I wanted to sign up to share my experience and the treatment that's worked for me. I know how unpleasant and embarrassing acne is and swore to myself that if this treatment worked for me I would have to post it. This natural vitamin treatment was the last chance before going to Accutane, so I'd recommend trying this first. If you don't want to read all the boring crap just skip to the second-to-last paragraph.
As a teenager I never had particularly dreadful skin. It wasn't great - my skin was oily and I regularly got whiteheads and those lovely painful red ones under your skin that manifest themselves as gigantic red blotches - but it didn't bother me unduly as it wasn't that persistent. I went to University when I was 18, and for three years I didn't have many outbreaks. From second year onwards I had a patch localised to my right cheek, a rash which was kind of acne, kind of just a rash, that would flare up from time to time. This annoyed me though not to the extent that I looked into treating it. My housemate gave me a bottle of bio-oil which people use for stretch marks which made no difference, so I figured I would just sit it out.
I finished uni at the start of summer last year when I was 21. Other than that rash I didn't have a lot to worry about with my skin. I spent the summer looking for jobs and eventually found something at the start of September. Around this time I started getting acne vulgaris for the first time in about four years. First the rash on my right cheek flared up. Then that spread to the left side. Then I started getting whiteheads fairly regularly. I'm not going to delve in to whether this was down to starting a new job and the baggage that comes with it (I work long hours and found it quite difficult the first three months, but that's a different story). I'm a well adjusted person but like everyone I experience stress and depression so God knows the effect of these on my skin.
In November I went to see my doctor and was prescribed Doxycycline. I got about five days into this before the skin on my face and neck became red, itchy, flaky and eventually swelled up on my forehead as if I'd been stung. So I was allergic to that. And a death in the family meant I had a funeral to go to in that state. Fantastic.
My graduation ceremony was later that month (for some stupid reason they didn't have it in summer like every other university in England) and while my reaction had gone after a week off the Doxycycline I still had acne. My face was duly airbrushed in my graduation photo.
February this year I went back to my doctor and was started on a course of Erythromycin for six months. After a month or so I noticed the difference as I had less breakouts, though this being a gastrointestinal antibiotic leaves you with some unpleasant side effects. For the first three days or so I had stomach aches and some out-of-the-blue nausea. These went away after about a week though I still noticed it occasionally. Hangovers were also made hugely worse on Erythromycin, obviously the effect on your stomach. Having thrown up once in my life from drinking too much before Erythromycin I was sick twice and would've been several more times if I had risked taking the antibiotic the following morning.
I finished Erythromycin towards the end of June and about a week after my acne came back. And boy, did it come back. It did not just come back, it came back with a vengeance. Without a doubt the worst acne I've had in my life has been the last few months of this year. Whiteheads, red spots and sores, pus... Well, you all know what acne is. It appallingly bad and made worse by the fact that I'm a 22 year old man, work in an office, wear a suit, and have a job that involves meeting clients face-to-spotty face. I couldn't stand the sight of myself, hated looking in the mirror and didn't want to be a part of any photos (which is why I won't be posting any). I recall one from my brother's birthday over summer. Outside, night, flash photograph, giant, red, blotchy face - that's me. I couldn't stand going out or letting people see my face. The few occasions recently I've gone out with women nice enough to give me the time of day I've put off calling them back because I've been that self-conscious.
So I gave it a few weeks then went back to the doctor at the end of August. I showed her a supplement I had been taking, "Complete Man" (or something) from Boots that includes Vitamin A, Zinc, B-Vitamins and a few other bits. I mentioned I'd read good stuff about Vitamin A online and it's what Accutane comes from. She asked if I wanted another prescription for Erythromycin or if I wanted to speak to a dermatologist about going on Accutane which I declined as I wanted to try vitamins before going down that route. She suggested scrapping the Boots supplement and just taking straight Vitamin A and Zinc supplements. So I went to Holland and Barrett that day and bought bottles of 100x 25mg Zinc Gluconate tablets at 250% RDA each along with 100x 2,400micrograms Vitamin A tablets at 300% RDA, 8'000IU each. The doctor said not to exceed the stated dose of one a day, so naturally I started on three. Then after a few weeks I went up to four. And then to five. So 40,000IU of Vitamin A a day at 1200% of the RDA. Zinc has stayed always at the recommended dose of one.
After two months my skin is looking the best it has since I was 18. I lowered the Vitamin A dose a week or so back to four a day and my skin is still fine, so I'm going to gradually reduce intake over the coming months. Any rashes I had were gone, longstanding red marks from old outbreaks are healing nicely and the occasional whiteheads I have are negligible. All thanks to a handful of supplements each morning after breakfast. It took longer than I thought as I've read posts making this out to be a miracle cure that works in about three days, which is complete bollocks. After about 2-3 weeks I noticed less spots, then probably around 6 weeks for my skin to heal noticeably. It takes about 12 weeks for skin to completely regenerate so I was patient and carried on with it. Now about 10 weeks in and my skin's looking great. I did this without any huge dietary or lifestyle changes, so I attribute it pretty much entirely to the vitamins. There is a risk of Vitamin A toxicity, especially if you're exceeding the dose heavily like I am, so if you're going to try this ask your doctor first.