Heredity: "its in your genes"
Sadly this is one area that we cannot do much about. Some of us have acne because one or both of our parents had acne.
In my case my mother has flawless skin. My dad on the other hand hand acne through his teenage years and tends to still breakout when under stress. We can't fight heredity...or can we?
We can't change what is programmed in our genes. What we can do is fight as heck to keep it under control. I wish there was a cure!! But when the underlying cause of acne is hereditary, you mantra is "yeah I have it...now what can I do to keep it under control".
Well this is the area I will be talking about over the counter products (OTC), home remedies and prescription meds.
Over-the-counter acne medications:
I'm not going to go into depth about each OTC acne medication as there are way too many. If you a question about a specific one please post a comment. What is important to know when shopping for an acne treatment is what the active ingredient in the product. Most OTC acne treatment are made from the following active ingredient:
Benzol Peroxide works by removing excess oil from skin and by shedding dead skin cells that block pores.
Salicylic Acid according to may clinic.com salicylic acid works "by shedding of cells inside the hair follicles which prevents the pores fro clogging".
Glycolic Acid work by removing dead cells and also reduce inflammation.
Sulfur removes dead skin cells and also removes excess oils.
Acne.org has a great list of OTC acne products and what they are made of.
Home remedies: I will dedicate a post later to this topic:)
It's sad to say that none of the OTC products worked for me. Especially the ones from the local drug store. Maybe they are good for those that get the occasional pimple but for someone like me who had serious ACNE...the drugstore products were too mild and had no effect. I found all of them very drying for my sensitive skin and would leave my skin itchy, dry and red.
If I had to choose one of the above active ingredient based products I would say that the Murads products which are salicylic based worked best for me. I think because salicylic has an anti-inflammatory affect it reduced the inflammation of my acne lesions and the redness. I definitely recommend Murad acne system for those that have moderate to severe acne.
Proactiv works well for moderate acne. It didn't do much for me though:(
There were a few prescription meds that I took in my late teens and through my 20s that helped not only with controlling my acne but also preventing scarring.
I started with tetracycline which did control my acne to a certain point until my body became used to it. The problem was that when I stopped the tetra the acne came back. That is when a friend recommended accutane.
I started accutane when I was 17 or 18. I did a five month cycle of accutane of I believe 100mg daily dose. The first month on accutane my skin got really dry and flaky. Hydrating my skin was key. Remembering to drink plenty of water and applying moisturizer. I highly recommend toleriane la roche posy. This is an excellent rich almost like an emollient that hydrates your skin. Don't be afraid of the rich texture...you are taking accutane after all. I will go into depth on facial moisturizers and make up in another post.
I also remember that my lips were chapped so chap stick or vaseline intensive care for lip care was important. Girls forget lipstick when on accutane...keep you lips glossy with some vaseline.
Another issue I encountered on accutane was that my eyes would get really dry. I wear contacts and I remember my optician telling me to hydrate my eyes with lubricating drops but I didn't listen. I ended up scratching my cornea with my contact lenses (the cornea repairs pretty quickly).
Some key things to remember when on accutane is to stay away from waxing. Your skin becomes very dry and can easily tear and can lead to scarring. If shaving shave carefully, do not cut yourself or you may scar.
Do not get laser while taking accutane.
Results from accutane is exactly what it promises clear beautiful skin. I had the most amazing skin after accutane. My self esteem sky rocketed and I loved myself. This euphoric feeling was however was short lived....for a year to be exact. My acne came back:( I was so heart broken. I remember crying so much when my acne retuned. I thought accutane was the cure...I thought after 5 months of accutane my acne would disappear forever. For some that may be the case but it wasn't for me.
My personal theory is that if it's in you DNA then acne is not going to go away with just oral pills. That's the crapy thing about genetics...you can't beat it! So a year later I went on another course of accutane...I'm not sure if it is "allowed" but my doctor prescribed it again for 3 months and the acne dormant period was shorter this time and returned after a few months. I was then placed on Minocycline.
Minocycline is an antibiotic which has possible anti-inflammatory properties. This was a good medication to be on for a year. It kept my acne under control effectively. During this year I worked on other aspects of controlling acne such as modifying my diet, going to an acne clinic, changing my cleansers etc... I will definitely discuss this in another post...it's one of my fav topics.
Retin A cream 0.025%. This is a magic potion in a tube. I highly recommend this cream for controlling acne. Retin A works by shedding older skin and replacing with new skin thus preventing the formation of papules. I used this cream in conduction with Minocycline. The cream takes a while to kick in but when it does it works beautifully in preventing new pimples from forming.
The added benefit to Retin A is that it is excellent for treating and preventing wrinkles. I used this cream religiously:)
*just a tip get the cream not the gel. I found the gel burned my skin.
I will also discuss which vitamins I took that helped control my acne, visiting acne clinics, face creams, make-up and so much more in my up coming blogs.
If you have any questions please post a comment or visit my blog at
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Diet is a stimulus that produces an inflammatory response in your body thus causing acne. I believe that diet plays a huge role in causing and controlling acne.
Diet Theory 1:According to some doctors if you eat food that cause your glucose levels to rise you can get acne. This is an interesting theory which I believe has some merit. It's like diabetes, when your blood sugars rise it causes damage to your cells, which is why diabetics take insulin to lower their blood sugar levels so it doesn't do any damage to their cells or blood vessels. Well, what the diet theory in relation to acne is saying is that if your sugar (glucose) levels increase then the glucose causes damage (inflammation) to your sebaceous cells thus leading to overproduction in oil. So the debate over whether chocolate causes acne...well technically it doesn't but it does raise your glucose index thus leading to overproduction in oil thus leading to acne:(
Diet theory 2: Another diet theory mention that you may be allergic to certain foods thus causing an allergic reaction (inflammation) in your body, leading to an acne outbreak. I highly believe in this theory.
When I first read about the relationship between food and acne it was overwhelming! I mean what did that mean...did I have to change everything I ate? I was willing to do what it took to keep my acne under control. So I researched which foods were the biggest culprits in causing a surge in glucose levels. During my research, I began to realize that ALL foods can cause a rise in glusose levels.
I started to keep a rough diary of what I ate for about a week. It makes no sense to adapt a new diet when all you have to do is modify your existing diet. I realized that I ate a very regular diet week after week. I began to notice that I ate bread in the morning almost everyday with eggs or cereal, for lunch I usually had a sandwich of some sort and for dinner a meat dish with either pasta or rice. The only fruits I ever ate were bananas, strawberries sometimes cherries. The point here is to look at what you eat and you'll realize that you pretty much eat a very consistent diet.
If you did a google search on glucose index and acne you will find lists of foods that are low in Glusose index. You can honestly go crazy trying to calculate your glucose index and trust me you don't have to nit-pick on every single food. The general rule of thumb is to eat in moderation.
Keep away from foods that have high glucose index such as starches for example potatoes, white enriched bread, white rice.
High sugar fruits such as oranges, pineapples, raspberries
Anything that has high content of sugar such as cookies, chocolate etc...
Substitute with: sweet potatoes, whole wheats breads and brown rice
Eat fruits such as blueberries,
nuts make excellent snacks
I also realized that I was allergic to certain foods. Now I don't know if I'm "Allergic" or is it a "food sensitivity"...what ever you call it I have noticed that I break out when I consume certain foods. The list of foods that I break out to are:
Dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese
Wine or beer
I figured it out just by random. The days I had a real bad break out I would go through what I have eaten in the last 24 -48 hrs. Slowly I made a connection between the above mentions food and my acne break out. If you think you have a food "allergy" or food "sensitivity" try to avoid eating that food for a week and see what happens.
I had a food sensitivity test done by a homeopath and she mentioned that I was allergic to brewery yeast which explained why I would always break out after having wine or beer. Do I recommend getting a food sensitivity test by a homeopath...no. The methods she used were not supported by science and she missed my soy milk allergy.
Since I started to avoid dairy products I had to take a calcium supplement. The best are tums. Recently I switched to a product called CAL-MAG+1000 IU VITAMIN D3 LIQUID made by CYTO.MATRIX which is sold at natures source. This product gives me the daily requirements of calcium, magnesium and Vit D. The best part of this product is that it is in a liquid form which is good for better absorption by your body. If you are a tea drinker like me and would like milk for your tea try goats milk. I have not reacted to that.
1) Eat in moderation to keep glucose levels low.
2) Eat foods that are low in calories and sugars but are high in protein
3) Try to pin point which foods you may be allergic to and try to avoid them as much was possible.
4) Anytime you consume something new, wait 24-48 hrs to see if you react to an acne breakout.
GOOD READS: If you want more info on the glucose index diet check out he book "The Clear skin Diet" written by Alan C. Logan and Valori Treloar.
Another good book is "The Clear Skin Prescription" By Nicholas Perricone.
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