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A Desperate Plea For Help My Son Has Severe Acne

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Hi Everyone,

I am stumbled across this forum in my desperate search for help with severe acne.

My 15yo son has been suffering from acne for the past 2 years & I am worried that if we don't get on top of it soon that he might have it way longer than both of us are expecting, especially after reading many posts here from people who have been battling this for many years [my heart goes out to you guys.. it just seems so unfair]

Please bare with my detailed post.. i am hoping with enough information that i might be guided in the right direction.


His Treatment History in brief:

April 2012 - Moderate acne on sides of face - Dr prescribed Doxylin 50 & suggested we try Proactive

November 2012 - Gradual increase in acne - now Moderate/severe - tried a different combination of the antibiotic and topical prescription creams [Clindatech & epiduo] gradually becomes worse

June 2013 - Dermatologist prescribes Roaccutain - 5 weeks into treatment and we are seeing massive improvement in skin but side affects meant we needed to back off treatment - week 7 - stopped treatment totally [he refuses to ever take it again] started messing with his head and was more prone to soft tissue injuries, that were not healing as fast as normal.[sport injuries]

August 2013 - January 2014 - No medication - only using supermarket cleanser/cream [Clearasil/ Neutrogena etc.] gradually worsens again..

January 2014 - Severer - Dr prescribes Akanim 50 and Stieva–a cream 0.01% starts using Proactive again in the mornings.. his face continues to become inflamed and very red & sore.

February 2014 - He is now depressed and acne worse than ever

Thought it was also worth mentioning:

Acne is ONLY on his face [body is clear] and is concentrated on his cheeks and sides of jaw line [left side being worse than right]

He has always squeezed his pimples if they have a white head at the surface but is very aware of the importance of clean hands before doing so.
Lifestyle: He is extremely athletic and health conscious, he plays sport at a representative level and is governed by ASADA rules. [so needs to be careful & aware of any substance he is taking]
Exercise Is His LIFE: Trains 6 days a week - high intensive routines [ranging from 1 - 4hrs a day] this includes, cardio, strength & weight training.. i have heard this can increase testosterone levels that can then increase acne.. is this correct?
Sweats a lot during these workouts and the gym & training field are not the cleanest of environments
Diet: He drinks 7liters [1.8 Gallon] of water a day and a protein shake with 800ml of milk [no other liquids]
Eats very clean… lots of protein/veg/salad/eggs/nuts, 3 serves of fruit, and a tub of yogurt. Although he does eat Lebanese bread and tortilla wraps on a daily basis to help "fill" him up… but after reading a few posts on here i am thinking i should try to remove all grains from his diet .. any thoughts??
NEVER eats takeaway or sweets
I am worried that the intense exercise is making his acne worse but he is not willing to give up any of his training and does not want to continue taking antibiotics and using topical creams that just seem to make his acne worse.
My heart bleeds for him as i can see the physical and mental pain he is going through right now. His cheeks often bleed when he touches them & they have a purple bruised look about them.
He has never been a kid who cares what other people think and no one would be game to say anything to him!.. but he is starting to withdraw from social situations and is not wanting to go to school some days.
If you have read this far, I thank you…i know it is a long post
What can we do?
I am a worried mum and just want to do whats best for him.. HELP!


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Thanks for your reply.

Ok, what would be the best Milk substitute?

He is really dry.. he uses the moisturiser very sparingly as he think it makes them more red & noticeable.

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Hi proud momma,

I was looking at the site because I am a loyal user and follower of the regimen and the site. I am a mom in my forties and started struggling with acne around forty when my hormones went haywire! I had never broken out before that to any extent, even as a teen.

I was very, very close to seeing a dermatologist for my acne, when as a last ditch, i ordered the regimen.

I had used Clinique's system and also tried proactive(in my opinion proactive is awful).

I spent a lot of time googling acne and kept seeing this site but it took me forever to click on it! (I just thought it was some sort of scam or something)

I was engrossed from the minute I finally checked it out. I ordered the products in the fall of 2011 and have been clear since!!

I followed dans guidelines mostly....

I tend to wash a bit longer.. And I was hesitant about the moisturizer of course.. But I promise you it really works!

My heart goes out to your son truly.

I have never ever posted anything here other than reviewing the products...

Your post just grabbed me.

If I'm not mistaken, there is an offer right at the top of the home page for a Free! starter kit... I really encourage you to have him try it. (My son uses these products as well)

I will agree with anyone telling you to have him cut out the dairy... And quite honestly maybe the protein powder?? It may be affecting his skin too..

The jawline and cheek acne is a clear indicator of a hormonal imbalance going on...testosterone excess.

I hope this helps even a little bit..

I will say be very cautious with some of the advice given here... Like the home-remedies... Just go with Dans products, and practice good hygiene... Clean towels, clean pillow case...good diet habits.

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I wouldn't know best, a lot of the people on this forum know good substitutes. I do not consume any type of dairy/milk. I can say almond milk and that's about it. Unsweetened of course. Milk is one of the worst things for acne

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I would try Dans regimen as soon as possible. Since the Accutane did not work for your son, I think that's your best bet. Follow the instructions carefully and hopefully that will help him. Substitute almond milk for regular milk. And stop protein shakes or supplements of any kind. I believe soy protein is very bad for acne. And supplements could also be making things worse. Good luck!

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I feel so horribly for your son. Honestly, I went through the same thing quite recently, and I want to thank you for being so supportive towards him. He's so lucky to have a caring mother like you. Acne can be so scarring both physically and emotionally, but for now, his skin doesn't look too great as you said. I used to have a lot of acne, and I'd feel like everyone was staring at my acne and judging me even when they weren't, so I decided to do something about it. I just removed all dairy from my diet (so maybe try omitting the protein shake for a couple days, and see if it improves). If he still feels like he needs to have dairy/protein shake, then maybe try Lactaid or Almond milk or something like that. Dan's regimen was also great. It worked out great for me, but around that time of the month, my hormones went all crazy and I had massive breakouts, it just wasn't working out for me, so I stopped doing it, but ASK YOUR SON TO TRY THAT OUT. So many people have had GREAT results with it!

Also, what has been my saving grace has been ACV. I consume a TBSP everyday with water and sure, it tastes bad, and smells even worse, but it was SO worth it! I went from being so socially conscious, to not worrying about anything at all. My skin/face look great now.

So I'd say, try removing dairy, try the Regimen and if that doesn't work, try ACV.

EDIT: Also, tell him to try washing his face every time after he exercises unless he exercises multiple times a day. He should be washing his face no less than 2 times a day.

If NOTHING I've said works, try Accutane. Many side effects, but many results also.

Best of luck!


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First of all, you sound like a fantastic mother and I really commend your dedication to helping your son. Some parents don't understand the physical and emotional harm acne causes.

I agree with the above posts to try substituting milk for almond milk and cutting out soy protein shakes and supplements. Both are known acne triggers.

I don't know much about The Regimen, but it has been helpful to many. For me, fermented cod liver oil, an AHA cream and green tea have been godsends for my skin. Unfortunately so much of it comes down to trial and error.

I say start with limiting soy and milk and look into Dan's regime. I really wish we could give you some definite cures, but it is such an individual struggle. Please keep us updated on his progress!

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Thank you so much for your kind words.. not sure that i am a fantastic mum but i am sure i have fantastic boys!

I am going to organise the Regimen for him and get him off the milk… may have a little trouble taking the protein shake though [will research the one he is using]

I have green tea here so will start that and i have just ordered zinc50mg & omega 3

thanks again

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If you go back to April 2012, he only had moderate acne right? Maybe using all these treatments has really played with his skin which is why his acne is severe right now. For now I think getting him on the regimen is your best bet, but once (and hopefully) when he's clear from the regimen try switching to natural stuff like honey and jojoba oil for the face, these have really good antioxidant properties and are also gentle to the skin. Also as said above cut out dairy, but he should closely analyse his diet and see if he gets acne from any specific foods like gluten, wheat, sugar etc.

On another note, props to him for not letting go of training.. don't ever let acne get in the way of your life!

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I wanted to add that I'm a mom to two teenage boys so I completely understand what you're going through. My sons have both had moderate to sometimes mild, but persistent, acne for a couple years and I would do anything it takes to help them with it. Over time we made several trips to the derm and tried several different prescription topicals, all to no avail. Most just seemed to cause extreme redness and irritation and did nothing to stop the acne. The only thing that has helped my boys is Dans regimen. It hasn't been totally perfect, and it's had ups and downs that have been frustrating, but it is definite upward progress. So I feel it is the best thing that they can be doing for their skin. Take a look at the gallery pics of Regimen users that have had so much improvement, many with severe acne. It will make you feel better. Try to get him on the Regimen as soon as possible. And once again, I would urge him to cut out protein shakes. My sons are both athletic and when they have been drinking protein shakes they have noticed acne flare-ups, so they stopped. Best of luck.

Edited by KAmanda
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Remove wheat and dairy. Add fish and beef liver (liver, onions, and bacon is a nice simple recipe). For topical treatment, you could try a mild salicylic acid wash. There's a possibility this could be folliculitis, so you could try using head and shoulders shampoo on the face instead. It's harsh, but you're supposed to apply it in a layer and leave it on for 3-5 minutes, then wash off very thoroughly. Alternatively, you could buy a bar of soap that contains zinc pyrithione. I would also recommend a moisturizer - the best I've found is CeraVe moisturizing cream.

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wOw.. you guys are AMAZING just to talk to people who have lived or are living this… it is just so supportive!

I have shed many tears reading posts on here.

I tried ordering the Regimen today but i need it shipped internationally [Australia] I was happy to pay the $58 shipping but when i went through PayPal the shipping jumped to around $140 . I have emailed to see if that is correct but am waiting to hear back.

glee12 ..can you tell me what ACV is?

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being proactive (not getting proactiv) is definitely the way to go. Your initial posts states you went thru numerous products from the derm to no avail; id be interested in hearing what was prescribed and how long he used it for. Its so hard, as I can attest to, but any product HAS to be given a full 3 months to make a decision as to whether it works or not. Also, just about everything being prescribed by a derm will cause dryness and irritation, initially. The side effects do subside after prolonged use.

Im not being disrespectful to all of those above that commented about the elimination of different foods but the kid is 15 years old. His hormones are going bananas at this age. My own opinion is that his condition will not go away by the elimination of dairy alone.

Despite the bad rap that derms get, its my opinion, and dont take me as an expert on anything except a 38 year old still dealing with this, is that he needs to be under a derm's care. His acne is severe that wont be solved overnight.

I wish you, and him, the best. Good luck

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Thanks goodz19. I totally agree that he needs to be under a Derms care, I do have another appointment with an acne specialising dermatologist but it is not till April so that is why i am willing to try things in the meantime.

My son has been vigilant in the taking of his meds and applying the topicals so far.

He was originally taking the prescription [Doxylin 50] took this for 14 months and was told to use Proactive.. he did this for 6 months…

We were then prescribed Clindatech and Epiduo 2.5% wich he used consistently for another 6 months in that time i am not saying that his acne didn't improve at times.. it did but then it would also worsen. To be honest we were just so used to seeing him like that that we became a little immune to just how bad it was getting!

The only time he stopped taking meds was the 7 weeks into the Accutaine program and that WAS WORKING!

He is currently continuing to take the Akamin and use the Stieva A…[only prescribed on the 3r January].. he doesn't want to but i have encouraged him to do so at least until the regimen products arrive.

I have just started him on Rice milk.. it can't do any harm to try i guess

Edited by OneProudMumma
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Could you try putting him on and elimination or very bland diet to see if it's possible he's allergic to something he's eating?

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how many mg was he taking daily for accutane?

you may want to try a much lower dosage of 10mg daily so that the side effects will be more tolerable.

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Freefood, he had started at 10 but by week 5 or 6 he was up to 40 from memory.

After spending much of my time over the past few days reading on this site I am starting to think that this last bad breakout is actually due to the Stieva A cream he has been using nightly for the past month.

The Dr [GP] had never mentioned that he may have BAD breakouts in the initial stages of this treatment and that his skin would become itchy and irritated but i have read here that is to be expected?

We have had a pretty rough afternoon emotionally here and i finally got him to check this site out.. it all seems to be making a bit more sense to both of us now.

We are still going to try eliminating some foods and adding some vitamin supplements but I think we will give the Regimen a good try before we look at Accutaine again.

Cant thank you all enough for the support & info

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If you're going to try the regimen, you need to eliminate any other skin-care products that you use. Follow it to the T. As others stated, remove the dairy. Try almond milk in with his protein shakes and if his protein contains whey, try an all natural one. I use Garden of Life, Raw Protein. It's vegan and uses plant-based proteins such as brown rice protein. It also contains vitamins and probiotic cultures.

Personally, I would drop the regimen and get on a higher dose course of accutane and complete the course. His acne is as you said, very severe.

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I agree that he should try a stronger dose of Accutane and stick it out until the end. For any treatment, acne gets worse before it gets better. He should also try to get other opinions from different dermatologists.

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Here is a list of all the things I've tried and is working relatively well for my skin:

Green clay powder mixed with lemon juice;

Supplements: Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Zinc and fish oil;

Neutrogena Exfoliating cleanser for acne-prone skin; (I've tried everything, even 200$ bottle cleansers...and it wasn't worth it)

Chemical peels; (30% glycolic peels and 30% salicylic peels. My skin responded better to glycolic peels.)

microdermabrasion treatments;

Laser treatments;

DMSO and crushed aspirin that I apply on my acne to help reduce inflammation;

High percentage of benzoyl peroxide spot treatments.

I've heard that vinegar does wonders for acne, maybe he can try it. It was the next thing I wanted to try.

Good luck !

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STOP DRINKING THAT MILK ASAP! Protein supplements are usually soy or whey protein and both can cause acne, particularly in teens but also in anyone. I triggered adult-onset acne by drinking "milkshakes" with whey protein and banana in them every morning. Needless to say, my diet contains zero milk and zero protein supplements now. I get all my protein from food. He will have to up his intake of lean meats (and dark leafy greens to make up for calcium), but it's completely worth it.

If he is health-conscious, I highly recommend juicing vegetalbes - particularly beets, leafy greens and carrots. I drink a concoction made from carrots, one beet, celery, and one apple every morning, and it really was the extra step I needed in clearing my skin (finally). Carrots and beets in particular are highly anti-inflammatory. I also recommend he eat plenty of cold-water fish like salmon as it is very anti inflammatory and helps with healing. However, stopping milk and protein supplements might be the only thing needed to completely clear him up. I use coconut milk and a vegan protein powder sometimes when I am strength training, but largely avoid processed protein mixes now. Coconut milk is a great milk substitute and tastes great. Make sure to get one without added sugar, since insulin spikes contribute to breakouts as well.

DO NOT PUT HIM ON ACCUTANE. I personally know more than one person who suffered complications from it including but not limited to constant skin dryness, bleeding and cracking and Crohn's disease. It permanently alters gene expression and is a serious chemotherapy drug that is being used off-label for acne. It is like shooting a rabbit with a rocket launcher. This is just my opinion, and you should do your own research on the subject.

I recommend minimizing topical treatments as I find that they really only mask the symptoms of a disease that needs to be treated holistically with a whole-body approach. I still use a little BP cream if I notice a random spot, but since changing my diet, those instances are few and far between. I have gotten only one pimple of any consequence in the past 3 months and that was after a night with friends during which I consumed several slices of pizza (which contains all my acne triggers at once... not a wise choice). I do highly recommend light chemical peels to mitigate any red marks or scarring after acne begins to clear. A few 30% glycolic acid peels were all I needed to slough off the evidence of my acne, but consult a dermatologist to see what is best for your son.

Derms in general do not address the diet/acne link, which I find unfortunate. I went to several who wanted to put me on increasingly harsh topicals and even accutane, not once entertaining the idea that my acne could be food sensitivity-related. Once the offending foods are removed, skin clears surprisingly quickly. When I removed excess carbs, sweets, dairy, and soy and whey protein, my skin cleared in an astonishing 2 months. I also have a sensitivity to citrus fruits that I discovered when adding fresh grapefruit juice to my normal veggie juice that I make in the morning. That does not mean citrus is bad for everyone, though. Just me.

Good luck!



Edited by dscully
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