this to see if this improves kerantisation of my sebum. Both topical and oral. I started taking fish oil and also slathering my skin with hemp oil, and a hard, tiny seed that has been on my right cheek just came out. It was like a tiny piece of rice. Saw P is keeping my oil down, but maybe my sebum is prone to kerantisation and that's why I keep breaking out? It doesn't hurt to try.
Spiro - this still remains an option, however I'm worried that my depression/anxiety will return. I'm 90% certain my tincture is helping with that.
Other things I thought would be helpful to add here for posterity, I guess:
sebaceous hyperplasia - I found out that basically this is an over active oil gland. I get them following a cyst. I see a lump of yellowish sebum under the surface but no opening for it to get out. Because I have a thin face they can be pretty prominent, and if I spot treat them the skin around gets really dry and wrinkly so it looks like I have a raisin under my skin. They look horrible and I've never seen anyone else with this, so I feel kind of freakish. Anyway, I am deathly afraid of cysts on my cheek because I've gotten sebaceous cysts that needed to be removed and I still have the scars. So I got another cyst/sebaceous hyperplasia 2 months ago and was soooo upset about it. But I wasn't messing with my skin like I normally do, so it didn't look too bad. So I just ignored it - didn't spot treat it and just used my normal regimen. It finally came to a head about 6 weeks later. So while I hope to never get them again, it's good to know that it will eventually work it's way out of my skin, unlike a true sebaceous cyst which usually needs to be excised. I was also reading that anti-androgen topicals are good for these too. I was using nizoral but couldn't keep up with it while I was out of town. Also have read that finacea should help.
That's it for now. This is just for my own record keeping purposes. Also, if I ever clear my skin I can point to my log so people can read about the process. If I clear up my skin, I swear, I will dedicate my life to telling people how I did it.
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