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Hi I'm new to this forum, I'm 26 years old, female, and have moderate acne.

I've always pretty much had perfect skin all my life until a few months ago.

I developed an eating disorder (anorexia) around new year and this is when my skin started getting really bad. I would basically eat as little as possible (1000 cals a day or less) whilst being in full time work and very active. I wouldn't eat any fat or carbs. I exercised obsessively and was constantly stressed and tired. I lost 2 stone in weight over 3 or 4 months, I was underweight (5"8 and 8 and half stone). My period stopped and my skin got so bad, oily and covered in blackheads, whiteheads, cysts and enlarged pores, a first! I was so shocked my body could do this to me!!!

I'm trying to beat this disorder, have stopped exercising (I only walk) and eat more and a variety of food, trying to get back to normal.

I'm on doxycycline and dianette, only been 2 days and I've already noticed an improvement.

However I'm terrified I'll gain loads of weight! I don't mind a bit but don't want to get huge!!!

I guess what I'd like to ask is: is there an established link between anorexia and acne? Have you experienced it? Do you think it's more to do with the stress caused by not eating or the lack of food itself?

Many thanks

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Hell yes, there is a link. Before my ED, I never had a problem with acne. I used to be a purging anorexic for about 2 years. I've been recovered for 9 months smile.png

I'm really sorry that you're going through this. It's honestly one of the worst mental disorders. It's so detrimental to your life, and I'm glad you're ready to recover. <3 You're making a difficult but wonderful and important change in your life. I think stopping exercise was one of the hardest parts for me, so congrats on getting that far already!

When your period stops, your hormones are off-balance. Hormones can directly affect acne. My skin got progressively worse as my eating disorder got stronger, and once I lost my period, I broke out in horrible cystic acne. I saw a dermatologist and started to treat my skin. It didn't get noticeably better until I was fully recovered and was incorporating all foods into my diet and getting my regular period again, which didn't happen until about 4 months into my recovery. I was also vegan when I had my ED, which affected my skin from severe lack of nutrition. When I reverted to vegetarianism, my skin got a lot better, and I just recently started eating meat again, which I think is also helping. I also recently stopped seeing a dermatologist and started the Regimen while taking Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo.

I don't think it's your stress. It might exacerbate your acne, but it's the eating disorder that's really hurting your skin. It affects every part of your body. Although I've been ED-free for almost a year, I'm still struggling with acne. It gets better, although slowly, but keep in mind that full physical recovery from an ED is also very slow.

I know it's scary, and even if I tell you not to, you'll probably be anxious about weight gain. Just remember that it's all a part of recovery. I gained weight in really strange places actually, but never an extreme amount. As long as your work with your nutritionist, it all balances out. Now, my body is exactly the way it should be, and I love it, and I love my life without anorexia. Recovery has also made me a much stronger person than I was back then.

Sorry, kind of wrote a lot, but I'm really passionate about these sort of things haha. I really wish you the best. As you heal, your skin will, too. Trust me smile.png

Best of luck, and stay strong <3 If you have any questions about ED-related acne or recovery or anything, please feel free to PM me.

Edited by lizardanne

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Yes there is, and I realized it years after my struggles with food. I had anorexia on and off for about 10 years, and a 6-month period where I was bulimic, then in between all that I was a compulsive binge eater. I got my first acne outbreak the first time I recovered from anorexia, and I don't think that was a coincidence since I was very malnourished. I also messed up my digestive system, and the antibiotics I was constantly prescribed for acne only made things worse.

It might help you to go see a therapist and a nutritionist to help you get back on track. Avoid compulsive behavior, as you are already starting to do by reducing exercise, and try to do things that get your mind off of food like watching TV, going for walks, or shopping.

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A bit late, but yes me too. It all started after I developed an ED and my periods stopped coming.

Edited by il90

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Well I can say for me it was the opposite. I was never medically diagnosed with anorexia, but I was eating around 500 to 600 calories a day when I first started college. I lost a ton of weight and stayed obsessed with my weight for a long time, for me it was the one thing I could control since i always had acne since I was 13. Not being fat was the only thing I felt I had control over and helped me in some sick way feel a little bit better about my acne. I feel like my skin was at its worst during those couple of years. I don't know if it was the lack of eating and not getting any vitamins or healthy nutrients or my age as in my hormones or something, or a combination of both. At around 25 I would say I bounced back and forth between anorexia, binging and purging, and simply being a binge and compulsive eater. The only time I saw my skin clear was from accutane. I sometimes wonder if my lack of eating fatty meals during my three courses of accutane has something to do with accutane working wonders while on it, but not having staying power once I was off of it. I am on my fourth course of accutane and eating and weight will always be a battle, but I consider myself pretty darn healthy and something that will be hard, but am trying to eat healthy fatty foods during this course as I was so fearful of getting fat and over weight during my other courses when I was super thin. I am also going to take a gluten test next week as some people have sworn that being gluten free has done wonders for their skin. I can safely say everyones acne and skin is so different and responds so differently to medications and all the different treatments out there. I have family members that are extremely obese, but they have the most amazing poreless porcelain like skin and eat horrible food items. Hang in there and agree a therapist does help with the binge or compulsive eating.

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Well I can say for me it was the opposite. I was never medically diagnosed with anorexia, but I was eating around 500 to 600 calories a day when I first started college. I lost a ton of weight and stayed obsessed with my weight for a long time, for me it was the one thing I could control since i always had acne since I was 13. Not being fat was the only thing I felt I had control over and helped me in some sick way feel a little bit better about my acne. I feel like my skin was at its worst during those couple of years. I don't know if it was the lack of eating and not getting any vitamins or healthy nutrients or my age as in my hormones or something, or a combination of both. At around 25 I would say I bounced back and forth between anorexia, binging and purging, and simply being a binge and compulsive eater. The only time I saw my skin clear was from accutane. I sometimes wonder if my lack of eating fatty meals during my three courses of accutane has something to do with accutane working wonders while on it, but not having staying power once I was off of it. I am on my fourth course of accutane and eating and weight will always be a battle, but I consider myself pretty darn healthy and something that will be hard, but am trying to eat healthy fatty foods during this course as I was so fearful of getting fat and over weight during my other courses when I was super thin. I am also going to take a gluten test next week as some people have sworn that being gluten free has done wonders for their skin. I can safely say everyones acne and skin is so different and responds so differently to medications and all the different treatments out there. I have family members that are extremely obese, but they have the most amazing poreless porcelain like skin and eat horrible food items. Hang in there and agree a therapist does help with the binge or compulsive eating.

Hey, I was the same for 1.5 years after I started to get back to normal eating. If you compare normal people to me, my eating patterns would still be weird. But, I see to it that I get everything I need. That is, a TON of good fats, as in olive oil, coconut oil and raw butter (I pour it on everything I eat). Organic goat and sheep cheese (like halloumi, feta, etc). Remember that vitamins (A,D, K etc) needs fats. And you NEED these vitamins for acne prevention. TONS of veggies with every meal (I juice every morning or at least five days a week). I soak some beans that I eat throughout the week which is super cheap and then quinoa, sweet potatoes. Some fruits and berries. Sometimes wild caught fish. Sometimes chocolate. I haven't got up the nerv to eat anything "unhealthy" yet, but I'm working on it.

If I were you I would try to get back to good eating habits, it wrecked havoc on my skin. The stress it involves alone should cause cortisol spikes, just thinking about how hungry I usually was. Every night. 500 cals max for at least two years. I went up to 600-800 for the last year. I'm still not normal, but at least 1500-1800 daily with mild-moderate exercise for 30-50 min. My period didn't come back for months. If I start getting back to that it goes haywire again.

I did gain weight, but not like people noticed. I gained from 43 kg to about 50 kg, then I gained to 52-54 kg (I'm 5'3). This is a normal weight. People say they don't even notice.

I think we have to remember that for people like us, it is super important to eat, so that should be first priority. It was how it acne got so bad in the first place.

As for Accutane, I did it too but I didn't finish my course and after I started using differin once a week. How long after Accutane did it come back for you? It has been more than 6 months for me, or seven I think.

Edited by il90

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hi! i know it's late but i have a question to you all.

i'm underweight but i don't have an eating disorder. i was always really thin, maybe due to metabolism, i don't know. i eat normally but i weigh 103 lb (47 kg) with 168 cm height (5'6). i did everything to put on weight but somehow it doesn't work. i have periods (even though they've always been irregular) and i eat all kinds of food. can low weight still cause acne, when it's not related to an eating disorder?

also, good luck with your recovery. i have a friend who's struggling with anorexia and i know how difficult it can be.

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hi! i know it's late but i have a question to you all.

i'm underweight but i don't have an eating disorder. i was always really thin, maybe due to metabolism, i don't know. i eat normally but i weigh 103 lb (47 kg) with 168 cm height (5'6). i did everything to put on weight but somehow it doesn't work. i have periods (even though they've always been irregular) and i eat all kinds of food. can low weight still cause acne, when it's not related to an eating disorder?

also, good luck with your recovery. i have a friend who's struggling with anorexia and i know how difficult it can be.

I have no idea, but I think it is different considering we didn't get all we needed in our diets. But, you are. I wouldn't say that you aren't absorbing... Are you stressed at all? My dad is this way when he works too much, he just keeps loosing weight even though he eats so much. If that is it then working on that might be worthwhile. If not, try juicing veggies if you can afford it every morning (.5 - 1 L) for a couple of weeks and if you notice a difference then it might be you're not getting what you need. See:

Although, If you're not gaining weight, as underweight, you should see a doctor because that would qualify for something that needs to be examined.

Good luck, you'll figure it out, I promise.

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I feel like there is a link between anorexia and acne, but I have noticed that it varies greatly based on the person. I have a problem with anorexia on and off, but when I am going through an episode my acne actually clears up drastically. I have been dealing with my acne again for about a year and the only time it cleared up in that time was when I was starving. I don't know if it was just what I was eating or the fact that I took my vitamins then, but my skin was perfect until I started eating regular-ish again. Like you, I did lose my period and even after that I was still clear so I'm not so I feel like it's a very unpredictable disease when it comes to acne.

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hi! i know it's late but i have a question to you all.

i'm underweight but i don't have an eating disorder. i was always really thin, maybe due to metabolism, i don't know. i eat normally but i weigh 103 lb (47 kg) with 168 cm height (5'6). i did everything to put on weight but somehow it doesn't work. i have periods (even though they've always been irregular) and i eat all kinds of food. can low weight still cause acne, when it's not related to an eating disorder?

also, good luck with your recovery. i have a friend who's struggling with anorexia and i know how difficult it can be.

Same here :) i think i am about 175cm tall and weigh 53-54kgs so according to that bmi chart i am underweight. I think its just genetics cos some family members are tall and thin also. As long as you're eating enough calories and nutritious food i don't think its a problem to b a bit on the skinny side. I don't think it would cause acne either - i mean look at all those supermodels! If you were really thin and undereating though i can see how that might mess up your hormones and lead to acne.

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hi! i know it's late but i have a question to you all.

i'm underweight but i don't have an eating disorder. i was always really thin, maybe due to metabolism, i don't know. i eat normally but i weigh 103 lb (47 kg) with 168 cm height (5'6). i did everything to put on weight but somehow it doesn't work. i have periods (even though they've always been irregular) and i eat all kinds of food. can low weight still cause acne, when it's not related to an eating disorder?

also, good luck with your recovery. i have a friend who's struggling with anorexia and i know how difficult it can be.

I have no idea, but I think it is different considering we didn't get all we needed in our diets. But, you are. I wouldn't say that you aren't absorbing... Are you stressed at all? My dad is this way when he works too much, he just keeps loosing weight even though he eats so much. If that is it then working on that might be worthwhile. If not, try juicing veggies if you can afford it every morning (.5 - 1 L) for a couple of weeks and if you notice a difference then it might be you're not getting what you need. See:

Although, If you're not gaining weight, as underweight, you should see a doctor because that would qualify for something that needs to be examined.

Good luck, you'll figure it out, I promise.

Thanks! I don't think it's related to stress though. I've been like this since puberty started (as a child I was more plumpy but also way shorter). Of course, there were periods when I was gaining more weight (christmas holidays, eating a lot etc) but I've never gone past 50 kg.

I've been to the doctor many times because my mother was freaking out because of my weight (even though she is also incredibly skinny) and all the tests came out perfectly normal (blood, glucose, urine etc.) I have regular blood tests now because I'm on Accutane so I have it all under control.

The only thing that is not normal is that I'm kind of infertile, and my gyn says that it can be related to my weight or it can just be due to my age (I'm seventeen) and it might change in time. I mean, I have periods every month but they are irregular and my cycles are mostly over 35 days long and anovulatory (and I don't have PCOS). It's not like I'm planning on getting pregnant or anything so I don't care, but if it's because of my weight then maybe it has also affected hormones and caused acne. It's unlikely, because my acne doesn't look hormonal - it's never located on my jawline, only the T-zone and upper cheeks, and I don't have any deep, painful pimples. Also, it responds perfectly well to Accutane, which usually does nothing for hormonal acne. So I don't know.

hi! i know it's late but i have a question to you all.

i'm underweight but i don't have an eating disorder. i was always really thin, maybe due to metabolism, i don't know. i eat normally but i weigh 103 lb (47 kg) with 168 cm height (5'6). i did everything to put on weight but somehow it doesn't work. i have periods (even though they've always been irregular) and i eat all kinds of food. can low weight still cause acne, when it's not related to an eating disorder?

also, good luck with your recovery. i have a friend who's struggling with anorexia and i know how difficult it can be.

Same here :) i think i am about 175cm tall and weigh 53-54kgs so according to that bmi chart i am underweight. I think its just genetics cos some family members are tall and thin also. As long as you're eating enough calories and nutritious food i don't think its a problem to b a bit on the skinny side. I don't think it would cause acne either - i mean look at all those supermodels! If you were really thin and undereating though i can see how that might mess up your hormones and lead to acne.

It's definetely genetics. My mother is also 175cm and during her youth she weight like 52-53 kgs, never more. It changed slightly after pregnancy but she's still considered very thin for her age.

You're right. I was just wondering if it can anyhow affect acne. Also, supermodels are not a very good example - my bf is a photpgrapher and he spends hours correcting models' skin in photoshop. Most of them have acne (though not very serious), due to stress, thick make up and sometimes undereating. Nobody is perfect, even though the media really want to make us think so. :))

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