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battling acne for years - investigating causes and effects

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Hi all - I'm new to posting, but I have been finding many helpful threads on here! I figured the time was right to tell you my story and ask a few of my questions along the way, and see if anybody has anything to say that might be of help.

This is going to be a bit of a saga, but any thoughts/ideas/replies would be hugely appreciated!

I never used to have much of an acne problem. As a teenager, I had very minor, occasional, typically teenagery pimples. Never the cause of much concern, they sort of came and went.

Fast forward to college, the summer before junior year. I had a few of these teenagery breakouts left, and at a routine dermotologist appointment, the doctor suggested I use Retin-A - just to clear up the little that I had for good.

To me, this sounded great! I could have 100% clear skin and that would be the end of it.

So I thought. I started the Retin-A then, in August 2006, and went back to college with it. My skin completely changed - it got red, irritated, shiny, dry, flaky and peely. It didn't look good and it didn't feel good. The minor acne I did have didn't improve at all - I broke out WAY WORSE than I ever had, and it just looked terrible. After several weeks I stopped the treatment because I didn't see any point in continuing it. My skin hadn't even been bad in the first place.

After stopping, my skin did improve. The shinyness, the flaking, peeling and redness went away. I did have some remaining acne, but it looked significantly better.

Then, about three months later, in December 2006, I had a major breakout. It was finals week - I was barely sleeping, eating 100% junk, and I was under a lot of academic/relationship stress. I contributed it to all of this, and figured it would clear up once I got home and had some healthy food and got some decent sleep.

But it didn't. I developed huge red bumps all over my face, and it was just bad acne - worse than I had ever had it.

It never quite went away after this, and I've had acne ever since.

It stayed bad for a while, through the next few months, and ever since it has just been THERE. Eventually it became less bumpy and my forehead cleared, but it remained on my cheeks and chin, where it still is today.

I still had it senior year, when I was about to graduate. I figured once I got home, after a few months of my mom's organic, healthy cooking, back to a regular sleep schedule, etc. my body would detox and clear out and I'd be back to normal. I could visit my natural doctor again and take my supplements - basically have a chance to be good to my body again.

Well, since graduating in May of 2008, I have been good - eating well, (no tobacco or caffeine, only occasional alcohol, even in college), exercising, taking supplements, cleansing the liver, doing detoxes, etc. and I STILL have the acne.

At this point, in 2010, I have really had enough. I'm 23 now and it's embarrassing. So I have been doing constant research to try to figure this out once and for all. Fortunately, I can report that it is not nearly as bad as it used to be in college, which is a comfort. It HAS improved somehow. I am still battling with acne in the same places - cheeks and chin - but it seems to be a different type. There aren't any bumps anymore (thankfully), and barely any whiteheads, but my cheeks and chin are covered in flat RED marks - and it gets pretty red and irritated looking. Almost like a rash, or just some kind of general irritation. It doesn't even look like typical acne to me anymore, so it's perplexing.

So, in terms of new information: This past summer I did a saliva test and found out that I have a mild gluten intolerance. So for the past few months I have been (about 98%) gluten-free, and my skin may have improved somewhat. It's a little fainter if anything, but it's not just disappearing. But I was thinking - what was I eating all through college? Bread. Pasta. Cereal. Crackers. Cookies. Bagels. Waffles. It goes on and on. I think there was a DEFINITE gluten overload during this entire time I've had acne, save for the last few months. I have read that there is a connection between the two, so perhaps this has contributed. So far, just removing gluten from my diet hasn't cleared my skin. But I don't know how long you need to be gluten-free for there to be a difference in acne - does anybody know?

So I am avoiding gluten in food. But the other gluten situation that I am questioning is this: I work in a pizzeria. About 5 days a week. I've been at this job for 5 years (one weekend day a week in college), but since being home after graduation in 2008, I have been on this regular schedule. I am SURROUNDED by airborne high-gluten flour constantly - and I am always handling raw dough and pizza. Is there a possibility that even though my diet is gluten-free, I am still getting "glutened" through inhalation? What about my face being directly exposed to flour? Because it definitely is! I had never thought of this until recently, so it's a theory I'm asking around about.....any input on that would be much appreciated! My intolerance is mild, so I don't know if that's enough to make a difference, but who knows. I might be doing okay diet-wise, but perhaps my efforts are being sabotaged....

Then I made another surprising discovery. I began investigating gluten in cosmetics, and started to research the ingredients in my makeup (Bare Minerals), and discovered that the MAIN INGREDIENT is the infamous bismuth oxychloride - which has been proven to cause acne and skin irritation! In addition to this, there are parabens in the mineral veil, and I've found there's also a connection to skin irritation from that. I have been using Bare Minerals since early 2008. Is it possible....that any sort of progress I could be making with clearing my skin could have been counteracted by me putting this on my face 6 or 7 times a week for the past two years!? Does anybody have any sort of skin irritation stories as a direct result from using cosmetics with these ingredients? I just purchased a new set of cosmetics that DO NOT use these or any other skin irritants, and I am throwing the Bare Minerals out! I can't take the chance!

So currently, I have been gluten-free for a few months, and I have been using the oil cleansing method for about a week, and so far the results have been great. My skin is moisturized and sometimes I swear the acne looks fainter - but I want it gone! Completely gone! Having anything there is so troubling for me, even if it's flat now - it's red and irritated-looking and it's just not attractive. I've come a long way from where I was in college, but I need to take it all the way. I just need to figure out the last few pieces of this clear skin puzzle....and I need your help!

(Just as a side note - I am not interested in putting any chemicals on my face - I work with natural remedies only, internal and topical!)

I am particularly interested in hearing about anybody's experiences with acne as a result of Retin-A, gluten intolerance, and bismuth oxychloride and parabens, because all of this has been on my mind constantly. I want and need to figure this out, and I'd love to know if anybody has had problems because of these. Or if anyone reads this and has anything to say - an idea, a suggestion, a question, a realization, whatever - I would be happy to hear it! If anything strikes you that I clearly haven't included or thought of, I'd love to hear about it! I'm so tired of all of this and I figured now was the time to approach this forum, where people have a habit of posting very helpful and knowledgeable replies. :)

Thank you so much - I appreciate any response!


Edited by gibbler
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It's not an ideal place to work but I think you'll be fine. I used to work at McDonalds and there was shit flying through the air that you wouldn't believe, but I stayed completely clear for the 6 month duration because my diet was under control.

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If you are doing a gluten free diet you might just take a couple of steps further and do a paleo diet. Is based on what humans were evolved to eat. Do a quick google search to learn more.

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I too once worked in a pizza restaurant and was surrounded by airborne gluten every day.

I won't blame my skin health back then on the airborne gluten, because my diet then wasn't what it is now. (I on occasion ATE some of those gluten filled pizzas!)

However, now that I no longer work there, combined with a stricter diet (Paleo type) I have seen dramatic benefits in the appearance of my skin.

If you are highly gluten intolerant I'd imagine it could keep affecting you, if not you'll probably be fine with dietary adjustments.


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AHHH, it was over so you thought.

now you are asking the question what is the cause of acne??

Thats a noble effort, but perhaps what are the causes of all human health??

My answer is absorption, excretion.

Nothing in this universe ever disappears it just changes form, water to ice to gas to water again, over and over again. fire to ash to earth to tree and to fire again or earth.

You are like an engine consuming things turning it into energy, then converting it into waste again. Like an engine you burn fuel and turn it into exaust. So you think it was all the cakes donuts and "gluten"??

What else do these things have in common?? manipulated natural foods that omit fiber content.

all of ours cells in our entire body needs to recieve nutrition, this happens via lymph fluid, or interstitial fluid. its the bloods, blood. or rather in between every blood cell. And it is moved around via daily exercise. but not only does this fuild deliver nutrition, but it also removes the cells waste products, remember nothing ever disappears in the universe, only changes. But this waste is toxic, so it must be shulltled back to the liver to be excreted right along with the next meal you eat in the bile acids created by the liver, but it is waiting for some very important component to leave this body and that conponent is fiber. if not for fiber, the toxins that are released with the biles acids will have nothing to latch on to, and it will be reabsorbed into the system, only to go through the entire process over again. Over time, these waste products build up and do bad effects to the entire body. Exactly where? just take your pick, the weakest link.

this is one small concept to understanding the precise mechanics of the human body, rather then asking a question like what is the cause of acne, what is are the causes of all human health?? this was part of the answer i found out and slowly peiced together some coherent logical system that makes sense based on some of the latest scientific research, thats takes into account the specifics, that todays science attempts, but does not want to assemble a coherent theory that puts it all together,as they would not want to assume too much and instead trys to create drugs to maniuplate a specific part of the body instead of seeing how it is all connected.

the answer i now am starting to believe is that whole natural grains are human food, due to the specific actions of fiber and on their effects on regularity. ALso some of the effects fiber has on lengthening intestinal villi, and although i have not totally proven this to myself, by my extensive notes have implied that whole grains are responsible for regularity more then that of vegetables, which i have previously believed.

Also to address the gut flora in all this fiber issues, fiber feeds good bacteria, even the fiber in grains, as well as vegetables and fruits. But also to increase intestinal transit time is to lessn the opportunity for pathogenis organisms to inhabit the gut, and have a feast. The short intestinal transit time will encourage the sweeping away of the bacteria less able to adhere to the intestinal wall of the human gut, and this environment may begin to favor only those most suited, the ever sought after probiotic.

From the philosophy of sciences insistence on breaking things down to the smallest parts alone for a direct cause, may not have entirely failed, may these small insights we have into the actions of fiber in their relation the the very structure and order of the human machine, can possibly reveal a common theme to come to general conclusions about what it is we are to be eating, to the greatest precision yet known to prior humans.

Before even addressing any specific disorder such as acne, first ask if your body is succesfully doing something so very basic as it should be doing, like ease and frequency of defacation as a first gauge of total health.

I guess i have questioned the very assumption by which modern biological scince is done today, by making conclusion based on analogical arguments, and basic inferences. The analogy of seeing the body as one single cellular organism, and looking at it from the most general instead of the most specific. Yet never discrediting any effort to witness the most precise events in the human body. We have taken an extensive amount of effort to define disease, i do believe its time we put the same amount of effort to define health, and its precise causes, i guess we are with vitamins and such, but im not sure if i have a valid point here but it seems i do, kinda.

I have in no way fully applied this system or perfected it or proven it to work for anything, i actually bought into the stay away from grains myth for along time, only to experiance declining health. there are alot of myths on this site, i would advise you to evaluate each one of them critically, as i havent.

Edited by AutonomousOne1980
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