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Member Since 15 May 2007
Offline Last Active Jul 25 2015 11:26 AM

#3469017 Experiment: Whole Food, Organic, Vegan, High Carbohydrate, Low Fat Diet.

Posted by cvd on 22 January 2015 - 10:46 AM

Hi Emmie

I too suffered from cystic acne but for decades.  I'll share my thoughts and experience on both meds and diet.  FYI --- I am now clear.

MEDS --- like you I was prescribed many acne meds but this went on for decades.  However it was always one or at most two at a time (i.e. an antibiotic or a topical or birth control, etc.)  My current derm of 5 years who is an expert in adult cystic acne says that only a multi-prong approach will clear up resistant adult cystic acne.  This means that being prescribed only one or two things at a time will not work and unfortunately this is what is usually done.  To get clear you must do a multi-prong approach.  You must use simultaneously something that opens pores + something that kills acne bacteria + something that removes dead skin + something that lowers androgen levels.  For most adult sufferers it is a regime you must do forever if you want to be clear.  Why?  Some people genetically have pores that don't shed properly, in addition to being very sensitive to androgens, etc which makes the perfect environment for ongoing cystic acne.  If you message me I can explain more.  So the solution is to do things that help the skin behave in a more healthy way...without doing more harm (i.e. oral antibiotics).  My regime is listed below in my signature but in summary it is using a BP cleanser, followed by a topical antibiotic.  This combo is well researched and documented as being effective.  I also take 50mg of Spironolactone which is an anti-androgen but is not a hormone itself.  It just blocks androgens.  I am actually weaning off of it as the other parts of the regime should keep my cystic acne under control.  My derm has me doing once a month microdermabrasions (diamond tip...not the crystals) and this is to open pores and remove dead skin.  It is amazing.  All scars are gone and my pores are totally clear.  This is essential to allow the BP and topical antibiotic to work well.  The pores of people with cystic acne are usually so plugged up that meds don't get in well eneough to kill the acne bacteria.  Please read the rest of my regime below in the signature area.

DIET - I have studied and tried many many anti-acne diets and have finally found one that really works.  You are definitely on the right track.  Please check out Dr McDougall's web articles on acne and diet.  He advocates avoiding all fats, especially all processed fats.  And avoiding dairy and flesh foods.  He recommends eating whole natural foods such as whole grains, tubers, vegetables, and fruits.  This is the diet of cultures that don't get acne.  It is a sustainable diet and very filling.  I love it.  I admit that I personally still eat eggs and occasionally some wild fish.  But my skin remains clear.  For me what really got me clear diet-wise was avoiding all dairy, all fats (oils, margarine, etc.), fermented foods such yogurt, alcoholic beverages (I may have a bit of rosacea which is reactive to fermented foods), yeasted foods such as bread, vinegar (may be the rosacea issue) nuts and all sugary foods.  My skin, digestion and energy levels are all much better...I feel great.  I am 5'5" and weigh 120.  I do marathons and hike all the time.  Here is what I eat typically:

Breakfast --- huge bowl of oatmeal cooked with raisons, chia seeds and topped with fresh berries, banana and soy milk. 

Lunch --- huge salad with fresh vegetables, potato or yam or leftover rice, any leftovers from dinner, etc.  Or I make a vegie burrito with avocado and beans.

Dinner --- huge salad, lots of steamed vegies, rice or potato or yam

Treats --- my special homemade non-fat, non-sweetened banana apple bread

Condiments --- I like brewers yeast (it's not really a yeast but actually is a dried mushroom), garlic, cumin, lots of herbs, and herbed salt.

I am never hungry, eat tons of food and maintain a good weight.  Love this diet.  After about a month on this diet my usually oily skin was normal and my skin looked glowing.

I hope this helps you.  I will follow your thread to see how you're doing.  FYI -- diet alone may not get rid of really bad cystic acne.  You may need to do a regime like I'm doing along with diet.  And then after getting clear for a couple of years wean off any oral meds.  With really resistant cystic acne you may have to continue with topical meds to stay clear.

#3464276 Huge Breakout. Please Help

Posted by cvd on 17 December 2014 - 11:07 AM

I agree mostly with above.  You need something that GENTLY cleanses your face morning and night.  You need something that kills the acne bacteria effectively and you need something to soothe the skin.  It is this combo that clears up skin...that and in addition avoiding dairy because it has hormones that aggravate cystic acne (which is what you have). For a cleanser I agree that Olay Foaming wash is good.  It is very gentle. If your skin can tolerate a topical BP then use that.  Use it once a day.  If your skin reacts to that then use a gentle BP cleanser once a day.  I really like Panoxyl 10%.  It really works but is very gentle for sensitive skin.  Personally I have to use a topical antibiotic in addition to the BP cleanser because the BP is washed off.  Both BP cleanser and topical BP kill acne bacteria.   Use a moisturizer especially developed for acne prone skin.  None of the Clinique or Liz or department store brands work (even if they say they do) and this is because they have too many other additives, scents, etc.  When they or their staff say they work for blemished skin it means they work for people with extremely mild surface acne...the kind you can hardly see.  You have cystic acne.  This requires different kind of care. My derm swears by DML lotion.  You can get it online or at a drugstore.  It was developed for acne prone skin and for skincare following cosmetic surgery so you know it is mild and soothing. Hope this helps.  Oh - also pay attention to diet.  Avoid all dairy, sugars, caffeine, alcohol and processed oils.  This will make a dramatic difference in your skin inflammation.  Diet will not cure cystic acne by itself but used in conjunction with a BP product and gentle skincare you skin will clear up.  Please see my regime below.  It was developed for my horrid cystic acne and I am 100% clear now and have been for a long time.  I keep posting here because I want to see others avoid common mistakes in acne care.

#3457327 Eating Coconut Oil Does It Help Or Cause Acne?

Posted by cvd on 24 October 2014 - 11:58 AM

Everyone is different but for me any kind of processed oil (natural, organic or otherwise, including margarine, butter, vegetable oil, coconut oil, etc) has not been good for either my digestion nor my skin.  I prefer to get my oils in their natural state...whole and part of the foods they originate in --- i.e. eat wild salmon versus taking an omega-3 pill, eat whole coconut versus processed coconut oil, eat whole olives versus olive oil, etc.  I think the same thing can be said for oil as has been promoted for other foods...it is far healthier to eat whole foods versus processed.  Why?  Because there may be factors present in the whole food that help with digestion (enzymes) and assimilation that are lost when the whole food is broken up and parts extracted.    


I had terrible digestive problems until I started avoiding all processed oils.  Now I eat lots of wild fish, free range fowl, avocados, olives and other high fat foods in their whole and natural state and my digestion and elimination (sorry) is perfect.  And my skin has benefited too.  It took a couple of weeks to get the benefits but it was dramatic enough that I have no problem following this way of eating --- which is really more like how mankind traditionally ate!


You mention drinking coffee.  Coffee is a very concentrated drink (ground up roasted beans) and may be too harsh for a sensitive stomach due to naturally occurring acids.  If I might suggest an alternative.  I have found roasted dandelion root tea to be a tasty alternative.  It is especially nice with soymilk.  Plus dandelion root is good for inflammatory conditions.  You can find it in the health food store.  It has been used in Eastern European countries for centuries as a coffee substitute.

#3456453 Does Eating Too Much Honey Cause Acne?

Posted by cvd on 17 October 2014 - 04:13 PM

Honey is the same as white sugar to the body.  Doesn't matter that it's natural.  Yes, it does have some nutrients which is great for people who are not acne prone but if you get acne then you have to keep your internal sugar levels more balanced or lower than the general population.  In other words eat like as if you are diabetic.  Some derms think that adult acne is like diabetes of the skin.  


You must avoid all sugars (brown sugar, white sugar, honey, molasses, etc).  You can eat whole fruit but not fruit juices which are too concentrated --- hence too much sugar.


The honey/apple cider treatment may work for very very mild acne but cystic acne is different...deeper.  Cystic acne requires avoiding all sugars, dairy, caffeine, and anything you may be allergic to.

#3450886 What Did You Let Acne Take Away From You?

Posted by cvd on 06 September 2014 - 10:17 PM

Acne took many many years (decades) of my life away from me because I was consumed by how I looked, by how much my skin hurt, and fears about what others thought about me.  It took decades to get a regime that worked and I could use without damaging my body (...can't take accutane or full strength antibiotics forever!).  When my skin finally cleared up and healed it felt like my life was restored --- a rebirth --- like I had been on hold and now could be alive again.  When my skin was breaking out with deep painful infected cystic lesions I was so anxious and sad and without hope.  Now I'm happy and look forward to life.  It may be late in my life but everything is relative --- I feel whole...like I felt as a child before acne.  I wish I could have had an adulthood without acne but acne taught me great humility and empathy for others.  I don't take things for granted and I feel blessed each day.  When I had acne I tried to be positive and overcome how I looked but it was very hard, if not impossible, to do.  I lived with an underlying anxiety that never went away.  I hid my feelings...and regardless of acne still accomplished a lot in my life.  But sometimes I wonder how much more I could have done if I'd felt more secure, more sure of myself...like when I got up in the morning I could rely on my skin not to be broken out like a teenagers!  How amazing it would have been to grow out of acne in my 20's, to be able to concentrate on things other than my skin.  I have seen this happen for my own kids, for my nephews, for others.  But for me acne just got worse and worse.  It never went away despite all kinds of treatments.  Needless to say I am thankful beyond belief for my current derm, for his expertise with adult acne, for finally finding a regime that works.  

#3444609 After 1 Year On Regimen Not Working Going To The Derm For The First Time. Wha...

Posted by cvd on 31 July 2014 - 11:28 AM

This is great!  So glad to hear it's working.  You'll have setbacks from time to time...usually when hormones surge monthly but overall things will be under control and easier to live with.  FYI --- biggest mistake most people make is stopping tx when clear.  If you have acne as an adult you usually have to continue doing a maintenance regime of some kind to stay clear.  Your derm will guide you in what is best for your skin and acne type.  A researcher once wrote that adult acne is like diabetes of the skin so if that is even remotely true then it makes sense that you have to continue doing something...just like diabetics do.  Also try modifying diet to help with keeping clear. The diet that has worked best for me is avoiding dairy, sugary foods, alcohol, processed oils (dressings, fried foods, etc.) and eating whole fresh foods versus junk.  Just an idea to consider.

#3435258 Did Zinc Work For Anybody?

Posted by cvd on 07 June 2014 - 02:44 PM

I think zinc helps but personally I have to do other things as well to stay clear.  The usual dosage is 50 mg or less.  Shouldn't go above 50 mg on a regular basis.  Studies have shown that acne prone people are often low in zinc.  I like "NOW L-Opti Zinc" brand.  Also eat zinc rich foods as getting nutrients from foods is best.  Eat whole unprocessed foods and avoid diary, sugary foods, and processed oils.

#3434547 Why Hasn't Diet Had Any Effect On My Skin?

Posted by cvd on 02 June 2014 - 06:16 PM

I have some thoughts to share that I hope may be helpful.  First off you may have a bit of rosacea along with acne --- it often manifests as constant breakouts versus the cyclical kind that is purely hormonal.  So if that is true then diet will help.  But you may want to consider looking into a rosacea type of diet which will also take care of many facets of your acne too as it is basically anti-inflammatory.  


A very restricted diet to start will help you figure some of this out.  Remember though that it can take a month or two to see results as the clogged up pores you already have are clearing out.  You'll need to modify the diet to get the calories you need to function, especially if you're very active.  I do marathons so I have to keep my calories up while still eating in a way that keeps inflammation down.  


The diet which seems to be working for me, not only for my skin but also my digestion is wild fish, free-range poultry, fresh vegies, tubers (yams, potatoes with skins), rice, berries but not citrus --- no processed oils (margarine, butter, salad oils, etc.), junk foods, alcohol, spicy foods, sugary foods, nuts, dairy.  Much of this diet is similar to a rosacea diet.  Personally I find it to be a very calming diet. The two foods that were something I would never have considered eliminating were oils and nuts.  I had always eaten those things thinking they are really good for skin and they may be ok for people who don't get clogged up pores but if you are prone to acne you may want to avoid them.  I really saw an incredible change when I avoided processed oils.  Just my experience.



Unlike most people on this forum, I do use some meds (Spiro, a BP cleanser, a topical antibiotic) and I do monthly microdermabrasions.  I continued to break out on just the meds but adding the diet finally got me clear and has kept me clear.  

#3429704 Weaning Off Doxy - Wish Me Luck!

Posted by cvd on 02 May 2014 - 10:08 AM

Thanks!  I'm now completely off doxy...all done!  Have been now for almost a week and so far no flare-ups.  Spiro by itself never kept me clear.  It was the addition of everything else that finally got me clear.  I think spiro helps as part of an overall regime, at least for me.  But I probably have the most resistant chronic acne in the world...have had it since teens and am now in 60's.  Yes, I'm too old for this stuff but nothing by itself worked...not diet, not individual meds, nothing.  It wasn't until my current derm who put me on a multi-prong approach (pills + topicals + microdermabrasion + diet) that my acne finally cleared up.  But the goal is to eventually try to get me off all oral meds...even the spiro if possible.  Could be as I get older hormones will be less of an issue but we live forever in my family (100's) so being 63 is still rather young and I'm still sensitive to androgens - hence need for spiro right now.

#3427755 Weaning Off Doxy - Wish Me Luck!

Posted by cvd on 21 April 2014 - 05:44 PM

Still doing great and now down to only three 20 mg doxy pills a week.  In a couple of weeks will be all done with doxy.  Yeah!  Wish I had had the guts to do this earlier.  I really think the combo of Panoxyl 4% cleanser (BP) + Cleocin-T (topical antibiotic) + monthly microdermabrasions and the daily spiro are eneough to keep me clear, along with my diet that is whole nutrient dense foods and avoids dairy, sugars, processed oils, etc.  

#3425767 Weaning Off Doxy - Wish Me Luck!

Posted by cvd on 11 April 2014 - 10:03 PM

So far so good...skin is staying clear!  Next Monday I'll be at 5 total for the week (20 mg each) and two days with no doxy at all.  I'm being really careful to eat my rosacea/acne diet which is basically an anti-inflammatory low glycemic diet that is nutrient dense.  Keeping fingers crossed that this works. 

#3424878 Weaning Off Doxy - Wish Me Luck!

Posted by cvd on 07 April 2014 - 09:05 AM

It's been one week since I weaned down from 40 mg/day to 20 mg/day and each week I'll wean off one day until I'm done (7 weeks).  Today was my first day of not taking any doxy at all...the rest of the week I'll take 20 mg/day and then next week wean off two days (Mon & Wed) and so on.  Eventhough it was only a low anti-inflammatory dose (not antibiotic) the doxy was still causing some stomach upset at 40 mg/day...and even at 20 mg/day.  So it has been very nice today to not have any stomach issue.  Plus I can now take my probiotic first thing in the morning which is a plus for my bod. 


Thus far my skin has been doing fine.  No flare-ups or anything.  But I am also being very careful about following a low inflammatory rosacea diet and avoiding triggers.  The true test will be when I'm traveling and can't avoid triggers...this is when my skin usually flares up --- not so much acne as rosacea p&p's...which for me are somewhat different.  The low dose doxy was for my rosacea p&ps which are different than the acne I also have.  All of this is about weaning off oral meds and only using topicals.  That's my ultimate goal...if possible.


I've made significant changes in diet in the past several years (religiously avoiding dairy, sugars, rosacea triggers, added oils, etc.) that also include concentrating on whole nutrient dense foods.  Especially avoiding oils has made a huge difference.

#3424515 Weaning Off Doxy - Wish Me Luck!

Posted by cvd on 05 April 2014 - 11:17 AM

I'm in the process of weaning off doxy and will share my progress in case anyone is interested.  I've taken 40 mg of doxy for over two years now without a problem.  I'd taken Oracea before this but it was too expensive and so switched to low dose doxy (anti-inflamatory versus antibiotic dose).  When I took Oracea it really didn't do much of anything and I'm not sure the doxy has either.  I'm on a complex tx regime (see below) so who knows for sure what is doing what.  I stated one week ago slowly weaning off doxy to see what happens.  My ultimate goal is to only use topicals.  Getting off of doxy (even an anti-inflammatory dose) I think is healthier for my body longterm. 


 I've been clear for a long time, especially after my derm started the BP cleanser (Panoxyl) + topical antibiotic (Cleocin-T) + monthly microdermabrasions combo.  Even on this regime I can sometimes get really tiny flat lesions, only a couple at a time...that sometimes have pus, sometimes not.  They seem to come up after eating rosacea triggers so I think they must be rosacea (I also have been diagnosed with acne).  Avoiding added oils also really helped clear up my skin.


So that brings me to weaning off the doxy.  I'm one week into it and my skin seems about the same.  I'm down to 20 mg doxy once a day.  Then I will take one less doxy a week until totally weaned (7 weeks).  Have to admit I'm a bit nervous about tinkering with things...but here goes!

#3420824 Advice And Encouragement Plea!

Posted by cvd on 17 March 2014 - 11:29 AM

Hang in there.  I've been on Spiro for years and years.  It takes a long time to work.  It works slowly to block androgen receptors and thus the skin gets less and less androgen and then less and less breakouts.  But this takes time.  All your plugged up pores from before have to clean out.  This can also take a very long time especially if you were prone to deeper breakouts.  You are on a very common regime that does work...for most people.


For me more was needed to get clear --- and to have a regime I could tolerate for basically forever since it has been determined my acne is here to stay (I'm 62).  My derm added benzoil peroxide cleanser in the morning and a topical (cleomycin-t) once a day.  It was the addition of these two that finally got me clear...but what also helped tremendously was avoiding all added processed fats from oils, margarines, etc.  I eat whole foods naturally high in fat such as avocado but I avoid all processed fats.  This really helped the process of keeping my pores clear and my skin soooo much less oily.


Your diet isn't boring!  You will look much younger much longer and will be much healthier than your peers as you get older.  I started eating healthy in my 30's when my acne was still acting up.  It helped but I also had to finally resort to mainstream meds.  But regardless, my healthy eating resulted in my having extremely young looking skin...hardly any wrinkles!  And I'm far healthier than most my age (do marathons, very active, etc.).  So it's a good thing to do anyway.


Don't give up.  One huge mistake I made was giving up on meds when they weren't working and trying to go natural methods.  HUGE mistake...I ended up with horrid cystic acne in midlife --- so embarrasing.  I wasn't able to admit that this @#$% acne wasn't going to go away.  And like you I just couldn't live with it.  Some people can but I am an attractive woman and having inflammed acne in midlife just wasn't what I wanted.  So in my mid-40's I went back on meds.  Spiro alone at first, then added an antibiotic, and then finally in my 50's they got it right.  I just needed a bit of everything...see regime below.


Another thing that really helped and that might help you too is monthly microdermabrasion.  My derm swears by it for chronic adult acne.  He says it cleans out the pores and gets that top layer of skin off so that the meds can work properly.  He says that often adults with acne don't shed skin properly and yet have too sensitive skin for the common teen meds like salicylic acid or topical benzoil peroxide (that's why he recommends a BP cleanser...much milder).  The kind he recommends is the one that is done with a diamond tip versus the crystals.  I get these once a month...spendy but they are a godsend.


I hope this helps you.  You can PM me if you want.  I know what it's like to dispair!

#3419337 Presentation To Do, Stress Making Acne Worse

Posted by cvd on 09 March 2014 - 11:11 AM

Hi Stirling


Acne can be so awful...emotionally especially.  And when it happens on your face it's even worse because that's where everyone looks.  I can empathize.  I've dealt with acne on my face my whole adult life and I'm old now.  Sometimes meds clear it up and sometimes they don't.  I'm on a regime (below) that has cleared up almost all of it (I had horrid cystic acne before) but I still get 1-2 small inflammed whiteheads on my cheeks that my derm thinks is rosacea. 


You're still young so hopefully you'll outgrow it.  My son outgrew the worst of his acne in his mid-20's but he still gets a pimple here and there and he's in his 30's now. 


I'm sharing this because I want to give you some thoughts about how to handle your acne.  Like I said hopefully you will outgrow yours but if you're unlucky and keep on having it...just remember that life goes on.  It does.  And you can decide if you want it to cripple you or if you'll just get on with life. 


I'm also a "stressy" person.  This is mostly due to never knowing how my skin is going to look.  From what you say, I think my skin was much worse than yours but even now that it's better I stress over even tiny whiteheads thinking they're going to blossom into full-face acne like I had before (terrifying).  This may be happening to you because of how your back was...and now your face is breaking out.  The mind goes into "what if" mode and worry sets in.


Despite how awful my skin was I went ahead and did presentations...rose to the top of my career and was head of a large department.  Did I say my skin was awful?  It was.  I had cystic acne like you had on your back.  I was on meds that helped.  I took accutane twice.  I got glimpses of how life could be for people with clear skin --- never having to worry.  But that was short-lived and I was back to the usual inflammed face.  Yet despite all this I made friends.  I gave seminars.  And being a woman it was even harder because all the magazines show perfectly clear skin and give advice...like as if if you still have acne you must not be washing your face or doing the right thing.  Very embarrasing.  But I went on and lived life...married, had kids, and now am still in a very public job.


Since I've been dealing with acne for so long I'm sure I have "Acne PTSD" (post-traumatic stress disorder).  It takes very little to trigger my feelings of shame regarding my skin and also feelings of panic.  I know what it is.  And it sounds like you are beginning to develop some of that because your facial acne is not that bad and yet you are feeling ashamed and poorly about yourself and it is getting in the way of living life fully.


My recommendation is that you talk with a counselor about this.  Be honest with the counselor and talk about how your acne is affecting you, especially when you have to give presentations.  It will help!  Besides dealing with the self-image issue it will also help you in feeling better about presentations.


Talking with friends might help but a therapist or professional counselor is trained to help with this kind of issue...and to help you cope better.


Here's two other scenarios of people I know who have coped much more successfully with acne than I have.  One is my son who had horrid acne...much worse than yours and even mine.  He got over the worst of it with age but was still breaking out.  He purposely decided to ignore it emotionally.  He uses some acne products (tea tree shampoos and body wash, salicylic acid facial wash, etc.) but doesn't freak out when he breaks out...he just goes on with his life.  He travels, got his master's degree and is now a therapist.  He once told me that he just accepts it as part of who he is and when he breaks out he just goes ahead with life. 


The other person is my nephew who is in his early 20's.  He is still coping with horrid cystic acne.  He is on meds but they just clear it up a little bit.  I saw him yesterday.  He had inflammed acne all over the side of his face and some lesions on the front.  He leaves it alone...ignores it and goes on with life.  Funny thing is I noticed it for a few minutes and then forgot he had it.  He was smiling, happy and fully engaged with everyone.  He has a beautiful girlfriend (clear skin) who adores him.  Here's this guy with terrible acne but he's not letting it get in the way of his life.  I'm sure he's bothered by it but he's not going to let it stop him from living fully.


Honestly, I am still crippled by my acne at times but then I remember that it is all in my head.  Yes, this is a horrid disease...but it is just a disease like other diseases.  We cope, we go on, we find ways to feel better even in the worst of it. 


Hopefully you will get lots of support here.  You can private message me if you want.  You will be okay!