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Member Since 15 May 2007
Offline Last Active Feb 16 2015 02:40 PM

#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.

#3441361 If My Diet Is So Great, Why Isn't My Skin Great?

Posted by cvd on 14 July 2014 - 05:02 PM

Blackheads can sometimes get inflamed which is part of the process of a clogged pore becoming infected with acne bacteria.  That said, lots of people with blackheads don't progress to inflamed lesions.  If you will or won't depends on many factors including skin type, hormones, sensitivity to acne bacteria, degree of general body inflammation, etc.  


Usually inflammatory acne develops after a pore is clogged with a tiny plug that is microscopic within the pore.  This tiny plug deprives the pore of oxygen which creates the perfect environment for acne bacteria to multiply.  Then inflammation and infection can begin which results in visible lesions.  Bigger plugs like blackheads can do it too.


This brings us to diet and Dan's regime.  Diet can help the body deal with inflammation better, lower inflammation, and help to balance hormones and hormonal reactions.  Consequently there is less oil so there are fewer plugs.  If a pore does get clogged and infected with acne bacteria the skin's reaction is less inflammatory because the whole body is calmer and not so reactive.  For some people diet alone is sufficient to control acne...skin plugs are then naturally expelled before serious inflammation sets in...hence less or no acne.


For other people diet is not enough.  I am one of those people.  I need some meds along with diet.  However meds alone did not get me clear...adding a whole foods diet and avoiding dairy-sugar-processed fats (very similar to Piagem) finally got me clear.  I went to many derms over the years (am 63 now) who said diet did not matter.  But I am living proof that diet does matter, that meds are not enough for some people and a good anti-acne diet can help tip the scale to clear skin.  


Dan writes about his regime helping.  It does this by using BP which opens up the pores, even clogged pores, to allow oxygen in which kills acne bacteria.  BP also helps dissolve the plugs.  I personally can't use BP topically because I have extremely sensitive skin but a BP cleanser works great and is gentle enough for my skin.  I also recommend microderms to help keep pores clear of dead skin which is part of what plugs are made of...that and oils.  


P.S.  Piagems --- I can not eat nuts of any kind.  They clog me up every time.  However other foods with natural fats are just fine for my skin (avocado, fish, etc.).  It was extremely hard for me to give up nuts so I did specific experiments where I'd eat nuts and record what happened versus when I avoided nuts.  For me, there was a definite increase in facial oil when I ate nuts and inflamed acne.  You may want to do a similar experiment and see what happens.  I hope that nuts (cashews) are not an issue for you.  I know they are a big component of many vegan type diets...but if they are an issue for you there are ways to still get needed calories and make delicious meals without them.

#3437093 Spiro Advise

Posted by cvd on 20 June 2014 - 02:49 PM

Everyone's different so who knows?  You know your body best.  As for the red face...tazorac is a retinoid and that can cause skin irritation.  They say that using it just as prescribed and with time the skin usually stops reacting so much.  BP can also be irritating.  You may want to speak with your derm about the redness.  Personally I can't use any retinoids because they are way too irritating for my sensitive skin...I've tried several times but always have to stop.  Just in case your redness doesn't go away or gets worse --- an alternate regime for sensitive skin is BP cleanser plus a topical antibiotic (see below).  Also your derm might have you do either the gel or the BP every other day until you skin calms down.  Key here is to not aggravate the skin too much for too long or the inflammation will keep the acne flaring up.

#3436602 Is My Acne Bad? (Pictures)U

Posted by cvd on 17 June 2014 - 11:06 AM

No --- your acne is moderate and seems to be more surface than the deep cystic kind.  Your kind of acne should respond very well to the treatments you are on.  It will take a month or more to get you clear because it takes time for residual acne to make it's way to the surface and for any plugged up pores to open up.  Don't change anything you have been prescribed to do and don't change cleansers, etc....especially if you start to get impatient.  This is the biggest mistake acne patients make...changing routines or getting fed up before treatments have a chance to work.  When you wash be sure to do it extremely gently...this is very important when using the kind of topical treatments you are on.  They work better if the skin is less inflamed.  You may also want to avoid dairy and sugary foods.  Eat as wholesome as you can and cut down on processed fats (no junk foods).  This will also help your skin heal and be less inflamed.


Another thing to remember is that you will have some residual red marks that will take several months to go away.  If they stay around longer you may want to do microderms every other month to help the marks go away.                                     

#3436502 More-Than-Persistant Acne

Posted by cvd on 16 June 2014 - 05:24 PM

Hi Dee --- I too was put on tons of things...accutane worked while I was on it but acne came back when stopped...and full strength antibiotics were the only other thing that kept me mostly clear.  What finally got me clear was a combination treatment that attacks acne on multiple fronts.  My derm is a specialist in resistant adult acne...a genius.  Before this other derms had me on one thing or another but usually just one or two things at a time but that approach did not stop acne, especially the cystic kind.  


This is my current derm's treatment that I have stayed clear on now for several years (yeah!!!):


1. Monthly microderms to open pores, get rid of dead skin and pull out plugs.

2. Panoxyl 4% BP cleanser in the morning to kill acne bacteria (is gentler than topical for adult sensitive skin).

3. Topical Cleocin-T to further kill acne bacteria and provide a barrier for the day.

4. DML lotion to soothe and heal skin (developed especially for acne prone skin).

5. Cetaphil antibacterial cleanser in evening followed by DML lotion.  Spot treat with Cleocin-T if needed.

6. 100 mg spiro per day (blocks androgen receptors but is not a hormone --- very safe).


In addition I eat only whole unprocessed foods and avoid all dairy, breads, processed oils, sugary foods, and alcohol.  This is the same diet that cultures that don't get acne eat and it is an anti-inflammatory diet as well.  I also avoid caffeine and fermented foods as these seem to inflame my sensitive skin.


I hope this helps you.

#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.

#3435123 Spiro Advise

Posted by cvd on 06 June 2014 - 04:15 PM

Spiro blocks androgens so it should not cause acne.  It takes months to kick in so the cyst you have now is not from the spiro.  Cysts take a long time to develop deep within the skin (weeks)...unlike more surface acne.  Spiro will help dry up your oily skin.  Stick with your derm's advice...exactly.  Don't play around with treatment but instead tell your derm what is happening and let him/her decide what to do next.  I'd say that the one cyst you got was probably a fluke and due to starting and stopping the birth control, since you say it made your skin more oily and that could have started the cycle of a cyst (timing is right too for it to suddenly show up now...weeks later).  Is your skin tolerating the topical treatments (BP, antibiotic, etc.)?  If so then also keep doing them.  BP takes a while to kick in too.  


You may want to keep a log of your breakouts, especially if you've been breaking out for awhile and are on new treatments.  This will help you see how your skin is dealing with things over time and will really help your derm figure out how your individual skin works.  It takes some experimenting to get things just right.  


You should also try avoiding all dairy, sugary foods, alcohol, and oils (dressings, margarines, etc.).  This will help your skin to calm down and also help to balance hormone fluctuations.  Avoiding oils will help your skin be less oily and unclog pores.

#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.  

#3432461 Help! It Just Keeps Spreading

Posted by cvd on 19 May 2014 - 07:17 PM

The cycle of better and worse is not unusual with acne because it is directly affected by the increase and decrease of hormones, especially androgens, in our body.  Hormones surge naturally and when there is ongoing stress and when you eat hormone laden foods (dairy, red meats, etc).


The reason for a multi-prong treatment approach is to make sure that even if a surge happens the skin has what it needs to effectively shed dead cells that clog pores and to kill acne bacteria if that fails.  People with acne are usually sensitive to hormones and have skin that sheds poorly.  It is often too hard to totally figure out why hormones are surging...it just happens.


People with normal skin also have surges but genetically they may have much dryer skin and have pores that shed well and don't clog up as much.  Also they may have less of an inflammatory response and this also helps pores stay clear.  And thus less acne. 


A first cue that hormones are surging is an increase in oily skin...and then pores clog and acne happens. A preventative approach is one that helps the skin to function well even if there are problems.  


First avoid all oils in the diet except for oil that is naturally in foods (avocado, salmon, etc.).  Some people with really chronic acne also avoid nuts as they are too oily even in their natural state.  If you do this you will notice a dramatic decrease in oily skin within 2 weeks.  This is not talked about much but it works and is based on cultures that don't get acne...they don't eat processed oils (oil, margarine, butter, mayo, etc.) at all.  


You have to use a cleanser or topical that helps the pores stay open and clear.  I use a BP cleanser (Panoxyl 4%) that is very effective but gentle.  There's lots of other options depending on what your skin likes.  Some people swear by salicylic acid...personally it makes my skin red and raw.  


Then you need to use an antibiotic topical.  Some people like tea tree oil products, others like BP.  I like Cleocin-T...mild but effective.


And of course...Spiro will help decrease the amount of androgens affecting your skin.  It takes about 4-5 months for Spiro to kick in.  But at least for me, spiro is only effective when used with the whole regime below.


Hope this helps.  

#3432284 Help! It Just Keeps Spreading

Posted by cvd on 18 May 2014 - 04:10 PM

Yes --- a bacteria laden environment along with broken sensitive skin (active lesions) could have aggravated your acne.  Plus I'm sure it was emotionally stressful.  I broke out more when caring for my mom who was in diapers and it was hard to keep things clean.  Hopefully being home and in a cleaner environment will help...along with less stress!  


FYI: spiro is one of the most benign ways to assist hormone issues, especially sensitivity to androgens...mainly because it is not a hormone itself --- it only blocks androgens but putting itself into the androgen receptors.  I wouldn't be afraid of it.  I have read tons of info on it, most written by doctors saying spiro is okay to take long term for acne.  In fact it was originally developed as a really mild diuretic for heart issues that could be taken forever.


The only other way to help your body regarding hormones is to avoid dairy, red meats, and chronic stress.  That said, you may be able to avoid spiro or the hormone issue by making sure your pores work as well as possible...which means being on a treatment regime that opens pores, helps dead cells slough off and kills acne bacteria effectively.  BP does this, as does topical antibiotics. 


I have been on spiro since 2001 with no problems.  By itself it did not keep me clear but as part of the regime below (see signature) I think it helps.  That said, I intend to try weaning off of it next year because my ultimate goal is to only use topicals and diet if possible.