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Plan B Acne Plus Cleanup Story

plan b hormonal acne

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#1 RacingheartZ

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 12:15 PM

Hi Everyone!  Just wanted to share my story of how I brought back my acne with a vengeance by taking Plan B and changing my skin care routine and how I've been treating it and getting it to go back down.  

 

This was me in August 2013, before it all went downhill.  I have very little coverup on, eye makeup, and lipstick but you can see that there aren't any bumps or obvious scars under the makeup.  My skin had been relatively good since 2009 when I went gluten-free, dairy-free, and cut back on sugars, carbs, and caffeine.  For the most part, I eat a whole-foods, organic diet.  My skin care routine consisted of the Neutrogena Advanced Acne Solutions kit:  salicylic acid facial wash, BPO control cream, and oil-free moisturizer.  It kept me relatively clear and the only complaints I have are:  it can be drying, I feel like the BPO prematurely ages my skin and bleaches my eyebrows and eyelashes (and pillow cases and towels).  During the past years, I would have occasional breakouts (no cysts though just mild acne) due to stress or hormones and I would steam my face for 10 minutes a few times a week with water, sea salt, and Vitamin C crystals and that would help reduce the breakouts and minimize the scars.  

 

Before the Breakout in August 2013
 
In September 2013, I was so thrilled with the quality of my skin that I decided to stop treating it with harsh acne products and to use gentler natural products.  I started using a lotion from an herbalist that had jojoba oil, oregon grape root, witch hazel, coconut oil among other things.  I also switched to a non-soap organic cleanser.  At first, my skin looked amazing -- literally glowing.  It was more moisturized, younger looking, and best of all I felt like I was being kind to my skin after years of "battling."  I noticed my face was no longer greasy at the end of the day (because the Neutrogena kit is drying, my face tends to overcompensate by producing more oil).  However, I also noticed that I started to get some pimples around my mouth/chin area -- wasn't sure if this was the "purging" that can happen when you start a new product/change your routine.  At the end of September due to contraceptive failure, I chose to take Plan B.  As people have mentioned in other posts I've read, when it comes to choosing between pregnancy that you are not emotionally/financially prepared for and acne, the possibility of acne is nowhere near as permanent of a decision so I am by no means trying to bash Plan B.  It exists for a reason and everyone's body responds to it differently.  
 
I expected to get some acne as the last time I took Plan B my face erupted in an "acne beard" ... a cute little beard-like pattern of pimples around my mouth and chin (hormonal acne spot).  Last time it only lasted about 10 days and then went away and there weren't any big cyst-like pimples just smaller ones.  Well...this time my entire face exploded but mostly my chin and there were plenty of painful/hot cysts!
The beginning of the breakout:
The Beginning of the Breakout
Getting worse:
At its worst
Notice my forehead started breaking out too:
Profile Left

 

It started getting REALLY bad in November (this happened last time I took plan B ... for some reason the acne came 2 months later) and it got extra bad during the luteal phase of my cycle.  This made sense to me since Plan B is a synthetic progesterone and during the luteal phase our bodies progesterone levels spike.  I know plan B isn't supposed to stay in your system that long, but it seemed like it triggered something in my body.  I think on top of completely changing my skin care regimen, my skin just didn't know how to deal with all of the internal and external changes.

 

At first, I was horrified ... I felt unattractive and I felt like a failure -- like all of my efforts to eat better and take care of myself had been undone.  Then I remembered that I made the initial decision to change my skin care routine and to take Plan B out of self love.  Literally every day, I had new pimples and I'm never sure how long these breakouts are going to last ... so I decided to try to find my attractiveness under the acne.  I learned that I really like my blue eyes in this process!!  Instead of staring at my new bumps day to day, I tried to look at my eyes in the mirror.  I also decided to have self-compassion since years of battling and hating my skin NEVER cleared up my acne before so why would it now?  When I see other people with acne, all I can feel is compassion so why not have it for myself?

 

I didn't want to go crawling back to BPO so at first I tried Acnutrol by Designs for Health -- it's an antimicrobial and scar healing formula.  Honestly, it worked really well but much slower than BPO.  I went back to the Neutrogena kit since I know that face wash and moisturizer do not break me out.  I tried to withhold from the BPO as long as a I could but eventually I went back to it for it's fast-acting effects.

 

Currently products I use on my face:

- Neutrogena Advanced Acne Solutions Therapy kit:  salicylic acid, BPO control lotion, and oil-free moisturizer 

- DermaE firming cream with ester-C and alpha lipoic acid (around my eyes since the BPO and Acnutrol tend to make the skin around my eyes look dry and wrinkly) 

- Rose water spray (a few times a day as a toner/moisturizer)

- Organic tumeric + organic honey + almond milk as a mask (a few times a week) 

 

Other lifestyle changes to clear my skin:

- Cleaning up my diet again to undo any bad habits that crept back in during the holidays

- Acupuncture 2x month to re-balance my hormones (they just gave me an herb called "Free and Easy Wanderer" so we'll see how that goes)

- Exercising and destressing as much as possible 

- Drinking plenty of water

- Taking:  B Complex, Inositol, B5 (2g), Fish oil, Magnesium 

 

KEEP A JOURNAL!  I've been adding things in slowly and keeping a journal to see how my face responds to each new product/lifestyle change.  In the past, I tend to add too many things in at once and then I don't know which product is helping or which one might be hurting.  

 

Once all of the pimples are cleared, I will start steaming my face and getting facials to help reduce the scarring.  Here's how my face looks now approximately 8 weeks after this all started:

Getting Better

 

It's definitely getting better!  I've read online that some women had acne for up to a year after taking plan B but I really feel that with time, compassion, patience, and a desire to balance my hormones that my skin should bounce back soon. 

 

Best of luck to all of you in your journey as well!! Remember to have compassion :-D 

 

 



#2 brandylad

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 03:46 PM

wow credit to you! your determination is inspiring! good luck



#3 RacingheartZ

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 09:58 PM

Thank you so much!



#4 dunedain

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 11:55 PM

First off, you do have amazing blue eyes - that was the first thing I noticed in your first picture. Even behind the glasses I could see them! And I noticed it before I even looked at your skin.

 

I have had sort of a similar situation as you. I've taken Plan B once a bit over a year ago and I started to break out a lot more frequently a few months after I had taken it. I've had moderate acne for years but it definitely felt like Plan B put it on the severe side.

 

My skin went all over the place after that. I tried the acne.org regimen which worked for a few months until my skin developed a weird allergy...then I started Alesse which broke out my skin again because I didn't realise it was highly androgenic...and then finally I switched to Diane 35 which has helped clear up my skin for the last half a year. 

 

Plan B is definitely important and I'm glad it exists......but I never EVER want to take it again. :/

 

Good luck with your journey. It makes me happy to see you facing this challenge head on with a smile on your face :) 


AMCetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser, Cetaphil Moisturising Lotion, Cetaphil DermaControl Oil-Absorbing Lotion (SPF30)
PMCetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser, Clindamycin Phosphate 1%, Dan's 10% AHA, Benzagel 5% Benzoyl Peroxide 
ExtrasDiane 35 (since July 2 2013), Borghese Fango Delicato Mud Mask (2x/week)
My personal log here: http://www.acne.org/...l-gel-log-pics/


#5 RacingheartZ

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 01:19 PM

Thanks for the compliment Tatii!  Gift received :-)  I'm so glad to hear Diane 35 is working for you.  I've read quite a few forums online where other women have stories about Plan B breaking them out.  I hope I never have to take it again either, but like you said I'm glad that it exists.  

 

I was on the NuvaRing for a year and a half and it tends to keep my skin really clear in combination with eating healthy but I don't like the other side effects that I get with birth control.

 

Cheers to clear skin and to finding our beauty beyond the acne!  



#6 RacingheartZ

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 10:32 AM

Following up with an update!  At the beginning of this month it seemed like my face was on the rebound and clearing up, until the luteal phase of my cycle when the acne picked up again.  

 

Acne 1.31.14
 
The left-hand image is during the follicular phase of my cycle where I see a lot of acne relief but as soon as I ovulate it's a steady rise in acne until my menstrual cycle and the process begins again.  This month the breakout is MUCH better than last month but still clearly a hormonal reaction.  Another interesting thing to note -- my PMS symptoms have been way more severe the past two cycles as well with pretty significant mood swings.  
 
I'm thinking of trying Vitex/Chaste Berry to balance my hormones and will keep everyone updated.
 
For now I'm continuing with the following:
 

Currently products I use on my face:

- Neutrogena Advanced Acne Solutions Therapy kit:  salicylic acid, BPO control lotion, and oil-free moisturizer 

- Acnutrol by Designs for Health (I use this during the day underneath the Neutrogena moisturizer) 

- DermaE Vitamin A and Vitamin E wrinkle serum (around my eyes @ night since the BPO and Acnutrol tend to make the skin around my eyes look dry and wrinkly) 

- Rose water spray (a few times a day as a toner/moisturizer)

- Organic tumeric + organic honey + almond milk as a mask (a few times a week) 

 

Other lifestyle changes to clear my skin:

- Cleaning up my diet again to undo any bad habits that crept back in during the holidays

- Acupuncture 2x month to re-balance my hormones 

- Exercising and destressing as much as possible --> trying to make a conscious effort to sweat more!

- Drinking plenty of water

- Taking:  B Complex, B5 (2g), Fish oil, liquid Zinc, Free and Easy Wanderer Chinese Herb --> I have lots of success with the liquid Zinc for my skin!

 

 



#7 RacingheartZ

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 04:43 PM

Another Update:  The Tale of Migrating Acne 

 

Well I'm a few days before my cycle and my chin has finally stopped breaking out -- YAY CHIN! See below, mostly scars now:

chin

 

Now my acne has migrated from my chin to the sides of my face.  I've read that others have experienced this migrating acne phenomenon.  I'm hoping it migrates its way off my face and out into space eventually LOL!  Interestingly, the right side of my face is almost clear (just scars) but the left side almost looks like a rash or allergic reaction -- never had this kind of acne before.  The good news is I'm getting fewer and fewer cysts ... still some on the forehead and jawline.  I'm doing an elimination diet over the next few weeks as I figured anything I can do to help my liver, will help my body get rid of excess toxins including hormones.  

 

Right cheek - almost clear!

March 2014
 
Forehead & right cheek - forehead still slightly breaking out:
March 2014
 
Left cheek -- looks almost like an allergic reaction:
March 2014
 
I realized that I don't think the BPO and Neutrogena kit were helping all that much... just making my skin dry and doing minimal control.  I'm back to using organic face wash and a moisturizing lotion blended by an herbalist.  It has oil in it ... but my skin wasn't getting much better so I figured I'd rather have moisturized acne skin than dry flaky damaged acne skin.  I'm still using BPO at night but I read an article that BPO can deplete vitamin E levels so I'm really glad I switched back to the herbal lotion with vitamin E in it.  
 
My self esteem has taken a huge hit from all of this -- but it has made me wonder why I tie so much of my self-esteem into the condition of my acne?  That is certainly giving my acne a lot of power over me.  In my relationship, I realized it was affecting me in a few ways:  not wanting SO to touch my face, feeling insecure in the morning unless I ran to the bathroom to put makeup on, and definitely not wanting to shower with SO.  It was sad ... we broke up for a number of reasons sorting of revolving around bad timing but I can't help but think that my acne was putting a little bit of a distance and a strain on us towards the end.  It would have been nice to have showered with him a few more times or let him put his hands on my face a few more times.  I realized I would never want anyone I loved to feel "ugly" because of their acne but yet I let myself feel ugly.  Thus I'm embarking on a continued journey towards self-love this time with greater fervor!  
 
There's so much we can do to work towards clearing up our skin ... we have an abundance of natural and medical choices in our hands.  There's also a lot of free things to try ... loving ourselves, meditating, visual imagery, etc.  I mean those things are totally 100% free!  It would be funny if after all of these years and all of this stressing about my skin and all of the health quests and beauty products, that really the secret was to just let go and truly love myself unconditionally.  Sometimes I wonder if it's really that easy and here I have myself on strict elimination diets and such.  
 
For now, I'll continue to eat healthy since that is a good way to love yourself anyway, but I'll also work on loving myself internally.  Lol maybe I should call up a friend and just let them touch my face ... get it over with, and see if they're still friends with me when all is said and done.  It's sad, I bet a lot of us hide our faces from human touch when really it just might be the part of us that needs it the most.  
 
Good luck everyone, I'll continue to update as my acne migrates around and (eventually off!) my face :-

 

 



#8 5beauty

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 12:49 PM

Sweetie, i dont know if you have directions of use for the plan b pill, but you definately have to STOP it. The hormone ratio is SO high, that not only bursts your face, but it also messes your cycle. I was on diane 35 for 3 and over years. It was great with nonside effects (and its a heavy pill). BUT one day i woke up with red bitten like eyes. I thought it was some kind of allergy, but it wouldnt cure even after 2 months of prescription from my opthalmologist. I was even told i had lupus, but it was the pill that was showing a sign to stop it. So, i thought i had to choose red eyes or acne? I have acne now, but i have it under control. I use the regimen, along with a bunch of other stuff on face, and a combo of vitex and saw palmetto. Do you have any pms? If yes, i totally suggest you the saw palmetto. I have been taking it for 4 months, and now seems to work both on face and on the cycle ( needs time!)

#9 RacingheartZ

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 09:44 PM

Thanks for the suggestion!  I've been thinking about adding Vitex to my regimen but I'm currently on a Chinese herb from my acupuncturist that contains Dong Quai and other hormone balancing herbs so I want to give that another month before adding something else in.  I'll keep the saw palmetto in mind as well.  I know that both vitex and saw palmetto are anti-androgens so they seem promising.  



PS.  Plan B is an emergency contraceptive pill that you take in emergency situations, so I haven't taken it since that experience in September but the effects have been quite long lasting.  I think it triggered some kind of hormonal imbalance - maybe oversensitized my androgen receptors -  and I'm working with an acupuncturist, diet, and supplements to restore the balance. 



#10 5beauty

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 08:57 AM

Misunderstood. Thought you were constantly on the pill. How is the chinese herb working, i am interested. Have faith...!

#11 RacingheartZ

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 10:25 PM

It's hard to say.  The Chinese herb has definitely improved my mood and lowered my anxiety levels... but Chinese herbs tend to make my face break out more at first followed by a significant clearing.  My chin is no longer breaking out but now the sides of my cheeks are breaking out.  Last time I was on Chinese herbs I had a similar reaction where the sides of my cheeks broke out bad and then a few months later everything cleared up nicely.  I've definitely got faith that I'm on the right track!!  Thanks for the support!

 

Even though I'm pretty convinced this was all triggered by plan B I'm still going on Monday to get some bloodwork to make sure I don't have PCOS.  I was tested before a few years ago and received an ultrasound of my ovaries and everything looked good, but it's good to follow up in the case of persistent adult acne.  

 

My acupuncturist suggested staying on the herbs for 3-4 months.  Once those are done, if my acne has not improved, I plan on going the vitex/saw palmetto route so I'm glad you've had success with it!



#12 WishClean

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 08:03 PM

You definitely scared me off from taking plan B. 

I have some advice for you based on my own experiences. Too many herbs = not good! They can cause unwanted detox reactions, or worse, just reactions that are not even detox-related. Based on your photos, you are having a reaction...it's not detoxing, I used to get those type of reactions too from various things usually having to do with liver toning.  Try one at a time and see what works. Avoid milk thistle and liver cleansing herbs for now, especially after taking such a concentrated dose of hormones through the plan B pill.

Ask your acupuncturist about DIM and inositol, although they might not know because these are not Chinese herbs. Myomin is a Chinese herb that balances estrogen levels in a way that is similar to DIM, but I definitely recommend trying DIM and inositol first. Every time I took a blend of Chinese herbs it didn't help me at all, so now I am hesitant. However, acupuncture is very useful by itself, so you may want to cut down on the herbs and increase your acupuncture sessions.


Edited by WishClean, 02 April 2014 - 08:05 PM.

Supplements: inositol, DIM, digestive enzymes [don't need them every day anymore, only on cheat days], herpanacine & vitamin C with rose hips [not every day], regular sun exposure for vitamin D3.

Lifestyle & Skin Care: Low histamine diet, avoiding unnecessary stress, balancing skin's PH (using Image Ormedics), using distilled/ filtered water to wash face, occasional high frequency facials... (although I have been slacking lately)

** Find the cause, find the cure **

 


#13 RacingheartZ

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 01:35 PM

Thanks for the suggestion!  I can try cutting out the Chinese herbal blend for now and seeing if the acne on the sides of my cheeks goes away.  Although the Chinese blend has Dong Quai and Licorice Root which are similar anti-androgenic compounds like DIM.  Still you're right there might be something in the blend that my body doesn't agree with. Unfortunately I can't separate the herbs out because they are all formulated together in a pill called "Free and Easy Wanderer."  They've helped immensely with my mood and demeanor so it would be unfortunate if they are causing a skin reaction.  I'll take them for a few more weeks and see if there's any worsening or improvement and if not, I'll definitely remove them as you suggested and see what happens!     

 

Hey if people have to take plan B, I think it exists for very valid reasons.  I just put this out there in case anyone else has a similar reaction so that they know they are not alone and if I find something to clean it up faster I'd be happy to share.  From what I've read, the plan B induced acne seems to go away for people in a few months to about a year.  It has already been 6 months for me so now it will be hard to tell whether my efforts are working or whether time is just working its magic!



#14 WishClean

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 09:55 PM

Thanks for the suggestion!  I can try cutting out the Chinese herbal blend for now and seeing if the acne on the sides of my cheeks goes away.  Although the Chinese blend has Dong Quai and Licorice Root which are similar anti-androgenic compounds like DIM.  Still you're right there might be something in the blend that my body doesn't agree with. Unfortunately I can't separate the herbs out because they are all formulated together in a pill called "Free and Easy Wanderer."  They've helped immensely with my mood and demeanor so it would be unfortunate if they are causing a skin reaction.  I'll take them for a few more weeks and see if there's any worsening or improvement and if not, I'll definitely remove them as you suggested and see what happens!     

 

Hey if people have to take plan B, I think it exists for very valid reasons.  I just put this out there in case anyone else has a similar reaction so that they know they are not alone and if I find something to clean it up faster I'd be happy to share.  From what I've read, the plan B induced acne seems to go away for people in a few months to about a year.  It has already been 6 months for me so now it will be hard to tell whether my efforts are working or whether time is just working its magic!

I really admire your patience and positive attitude. Your skin is looking better and better!

Well, for me, herbal blends are risky. I don't particularly like licorice root, I think my body just doesn't like it because I had some breakouts when I used to drink a lot of licorice tea. If the herbs are helping you in other aspects, then I guess it's up to you to weigh the pros and cons. I was suggested an herbal herb/blend called myomin by my doctor for estrogen dominance, but I went with the "Western" version, DIM, and I am very happy I made that decision. Any time I got herbs from an acupucturist, they didn't help me, so I gave up and now I just get acupuncture treatments. 

And as you say, sometimes hormones manage to balance themselves out, it just takes time...it seems as though you are doing all that you can right now. It will pay off in the end...it's a very long process but you will make it. 

I see that you are taking inositol as well. It has helped me tremendously, how is it working for you?


Edited by WishClean, 03 April 2014 - 09:57 PM.

Supplements: inositol, DIM, digestive enzymes [don't need them every day anymore, only on cheat days], herpanacine & vitamin C with rose hips [not every day], regular sun exposure for vitamin D3.

Lifestyle & Skin Care: Low histamine diet, avoiding unnecessary stress, balancing skin's PH (using Image Ormedics), using distilled/ filtered water to wash face, occasional high frequency facials... (although I have been slacking lately)

** Find the cause, find the cure **

 


#15 Krissy990

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 10:36 AM

Wow its unfortunate that these hormone based contraceptive methods can do this to someone. But like others have said your skin looks alot less inflamed and looks like its healing. I really admire your positive attitude, its so easy to let acne rule our lives. I must admit in the past few months I've let it interfere with mine feeling so self conscious and what not. But keep that attitude and your skin/body will catch up with you soon and be on the right path. You seriously are inspiring me to give myself more self love. And your eyes are beautiful wish I had blue eyes! Best of luck to you :)



#16 RacingheartZ

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Posted 05 April 2014 - 10:12 AM

Thank you to both of you!  Wishing you luck as well.

 

I actually have an update:

Recent blood tests have shown that my DHEA levels are super high (it is a mild androgen that gets converted to testosterone).  My testosterone levels are normal but inching towards the high side.  I've been tested for PCOS in the past and do not have it but this is something that needs to be looked into and further evaluated.  I'm wondering if the women who have bad reactions to plan B already have a hormonal imbalance that is exacerbated by the plan B.  Maybe this is why some women can take it without issue, and others have bad reactions.  

 

So essentially, my skin is doing exactly what it should do!  It's alerting me to a more severe underlying hormonal imbalance.  Taking plan B just added fuel to a fire.  The doctor that I work for suggested taking milk thistle to help my liver process all of these excess hormones.  She also suggested Saw Palmetto to block the androgens (like you suggested WishClean!).  From here, I am going to have further tests done to figure out why my hormone levels are so out of balance.

 

I've been eating really clean for the past 3 weeks (did an elimination diet) and have just started to add foods back in.  My skin responds nice to a diet of mostly veggies, fruits, and lean meats (no grains).  I'm wondering if it has to do with the fact that this diet is very low glycemic ... less insulin spikes = less androgen activity.  I just wrote a pretty cool paper on acne for class and was thinking of posting it as a blog on here! 

 

I hope all of the ladies and men with acne can just love themselves as much as possible through it.  If anyone has had success clearing up their acne by hating their skin and waging war on it, I'd be curious to hear the story but I think we'll get a lot further loving ourselves, reading the signs of our body and working in tandem with it to figure out what the acne is trying to say.  Clearly mine has been trying to say "Hellooooo major hormonal imbalance happening in here!"  It has also helped guide me in choosing foods that work with my body and digestion.

 

Hey, if we can love ourselves, bumps and all, think of how awesome we will love ourselves when the acne subsides?!!??!?!?!  



#17 WishClean

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Posted 05 April 2014 - 11:10 AM

Thank you to both of you!  Wishing you luck as well.

 

I actually have an update:

Recent blood tests have shown that my DHEA levels are super high (it is a mild androgen that gets converted to testosterone).  My testosterone levels are normal but inching towards the high side.  I've been tested for PCOS in the past and do not have it but this is something that needs to be looked into and further evaluated.  I'm wondering if the women who have bad reactions to plan B already have a hormonal imbalance that is exacerbated by the plan B.  Maybe this is why some women can take it without issue, and others have bad reactions.  

 

So essentially, my skin is doing exactly what it should do!  It's alerting me to a more severe underlying hormonal imbalance.  Taking plan B just added fuel to a fire.  The doctor that I work for suggested taking milk thistle to help my liver process all of these excess hormones.  She also suggested Saw Palmetto to block the androgens (like you suggested WishClean!).  From here, I am going to have further tests done to figure out why my hormone levels are so out of balance.

 

I've been eating really clean for the past 3 weeks (did an elimination diet) and have just started to add foods back in.  My skin responds nice to a diet of mostly veggies, fruits, and lean meats (no grains).  I'm wondering if it has to do with the fact that this diet is very low glycemic ... less insulin spikes = less androgen activity.  I just wrote a pretty cool paper on acne for class and was thinking of posting it as a blog on here! 

 

I hope all of the ladies and men with acne can just love themselves as much as possible through it.  If anyone has had success clearing up their acne by hating their skin and waging war on it, I'd be curious to hear the story but I think we'll get a lot further loving ourselves, reading the signs of our body and working in tandem with it to figure out what the acne is trying to say.  Clearly mine has been trying to say "Hellooooo major hormonal imbalance happening in here!"  It has also helped guide me in choosing foods that work with my body and digestion.

 

Hey, if we can love ourselves, bumps and all, think of how awesome we will love ourselves when the acne subsides?!!??!?!?!  

 

You are right, acne is our body's way of warning us that something is wrong. Stick to a simple clean diet without too many carbs or processed sugars to help the situation. I wasn't the one who suggested saw palmetto. I tried it and honestly I think it exacerbated my estrogen dominance symptoms. Now I am very happy taking DIM (plain DIM, not the blend one to see if DIM alone works). Please ask your doctor about DIM instead of saw palmetto. Or at least inositol. I don't think saw palmetto is the best. Actually, based on my research and personal experience with DIM (also the user hearts' helpful input), it is the most potent anti-androgen you can take that is herbal, even wikipedia cites it as that. 

As for milk thistle, if you choose to take it, take a LOW dosage...I had a nasty "detox" reaction to it (along with fever and dizziness) and I only took the recommended dose but it did not work for me. DIM helps flush out excess hormones as well. If for some reason you get more breakouts with DIM, then it's time to add liver support like Liv-tox or milk thistle. But for me, DIM was enough on its own, along with what I was taking at the time. 

Good luck! Positive attitude is everything smile.png


Edited by WishClean, 05 April 2014 - 11:11 AM.

Supplements: inositol, DIM, digestive enzymes [don't need them every day anymore, only on cheat days], herpanacine & vitamin C with rose hips [not every day], regular sun exposure for vitamin D3.

Lifestyle & Skin Care: Low histamine diet, avoiding unnecessary stress, balancing skin's PH (using Image Ormedics), using distilled/ filtered water to wash face, occasional high frequency facials... (although I have been slacking lately)

** Find the cause, find the cure **

 


#18 RacingheartZ

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Posted 05 April 2014 - 01:40 PM

Oh yes, you mentioned the DIM!  I will ask the doctor about DIM versus saw palmetto.  I just noticed that someone earlier mentioned the saw palmetto and then you mentioned your success with DIM.  I  tried inositol but how much were you taking?  I was taking about 3g a day for a little over a month before stopping.  I get tired of taking so many pills but I know you can buy the powdered form of inositol.  It's tough because my skin really isn't bad during my follicular phase of my cycle but once ovulation strikes it's like all hell breaks loose until my period.  I always used to breakout before my period but nothing like this since taking plan B.  

 

It will be helpful to know what the underlying imbalance is... if it's coming from my ovaries and is some form of PCOS (even though I was checked) different herbs would be helpful as opposed to if it's coming from my adrenal glands.  For now, eating healthy has been my savior as well as just being kinder to myself and my skin.  Soon enough I'll have some answers and will keep this thread updated!  We might all have acne for different reasons but our experiences can at least help shed some light.  



Here's my acne paper in case anyone is interested!~

 

Beyond providing a semipermeable barrier between humans and the environment, the skin serves as a mirror reflecting the internal balance of many biological processes, especially hormonal regulation.  Many disruptions to physiology can present as diseases of the pilosebaceous unit of the skin, such as acne vulgaris.  Pilosebaceous units are found throughout the skin except in the palms and soles of the feet and they consist of a hair follicle, sebaceous gland, and an arrector pili muscle.  The sebaceous glands allow the skin to function as an endocrine organ by synthesizing local hormones with systemic effects, expressing diverse hormone receptors, and serving as a hormone target for other endocrine organs (Chen & Zouboulis, 2009).  The sebaceous glands produce sebum, which is a complex mixture of triglycerides and fatty acid degradation byproducts, wax esters, squalene, cholesterol esters and cholesterol that lubricate the skin and protects against friction and moisture (Makrantonaki, Ganceviciene, & Zouboulis, 2011).  The sebaceous glands also transport antioxidants in and on the skin, exhibit a natural light protectant, possess antimicrobial activity, and pro- and anti-inflammatory functions (Makrantonaki et al, 2011).   Physiological events that disrupt hormones and/or regulation of the pilosebaceous unit can result in acne vulgaris and other skin disorders.

 

Acne vulgaris, the most common form of acne affecting upwards of 85% of adolescents in Western countries (Melnik, 2012), has four fundamental physiological components:  1.) hyperproliferation of keratinocytes obstructing the hair follicle canal, 2.) sebaceous hyperproduction leading to excess sebum production, 3.) proliferation and colonization of Propionibacterium acnes contributing to pore blockage and provoking an immune inflammatory response, and 4.) significant dermal inflammation and oxidative stress due to follicular wall rupture and the presence of macrophage- and neutrophil-secreted cytokines and mediators to clear out infection (Costa, Lage, & Moisés, 2010).  Anything that contributes to further clogging of the pores, exacerbates inflammation, and promotes infection will complicate acne. 

 

The four fundamental physiological components of acne manifest from a complex interaction between hormones, diet, nutrient deficiencies, gut microbiome balance, stress, genetics and inflammation.  There are a number of hypotheses aimed at identifying the proverbial match that ignites the acne cascade at the cellular level.  Most recently, Melnik and Zouboulis (2013) suggest that increased plasma glucose levels from the standard Western diet perpetuate a low-grade hyperinsulinemia that persuades the transcription factor FoxO1 to leave the cell nucleus thus exposing androgen receptors to circulating androgens from endogenous and exogenous sources.  Milk consumption pushes insulin levels higher and contains insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which triggers elevation of the body’s internal IGF-1 further exposing the androgen receptors to hormonal sources from ovaries, tests, adrenals, progestins from contraceptives, and diet.  This hormone cocktail acts through the master growth regulator, the mTORC1 signaling pathway, which provokes hyperproliferation of keratinocytes and increases sebum production (Danby, 2013).  Like dairy, high glycemic load diets also have implications in acne etiology because of their insulinogenic properties that subsequently increase androgen production and decrease a binding protein to IGF-1 facilitating its hyperproliferative effects (Smith, Mann, Braue, & Varigos, 2007).  Several other hormones besides androgens and insulin have been linked to acne and may regulate sebaceous secretion including: estrogens, growth hormone, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRF), adrenocorticotopicc hormone (ACTH), melanocortins, and glucocorticoids (Lolis, Bowe, & Shalita, 2009).

 

Other hypotheses focus less on androgens and IGF-1 as the central players and more on the connection between the brain and skin and the brain-skin-gut-axis.  Bowe & Logan (2010) found subclinical inflammatory events, such as increased IL-1 around the pilosebaceous unit, occurring in acne-prone skin even prior to the hyperproliferation of keratinocytes (Bowe & Logan, 2010).  Due to this cutaneous and systemic oxidative stress, there are noted changes in mitochondrial function, membrane fluidity, enzymes, and ion channel functioning in the nervous system priming acne-prone individuals to an increased susceptibility to anxiety and depression via the brain-skin axis (Bowe & Logan, 2010).  Anxiety and depression lead to increased CRH, cortisol, and oxidative stress perpetuating the acne cycle.  The increased levels of oxidative stress simultaneously increase insulin levels, which reflect back to the aforementioned mTORC1 signaling hypothesis.  The gut-brain-skin axis takes the brain-skin connection a step further by bringing GI dysfunction into the acne equation.  Approximately 40% of people with acne have hypochlorhydria leading to small intestine bacterial overgrowth and an alteration in normal intestinal microflora (Bowe & Logan, 2011).  Bowe and Logan (2011) believe the imbalanced gut microbiome leads to intestinal permeability causing systemic and localized cutaneous inflammation as evidenced by a high reactivity to lipopolysaccharide endotoxins in the blood of those with acne. 

            Other researchers have found vitamin and mineral deficiencies and differences in sebum lipid composition in acne-prone individuals.  Vitamins A and D act as skin hormones and have receptor sites all throughout the skin (Pappas, 2009).  Vitamin A and its metabolites have been used in the treatment of acne and Vitamin D has been shown to regulate growth and differentiation of keratinocytes.  Lower levels of essential fatty acids, such as linoleic and α-linoleic acid were found in the wax esters of individuals with acne (Makrantonaki et al, 2011).  The presence of lipoperoxides in the sebum of acne-prone skin indicates the peroxidation of squalene and a decrease in the levels of vitamin E, the major sebum antioxidant, both of which contribute to keratinocyte proliferation and pro-inflammatory cytokines.  Zinc, copper, and iron also influence pro- and anti-inflammatory enzymes and pathways thus playing a role in the regulation of acne.  Finally, a properly balanced omega-6 to omega-3 ratio has been shown to reduce inflammation and help acne heal as evidenced by the absence of acne in primitive diets, which tend to have a low glycemic load and more omega-3 fatty acids (Pappas, 2009). 

            Due to the relationship between acne and hormones, a number of other endocrine disorders share similar pathophysiologies or have acne as a major presenting symptom.  Approximately 23 – 35% of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have acne and the majority of women with severe acne have PCOS (83.33%) likely related to the elevated androgen and insulin levels associated with the syndrome (Lolis et al, 2009).  Cushing syndrome may cause acne due to disruptions to CRH, ACTH, and cortisol whereas androgen-secreting tumors cause acne due to the direct elevation of androgen levels.  Acne, breast cancer, and prostate cancer have all been linked epidemiologically to dairy intake (Danby, 2009).  The link involves IGF-1 as a stimulating factor that is synergized in conjunction with the steroid hormones present in milk sensitizes certain cells to estrogens and other hormones.  Acne shares an over-activation of the mTORC1 signaling pathway along with other diseases of modern civilization like obesity, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease (Melnik, 2012).  The nutrient-mediated over-activation of this pathway leads to cellular growth, cell proliferation, tumorigenic stimulation, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and disruptions to cell protein homeostasis.

            Current medical treatments address acne by interfering with one or several of the following:  colonization by P. acnes, FoxO1 nuclear translocation and mTORC1 signaling, hyperproliferation of keratinocytes, androgen receptors and production, and inflammation.  Benzoyl peroxide, a common topical treatment for acne, mainly works as a bactericidal in the extinction of P. acnes; however, it may also stimulate FoxO1 nuclear transcription factor which attenuates mTORC1 signaling causing antiproliferative effects in keratinocytes (Melnik & Schmitz, 2013).  Tetracyclines and other systemic antiobiotics mainly suppress the growth of P. acnes and help to reduce inflammation (Lolis et al, 2009).  Isotretinoin (Accutane) and all-trans retinoic acid increase nuclear FoxO1 levels (Melnik & Schmitz, 2013), which block the previously exposed androgen receptor.  Hormonal agents such as some oral contraceptives and Spironolactone serve as anti-androgens.  Physical treatments like intralesional steroids, acne surgery, laser and light source treatments, and photodynamic therapy mainly work by reducing inflammation and hyperpigmentation associated with acne (Lolis et al, 2009).  These medical treatments for acne are not without their negative side effects: benzoyl peroxide can lower vitamin E levels in the already vitamin E deficient acne-prone skin, systemic antibiotics interfere with the gut microbiome which may already be compromised in individuals with acne, and isotretinoin (Accutane) may cause mood disorders, hepatotoxicity, and elevated triglycerides among other serious health consequences (Lolis et al, 2009). 

            Especially with the discovery of the relationship between the Western diet and the mTORC1 pathway, dietary treatments for acne have garnered more support in recent years from the scientific and dermatological communities.  Mounting evidence suggests that a low glycemic load dairy-free diet – similar to a Paleolithic diet – with ample fruits, vegetables, and fish for a balanced omega-6:omega-3 ratio would reduce acne.  Higher consumptions of vegetables, fruits and green teas increase plant-derived mTORC1 inhibitors that reduce the hyperproliferation of keratinocytes (Melnik & Zouboulis, 2013).  Consuming additional plant-derived m-TORC1 inhibitors like resveratrol, EGCG, curcumin, genestein, and indole-3-carbonil monomers (precursors to DIM, a natural anti-androgen) will further mitigate the androgenic response (Melnik, 2012).  By reducing both dairy and excessive meat consumption, those with acne can help diminish the insulin/IGF-1 response that excessively stimulates androgen receptors (Melnik, 2012).

            While dairy induces acne, research has shown that fermented dairy products containing Lactobacilli may actually improve acne.  In the fermenting process, Lactobacilli utilize IGF-1 and lower the levels in diary by fourfold (Ismail, Manaf, & Azizan, 2012).  In a 12-week trial, Lactobacillus fermented dairy beverages improved clinical aspects of acne (Bowe & Logan, 2011).  In lieu of fermented dairy products, a probiotic with Lactobacilli strains could be included in the regimen, especially if systemic antibiotics are being used as part of the treatment plan.  Contrary to popular belief, no significant relationship was found between chocolate and nuts (Ismail et al, 2012); although, high glycemic milk chocolate should be avoided as part of the low glycemic load and dairy-free diet. 

            In terms of supplements, adequate levels of vitamins A, D, E and zinc should be considered as well as an omega-3 supplement if adequate intake cannot be met through diet.  Designs for Health sells a formula called AcnutrolTM that contains all of the above plus more in an effort to help reduce oxidative stress, prevent or balance insulin resistance, and to help balance hormones (“Acnutrol long-term support for acne control”, n.d.).  It contains pantothenic acid and carnitine for healthy lipid metabolism to reduce inflammation and prevent lipid peroxidation.  Zinc helps with wound healing, immune system response, and reducing inflammation.  Chromium helps prevent the insulin resistance that is associated with acne.  In addition to AcnutrolTM, there are several natural anti-androgenic herbs that provide an androgen-blocking alternative to hormonal therapies.  Red reishi, licorice, white peony, green tea, spearmint, black cohosh, chaste tree, and saw palmetto can assist the acne client in reducing the stimulation of androgen receptors (Grant & Ramasamy, 2012). 

           

 References:

“Acnutrol long-term support for acne.” (n.d.).  Retrieved March 22, 2014 from

http://mkt.s.designs..._PDF/ACN180.pdf

Bowe, W. P., & Logan, A. C. (2010). Clinical implications of lipid peroxidation in acne vulgaris:

old wine in new bottles. Lipids in Health and Disease, 9, 141. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-9-

141

Bowe, W. P., & Logan, A. C. (2011). Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis - back

to the future? Gut Pathogens, 3, 1. doi:10.1186/1757-4749-3-1

Costa, A., Lage, D., & Moisés, T. A. (2010). Acne and diet: truth or myth? Anais Brasileiros de

Dermatologia, 85(3), 346–353.

Danby, F. W. (2013). Turning acne on/off via mTORC1. Experimental Dermatology, 22(7),

505–506. doi:10.1111/exd.12180

Danby, F. W. (Bill). (2009). Acne, dairy and cancer. Dermato-Endocrinology, 1(1), 12–16.

Davidovici, B. B., & Wolf, R. (2010). The role of diet in acne: facts and controversies. Clinics in

Dermatology, 28(1), 12–16. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2009.03.010

Grant, P., & Ramasamy, S. (2012). An Update on Plant Derived Anti-Androgens. International

Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 10(2), 497–502. doi:10.5812/ijem.3644

Ismail, N. H., Manaf, Z. A., & Azizan, N. Z. (2012). High glycemic load diet, milk and ice

cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: a case control

study. BMC Dermatology, 12(1), 13. doi:10.1186/1471-5945-12-13

Lai, J.-J., Chang, P., Lai, K.-P., Chen, L., & Chang, C. (2012). The role of androgen and

androgen receptor in skin-related disorders. Archives of Dermatological Research,

304(7), 499–510. doi:10.1007/s00403-012-1265-x

Lolis, M. S., Bowe, W. P., & Shalita, A. R. (2009). Acne and systemic disease. The Medical

Clinics of North America, 93(6), 1161–1181. doi:10.1016/j.mcna.2009.08.008

Makrantonaki, E., Ganceviciene, R., & Zouboulis, C. (2011). An update on the role of the

sebaceous gland in the pathogenesis of acne. Dermato-Endocrinology, 3(1), 41–49.

doi:10.4161/derm.3.1.13900

Melnik, B. (2012). Dietary intervention in acne. Dermato-Endocrinology, 4(1), 20–32.

doi:10.4161/derm.19828

Melnik, B. C., & Schmitz, G. (2013). Are therapeutic effects of antiacne agents mediated by

activation of FoxO1 and inhibition of mTORC1? Experimental Dermatology, 22(7), 502–

504. doi:10.1111/exd.12172

Melnik, B. C., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2013). Potential role of FoxO1 and mTORC1 in the

pathogenesis of Western diet-induced acne. Experimental Dermatology, 22(5), 311–315.

doi:10.1111/exd.12142

Pappas, A. (2009). The relationship of diet and acne. Dermato-Endocrinology, 1(5), 262–267.

Smith, R. N., Mann, N. J., Braue, A., Mäkeläinen, H., & Varigos, G. A. (2007). A low-glycemic-

load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. The

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(1), 107–115.


Edited by RacingheartZ, 05 April 2014 - 01:41 PM.


#19 WishClean

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Posted 05 April 2014 - 08:21 PM

That's an interesting paper, I'm glad you posted it. 

I am taking only 1/8 spoon inositol these days because I don't need more. Before I was taking up to a total of 1/2 a tablespoon per day to get my ovulation breakouts under control. For me, it worked within the first month and even when I was taking a much lower dose, but for others it can take up to 3 months. I was a bit hesitant about DIM, so before DIM I went back to vitex but unfortunately this time I didn't have the success I had with it other times so I switched to DIM. I wish there was more research on DIM and inositol, they can really help with hormonal acne.


Supplements: inositol, DIM, digestive enzymes [don't need them every day anymore, only on cheat days], herpanacine & vitamin C with rose hips [not every day], regular sun exposure for vitamin D3.

Lifestyle & Skin Care: Low histamine diet, avoiding unnecessary stress, balancing skin's PH (using Image Ormedics), using distilled/ filtered water to wash face, occasional high frequency facials... (although I have been slacking lately)

** Find the cause, find the cure **

 


#20 RacingheartZ

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 09:11 AM

Yea!  I remember reading a lot about inositol and at some point in my life I was taking DIM for a few months I think because I suspected estrogen dominance.  I don't think I had acne at that time though and I didn't noticed any effects from the DIM so I stopped taking it.  Of course, this time around it could be really helpful!  Inositol is great for anxiety/OCD too (esp in high doses like upwards of 17/18g per day) and I've read about it being successful for PCOS.  I guess it depends on why someone has acne to begin with.  

 

My mom ended up buying saw palmetto yesterday before I could get a hold of her and ask her to hold off.  So I might just try it while I have it and note my symptoms or improvements.  I'm stopping the Chinese herb for now ... it get's confusing when there's too many supplements at once.  It really feels like a big experiment! 

 

THe one article I used for my paper focused  a lot on the different herbal remedies for blocking androgens ... DIM may have actually been on the list.  There's also a lot of indole-3-carbonil in cruciferous vegetables which is a precursor to DIM!   






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