I set up an account in the hope that some of my experiences might help other people who are suffering from acne.
My journey with acne began when I was 14, and still at secondary school in the UK. To categorise my acne would be to say I suffered from comedonal acne, but mostly deep, painful, cystic acne. The acne effected my back, face, top of my arms, buttocks, and neck.
In brief, the medications that I have been through which unfortunately did not help my acne (however, that is not to say they might not work for other people with different forms of acne) are:
Topical Salicylic Acid (7%)
AND finally.... the drug which everyone is raving about these days: Accutane (aka: Roaccutane).
Results with Antibiotics
So.. probably the best results for my grade 5 cystic acne was seen with Oxytetracycline which I took orally at high doses for roughly 6 months, before taking Minocycline for another 6 months. Unfortunately, and as with all oral antibiotics like Oxytetracycline (Minocycline, and other -cycline variations) is that eventually, whether now or later, your body will build immunity to their effects, rendering them ineffective. However thats not to say they are ineffective at killing the Acne vulgaris bacteria in the first instance.
What I found - although the antibiotics worked for a time (although I never saw complete acne free skin throughout the course), they were treating the side effects of a much deeper root problem!
Differin Gel / Topical Salicylic Acid, AHA's and BHA's
Probably the worst results of all were identified with all topical applications. I had severe reactions to Benzol Peroxide which I actually built up to about 10% after 6 months. Differin had absolutely NO EFFECT on my acne whatsoever. My doctor did say however that it would take up to 4 months to note the effects which unfortunately I never saw after 6 months of applying it twice daily morning and night.
OK. So, moving onto the slightly controversial drug Accutane. Please be aware that here in the UK, the NHS will only subsidise treatment with this drug when all other routes of treatment have been exhausted (which they had!). This is because its quite expensive for the NHS... so, I guess if you are put on Accutane here in the UK, you must have acne pretty bad!
What I observed - yes, all the usual reported side effects - slightly down sometimes, very dry, delicate skin that literally scratched away if I dried with a towel. But honestly at this stage I did not CARE one bit. I needed a cure. And to all intents and purposes, Accutane DID cure my skin of acne for approximately 4 months.
THEN.. I relapsed. My acne did return but it wasnt as severe as before. I was quite upset when this happened.
What I asked myself again and again - was this harsh, dangerous drug really treating the cause of my acne?
I started to research causes of Acne upon my relapse very carefully. Firstly what I noticed about myself were the following:
1) I was getting no sunlight on my skin during winter.
2) My diet was high in Omega 6
3) My hormones were still all over the place like I had just hit puberty or something...
For points 1 and 2 the solution was easily addressed - I began implementing the following changes by taking Cod Liver Oil tablets once a day, and 1000mg Vitamin D twice a day.
Results of Vitamin D and Fish Oil
So I started taking these supplements and have been on them both for about 6 months now. Before taking the fish oil, i took 2000mg of vitamin D for about 4 months. The BIGGEST changes came about with the vitamin D. I saw enormous improvements to both the number of lesions on my skin and the size of the pimples. I also noticed:
a) Much faster healing times once the contents of the pimple was expelled
b) Less painful!!! Overall, my pimples were not as sore. Particularly on my back.
c) My skin was less oily. I understand that this is because the skin's precursor to form vitamin D naturally exists as an oil on the surface of the skin.
d) Oxidised whiteheads - I found the vitamin D was drying up my skin overall (not in a bad way). Whiteheads were turning to blackheads, and the blackheads were being expelled from the skin instead of staying inside the pore for ages.
Fish oil I didnt see MUCH further improvements, although I did notice my skin was more supple - possibly due to the Omega 3.
So... I had targeted my sunlight deficiency. I had reached a healthier ratio of Omega 3 and 6. The final, and only contributing factor which still had to be addressed was my hormones - particularly - androgens.
This is how, I believe, WITH Vitamin D and Fish Oil, how I finally saw the end to my acne. I'm afraid the solution is not well documented, its not even proven and there are hardly any scientific studies about it.
Liquorice / Licorice
Yep!! It was when I introduced this to my diet that I saw dramatic changes in my skin and acne.
Just a little background information for those that are not aware - the active ingredient in Root Liquorice is Glycyrrhizin. I found this study online: http://medherb.com/Materia_Medica/Glycyrrhiza_-_Licorice_root_and_testosterone.htm which documents its effects on the levels of testosterone in men.
The report, and other research, continued to suggest that this compound might help me reduce my levels of androgens. I have drank licorice tea (I empty the contents of the tea back and swallow the root aswell) twice a day for 2 months now.
Observations of Liquorice (I spell it the English way!)
a) Stable moods!! I used to have quite a moody personality, very hormonal, and a sex drive my partner couldn't placate! I'm now much more settled in myself, and generally a happier person.
b) I saw a dramatic change to my skin. It was like someone had flipped a switch, and whatever was causing the acne had been turned off (my suspect was high level of androgens - although I did NOT take a blood test to confirm this)
c) Less oily skin. So I saw the same effects with Vitamin D, and yet more effects with the Liquorice. Since high levels of androgens are responsible for excess oily skin, I can only guess that the Liquorice had reduced my androgen levels to a normal level
Try taking Liquorice Tea twice a day (and also drink the contents of the tea bag). Its not as gross as it sounds! Actually, its quite nice to chew.
Also be aware that Liquorice is still used in China as a routine cure for Herpes due to its anti-inflammatory and anti viral properties. So generally, its good overall for your health as long as it isnt taken in excess (may cause high blood pressure).
Many thanks for reading my blog, I hope you'll all have a go and hopefully see the same results that I did