Cure, not a quick fix.
First, I need to make a disclaimer. Like Isotretinoin, mega-dosing Vitamin A has its risks. This is a form of treatment that is available OTC, but you MUST do your research. You will find mixed reviews regarding the safety of a Vitamin A regimen for acne; this is why it is up to each individual to do their own research in order to make an INFORMED decision for themselves. This is an account of MY personal experience and I will try to include as much information as I can.
I chose the holistic route for myself, and decided on Vitamin A (derived from fish liver oil) as opposed to its synthetic version (Isotretinoin). I am a female, age 22, and I chose this method of treatment for a high concentration of nodulistic acne on my back, mild acne on my chest, and mild acne on my face. If you are considering a Vitamin A regimen for yourself, it is up to you (or a specialist) to determine your specific course of treatment and whether or not you need to take additional supplements.
MY plan was as follows:
50,000 IUs/day for two weeks
100,000 IUs/day for six weeks
150,000 IUs/day for four weeks
I supplemented the Vitamin A with 3,000 IUs of Vitamin D3/day. I washed my face/body twice a day with organic, scent-free ivory soap and moisturized with organic coconut oil.
In my situation, this was enough to cure my acne. It has been two weeks since I finished mega-dosing Vitamin A, and I have been acne-free for three weeks. I get the occasional pimple (whitehead) but this is NOTHING compared to what I was dealing with before. I plan to begin taking 8,000 IUs of Vitamin A/day (the recommended dosage) and continuing to do this for the next year or so to support my clear skin.
I stand firm in giving this form of treatment 5 stars, because it has been the solution to a lot of emotional (and physical) pain caused by my acne for upwards of five years. However, it was NOT without side effects.
One thing you can expect with Vitamin A is skin purging. In order for your skin to restore itself, it must release the accumulated impurities. For each of the three months that I was mega-dosing, I would have one skin purge. This consisted of a larger-than-normal, painful breakout. For the first time in my life, I experienced (albeit a small amount of) cystic acne. The concentration of acne on each effected part of my body increased quite a bit. This DID result in scarring. Picking/popping increased the amount of scarring.
Another thing to expect is very dry skin, lips, and occasionally eyes. Fortunately, there are remedies for these side effects. Coconut oil worked quite well on my skin; I chose organic-- in light of the fact that my skin was restoring itself to a pure state, I wanted to keep it paraben and toxin free. I used chapstick during the day (EOS) and at night, to prevent cracking of my lips (it happened around the corners, which was painful), I would slather them with Vaseline. This, too, worked quite well.
There are a large array of side effects one may experience, so AGAIN, research is absolutely necessary. My side effects were predominantly limited to those listed above.
After my final episode of skin purging, my skin began to clear rapidly. Within one week, I was left with only scars and the occasional pimple. I am ever so grateful, and will now be focusing on an organic skin-bleaching method to lighten the scarring. I do not feel right RECOMMENDING this course of treatment because that is a choice that must be made objectively by each individual for his/herself. However, I would encourage any acne sufferer to look into a Vitamin A regimen, especially if you are looking for a CURE as opposed to a quick fix.