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The Old Man

What seems to be working for me

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Recently, I've had some mild success in clearing my acne and thought I'd post about what I'm doing in the hopes that it will help others.

First, some background though. I'm a white male age 40 currently living in the eastern part of North Carolina but have lived in NJ, GA, and PA at various points in my life. We have mild winters and hot hot summers here. Everything is continually humid as all get out. I've had mild to moderate persistent acne since I was a teenager. I have had periods in my life when my skin was perfectly clear but the acne always came back. My diet is better than average and I normally have 1-3 servings of vegetables, 1-3 servings of fruit, and have whole wheat whenever the option presents itself. I don't avoid any foods, however, and will have pizza, chocolate, dairy, eggs, peanuts, gluten, etc. as available. I work as a project manager for software development companies and have worked as a software developer prior to that. I don't play any sports, so I don't get much natural light exposure on a daily basis. I'm 5' 9" and overweight at ~210 lbs. I have been this weight for decades. I have oily, sensitive skin.

My acne has traditionally been on my chest, shoulders, back, and to a lesser degree along my jawline. I apologize for not having before and after pictures. If I were to judge, I'd say my acne went from about 4 to 2 on a scale of 1 - 10. My skin is clearer and feels smoother and softer. Previously, if I ran my hand over my shoulder I could feel lots of tiny bumps now it feels like smooth, good quality leather. I still get new acne but it is now much reduced in size, redness, and duration. I am currently in week 3 of this approach. I've heard that human skin takes about 3 weeks to heal itself so I should be reaching a steady state at this point.

When I started doing the steps below, I noticed a change in my skin within days. So did my wife. In fact, on about day 3 she said, "What are you doing? Your skin looks a lot better."

Here's what I did:

  • Stopped using all skin products - no moisturizer, acne medication, nada. I wasn't using many products originally but would experiment from time to time. This time I made sure to refrain from anything else.
  • Switched soap to Cetaphil Sensitive Skin Cleansing Bar for Dry, Sensitive Skin - I was previously using Irish Spring Deodorant soap. Any of the soaps mentioned on should work though.
  • Use only hands to apply soap - I was using a washcloth previously and it may have been irritating my skin. Reaching between my shoulder blades is a challenge which I'm failing at currently. I need to figure out a solution for that.
  • Started going for a 20 minute (minimum) walk the first thing in the morning without sun glasses, hat, or sunscreen - The idea here is to get exposure to sunlight for Vitamin D and to stimulate my eyes with natural light to help regulate my melatonin production. Also, the exercise doesn't hurt and I've started losing some weight. Btw, I think it's important to do this the first thing in the morning. It does all sorts of good things for your body. Keeps your melatonin cycle in sync, ramps up your metabolism early in the day, gets the recommended minimum amount of daily exercise to maintain muscle mass, promotes weight loss and cardiovascular fitness, the sunlight exposure and exercise helps ward off depression, etc.
  • Started taking fibre supplements - Ideally this should be 75% insoluble/ 25% soluble ratio but the vast majority of fibre supplements out there are 100% soluble so that's what I started taking. Fyi, insoluble fibre helps you poop and soluble fibre lowers your cholesterol and helps you lose weight. If you decide to start taking fibre, I would recommend ramping up slowly. I tried going full blast right away and let's just say I encountered some discomfort. So I pulled back on my fibre intake and slowly ramped it back up over a period of 2 weeks. I'm now taking the same amount as when I started but with no digestive problems.
  • Started drinking 3-4 more glasses of water per day - This was to meet the hydration needs of the fibre (soluble fibre needs lots of water to work) but I think it may have an effect on my skin as well.
  • Started taking a daily multivitamin - I had some Centrum multivitamins lying around so I started taking those. It's got 100% recommended daily allowance of zinc which may have been a contributing factor.
  • Try to get a minimum of 8 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep - This means a minimum of 8 hours of actual unconsciousness in a completely dark room i.e. no lights of any kind including glowing clock faces. Note to self: Reading a book in bed for an hour does not count as sleep.
  • Try to wash twice daily - I got the best results when I did a full shower in the morning and a brief rinse at night. I normally only shower in the morning due to time constraints but made an effort to at least rinse off at night. My skin showed marked improvement when I was able to keep up this routine but alas, the real world conspired to pull me away onto other things so I couldn't keep it up.

So, to make a long list short: take multivitamin and fibre supplements, go for a walk outside in the morning, drink more water, get a good nights rest, use a good soap, and wash twice daily when you can.

For me, these things all fall under the "just live a healthier life" category. Now, I know that some of you have much more difficult acne than I do and I don't mean to say that I have the cure or even know much about what I'm talking about here but I'm hoping that by sharing my experiences that you may be able to benefit somewhat from what I've tried.

Btw, imho I think that the steps above should be a foundation for any acne regimen. Before you try benzoyl peroxide, accutane, dermify, or any other specialized acne treatment, I would suggest first making sure you're doing the steps above to the best of your ability and circumstance. They have such wide reaching benefits that it may improve other areas of your life as well.

Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now. Thank you for reading and any feedback is welcome.

The Old Man

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Interesting and well organized post. This is the second mention on the boards I've seen recently about daylight and pineal melatonin regulation, the most prominent being databased's of course.

I think they make soap bar holders so you can use the bar to basically scrub your back where you can't reach.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that products on your face should be used minimally and in the lowest concentrations possible. Ideally, none should be used at all.

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I just got back from 2 weeks in NC, 1 in the outer banks and 1 in Raleigh, and my face completely healed up, so I agree that sun exposure is important.

I do a lot of those things you mention (i.e. fiber supplements and multivitamin) but they don't seem to do anything for my acne. Not using anything on my face, water, good sleep, and rinsing my face off 3 times a day have work wonders for me, though.

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