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It's Time To Get Serious!

Know Hope


I am done with acne. It gets better, I get complacent, and then it gets worse and I'm spending my precious free time on acne.org searching for an answer. I know my acne is caused by hormonal issues and I feel as I am so close to finally figuring it out. This blog is to help me figure out what the patterns with what's going on, and to relieve some of this stress. For the most part, I cover up my acne really well so no one knows how big of a problem it is for me. My boyfriend has perfect skin and can't understand. Meanwhile, the idea of living with him fills me with dread because then he'll see me without make up and I rarely leave the house without it.

I've had acne for over 20 years. In the last 5 years I have made huge discoveries that have improved my skin greatly:

1. Make up can cause acne - I have switched to Almay and don't get as many breakouts. I think going without make up is the ideal, but I am not there yet. I've tried Jane Iredale make up but can't tell yet if it helps or hurts because I suspect it causes noninflamed acne. Now that I'm broken out again I can't use it because it's too light coverage.

2. Zinc is fantastic for quelling inflammation. Zinc has healed cystic breakouts for me in the past

3. Retin A micro is good for resurfacing the skin and combined with 4% hydroquine, is fantastic for PIH. However, I believe retin a makes my skin oily so my plan is to use it only for PIH and once that is gone/reduced switch to BHA and AHA.

4. My skin loves BHA - it's great for the noninflamed acne.

5. Moisturizer is important - gotta use it everyday, even when I'm tempted not to.

6. Saw palmetto cleared up my bacne by 99%. It helps control the oil on my face too, although that isn't always consistent.

That is what I've learned thus far. Now here is where I am at:

A couple of weeks ago my skin looked great. Just some PIH that was clearing up. Despite my skin looking great, I feel anxious and sad. Then I get my period and a few days later, I get a cyst on my right cheek. I freak out. Then I start breaking out on my left cheek. I get a zit on my back. I feel inflammation coursing through my body. I am anxious and depressed and miserable. I take the in-case-of-emergency antibiotics I have stashed. I make an appointment with my dermatologist to discuss going on accutane. I feel massive pressure to get clear in time for the romantic trip I have coming up with my boyfriend.

Then my boyfriend has to cancel the trip. Immediately, I feel relief and the inflammation starts to go down. So obviously, my stress over my relationship and being around my boyfriend for an extended period is a huge factor. And that pains me because he's a wonderful person and I do want to live with him someday.

Now I'm left with a face that is healing okay. I'm pretty sure the cyst on the right will need to be excised because I think it's an old cyst from a couple of years ago. Definitely do not want it to flare up again. Fortunately, I was able to get a dermatologist appointment for that next week.

I'm wondering if I should try low dose accutane or continue to explore hormonal balancing solutions.

Here's the thing - saw palmetto has done so much for my body acne - it's practically gone. But I am leery because there is no consensus as to whether it blocks estrogen or adds estrogen. So I believe that by messing with my estrogen levels, it's had an effect on my anxiety and depression and that partly explains my cystic flare up last month after my period started. Usually, after my period my skin is clear. So something is off balance so I'm exploring supplementing with vitex to balance the estrogen and progesterone. But I'm really worried about messing around with my hormones any further.

That said I am not willing to stop saw palmetto because of the amazing difference it had on my body acne.

My plan is to drink green tea instead of coffee, get more exercise, continue to juice as often as possible, and take fish oil. I also have a skin tea that contains chasteberry so I may drink that daily too. Also, just left a message with a woman's health doctor since I'm on a wait list for a naturopathic clinic until January.

I have to say, I feel better knowing that I am actively doing something. It feels good to have a plan. I'm proud of myself for reaching out for professional help. I'm lucky I have health insurance - I shouldn't feel bad about using it.

My period should start in 2 weeks so I'm going to keep babying my skin and hope for the best.


Wanted to add this:

I thought Saw Palmetto was depleting my estrogen, so a couple of months ago I started taking a Female Hormone Blend SP-7C by Solaray because I assumed it would replenish my estrogen and balance my hormones. It contains: Black cohosh, dong quai, passion flower, red raspberry, fenugreek, cramp bark, chamomile, saw palmetto, wild yam, butternut and kelp. Truthfully, I don't know that this does anything for estrogen - it was just an impulse buy on my part.

I only used it for one cycle, but I do feel that it helped my anxiety - I remember feeling giddy with happiness and thinking that it was strange for me to feel that way when I'm normally PMSing. But, I broke out in weird places I hardly ever break out on anymore - like the side of my nose and forehead. It reminded me of the acne I got as a teenager. Hmmmm, there must be another clue here. Anyway, that led me to thinking in addition to needing an anti-androgen (SP), I have a problem with estrogen dominance. But now that I'm reading up on the ingredients,it's not clear whether or not they have an effect on estrogen.

Really, the point is the hormone balancing issue is so complex and these supplements really are powerful. I'm only taking 1 pill (160 mg) of SP and it's had a profound effect on my body.

The good news is I made an appointment with a women's health doctor who accepts my insurance!! All the naturopaths around here are into crystal healing and kinesiology and charge $125 an hour and don't accept any insurance. That appointment doesn't happen for another couple of weeks but I'm relieved to have found a doctor to help me get through this. Maybe now I can stop obsessing and try to catch up on my life after being in a state of depression for the past few days.

Here's to having hope!

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I can totally relate to this post!! It's exactly the way I feel -- when I get a cyst or breakout, I get stressed, and then get more, and then start cancelling plans with my boyfriend because I don't want him to see me without makeup. Vicious cycle! I just started taking spironolactone, which helps balance hormones. Have you tried that? I'm on day 10 and seem to be doing well. Good luck!!!

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I can totally relate to this post!! It's exactly the way I feel -- when I get a cyst or breakout, I get stressed, and then get more, and then start cancelling plans with my boyfriend because I don't want him to see me without makeup. Vicious cycle! I just started taking spironolactone, which helps balance hormones. Have you tried that? I'm on day 10 and seem to be doing well. Good luck!!!

Thanks. I hope your boyfriend is understanding - mine is to an extent. He thinks my acne is due to wearing make up and I just need to stop wearing it. Sorry, but that's never gonna happen until I'm clear. Vicious cycle indeed. :( I have a daughter and I PRAY she does not go through this hell. I'm going to keep up on your spiro log. Good luck to you too!

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