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From the time I was 13, I have suffered from severe acne. When I say severe, I mean I had acne all over my face and back coupled with painful cysts which would grow under my skin. It destroyed my confidence. At the age of 19, I tried Accutane for the first time and I'm happy to say it permanently eliminated the back acne, but two years later, my face acne returned and I had to go on a second round of accutane. Again, I saw success, but only for a couple of years after treatment. The acne has persisted well into my thirties, and I have tried every treatment known to man: astringents, creams, soaps, diets, drinking Apple Cider Vinegar (oh god, I will never touch that stuff again), herbs, vitamins. Accutane is expensive and is extremely difficult to obtain for a woman, and sometimes it can take months to actually start treatment if you can't get in to see a dermatologist soon and have to go through the tedium of proving you aren't pregnant, on two forms of birth control, etc.
So I have been taking 27,000 I.U of vitamin A (The kind that is Retinol-derived) daily for the past few months. It takes a bit to see results, but my skin looks wonderful. No more cysts, no more zits. I look great for the first time ever.
I ignored all of the cautions about vitamin A toxicity and thought that "they" wouldn't sell a product over the counter if it could be dangerous. And, I thought, it's just a vitamin so how much harm could it do??
The answer is A LOT. I took high doses of Vitamin A (can't remember how much exactly but somewhere between 25,000 and 50,000 IU, and within a couple weeks, I was getting nauseous after every meal. I passed out twice, once in a restaurant after breakfast and once in my parent's kitchen. When I went to the doctor, they discovered my liver was inflamed. The problem is that Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, no a water soluble one, so it only leaves your body when fat stores are burned. In other words, once you reach toxic levels it's not easy to detox.
Here's some science to back up what I'm saying: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2019375
Long story short, it's been years, and I only took it for a couple weeks, and I'm still showing signs of liver disease. And for those of you whose vanity prevents you from caring about your health, you should know that disease in the liver often manifests in your complexion and your nail and hair health. People who are dying of liver failure have gross, sallow, pasty complexions with large pores.
Bottom line, it's NOT worth it. Stay away.
I had moderate-severe acne from age 14-18 (peaking my 1st yr in college which was awesome) and at that point my derm finally recommended a course of accutane. That gave me roughly 6-7 years of clear skin with mild, normal breakouts here and there. My skin then progressively got worse until now (28).
Because I had no insurance, I started researching an alternative approach and discovered isotretinoin was synthesized from retinol (vit A) and that several studies predating the synthesis of isotretinoin had indicated that large doses of A were effective in treating acne. Taking megadoses of A comes with side effects and possible hepatoxicity so there is a risk. I urge you to research instances of A toxicity in medical journals and take note of the dose.
I began taking mega doses of A (I won't say the actual amount but it was way north of 10,000iu). My skin started improving in days. My bacne and chest acne (which was considerable) cleared up 95% in the first month. My face still breaks out but it is improved about 70%. I got dry lips, mild joint pain, and other typical side effects. I am past 3 months of my course but will most likely continue for 2 more months (5 mo total). The amount my body acne has been cleared has been dramatic. I still have acne but this has been well worth it for me. Just had to share my experience. Hopefully this helps someone.
It's just not healthy to supplement with vitamin A. If you want to go that route, it's better to go through a regimen of Accutane supervised by your doctor. I don't even really recommend Accutane if you can help it. Megadoses of vitamin A and Accutane are so hard on your body & have bad side effects. I've taken vitamin A and I've taken Accutane (not at the same time). Even though Accutane cleared my skin for 1 year, I wouldn't take it again. I experienced the same side effects with both. However, with the OTC supplement, I felt like my skin stuck in a never-ending purge whereas on Accutane, there was one bad initial purge.
Do it if you have body acne.
My naturopath told me to take 50,000 I.U daily to help with my cystic acne. She also advised to skip on food that can cause inflammation (tomatoes/ potatoes/junk good/ sugar). I food liquid fish oil (lemon flavoured and ate lots of fish and veggies that are good for your skin (avocados/leafy greens). Also was told to get at least 30 minutes of sun on my face per day. My skin dried out a lot and it was very red and flaky but the size of my pimples drastically changed after 2 weeks. I am still on the pills and will be meeting with a dermatologist in a month to decide the best course of action. Overall tho I wished I had started this over a year ago when my acne started to get bad. I would recommend it to those who are looking for a solution. Stick to it tho and don't miss a dosage. I take 20,000 I.U in the morning, 10,000 with breakfast and 20,000 with dinner. Drink lots of water as well. Hope this helps someone out there.
After years of trying countless other treatments (doxy, zinc, OTC & prescription treatments, chemical peels, natural remedies, TTO,etc) To my dismay, My dermatologist FINALLY recommended I try Accutane. (He was very anti Accutane). I was thrilled, that is, until I discovered my insurance wouldn't cover it and I couldn't afford treatment since I had bills/rent/tuition that I could barely afford to begin with. After thoroughly researching tons of acne boards and medical websites I came to the decision to start taking Vitamin A, as a substitute for Accutane. Although it's not advised, I've been taking "megadoses" of Vitamin A. (60,000 - 120,000 iu) per day and after just a couple weeks my skin looks TREMENDOUSLY better. I really wish I knew about this before. I am aware that there are MAJOR RISKS associated with toxicity levels of Vitamin A. So before anyone tries it, discuss it with your doctor, or at the very least do your own research.
First and foremost, I am 25, male, and I get cystc acne, very painful deep cysts on my forehead, usually very oilly skin.
With that, I have taken everything, antibitoics, topicals, masks, every vitamin under the sun, you name it - I tried it..
My derm wanted me to take accutane, but I refused and decided to treat my acne holistically. Reading up on accutane, I decided Vitamin A might be a good place to start.
It has to be in the form of Retinyl Palmitate, perferrably mixed with Beta Carotene. I am taking a 25,000iu Retinyl(10,000) Beta(15000).
Be very, very careful with toxicity. It happened to me. Your liver will hurt, joints, head will POUND, eyes blurr, it is not fun. You have to be smart about this. Try one pill every other, or even every 3 days. Also, take Vitamin C and Zinc ( Airborne Chewable - Berry my fav :) )
Keep up your facial regimine, twice daily, light mosturizer only on the spots that need it, and salicylic acid spot treatment at bed time.
I tried this vitamin because I figured it was the only vitamin I hadn't tried for my acne. I had been taking zinc 50mg every now and then (and noticed that it also seemed to help) alongside a multivitamin (which contains about 530 mg vitamin A). The only big thing left to supplement that was known to help acne was vitamin A. I had been apprehensive since there are toxicity issues with this vitamin because it is fat soluble. I researched how much I could take without toxicity, and figured I wouldn't end up taking it all the time or in large amounts once my skin clears. I've been taking 2 (10,000IU) pills a day (spaced out), or one pill a day (depending if I remembered the second or if I ate something I knew had alot of beta-carotene or natural vitamin A in it). My scars and hyper-pigmentation are calming down. I haven't had any knew breakouts. I wish I had tried this sooner. I think this vitamin A is increasing the efficacy of my external skin care regime because my skin is obviously healing faster since using both the vitamin A and the Murad acne system. I read that taking zinc and vitamin C help to minimize the toxicity effects of vitamin A, so I have been taking both on an irregular basis alongside the vitamin A. I also read that taking vitamin A with fat increases absorption, so I take it alongside my fish oil supplements. I think my combination seems to be working =)