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Have I Tried It All?? Any outside the box ideas?

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Long post ahead! I've been on this thread for a few years getting lots of great advice from you all on different things to try for my acne, from topical stuff to natural remedies, but since my hormonal acne hit it's peak over a year ago, it really seems absolutely nothing has helped! I'm pretty much at my wits end (and frankly getting to that depressed don't want to leave the house stage) so I am wanted to see if anyone has any recommendations which I haven't tried. At this point I'm willing to try ALMOST anything, so please chime in with suggestions that have helped you (even the weird stuff)! My main concern is getting rid of the cystic acne, but if you have suggestions for the white and blackheads, that is also helpful!

My Skin Type: Painful cystic acne around my jaw and outer cheeks, and occasionally one on the forehead. Lots of little white spots around the chin and forehead and blackheads around the T zone. Skin is very oily in the t-zone and very dry around the jaw and cheeks. Also the acne skin is very itchy. I also have endometriosis. 

Here is what I have already tried:


  • * Dianette (contraceptive pill. Helped for a while, but was hell for my health and anxiety. Might have caused my endometriosis)
  • * Various other contraceptive pills which didn't work AND gave me bad side effects (Marvelone, Jasminelle etc etc)
  • * Tetracyclines (anti-biotics taken for many months, did not help)
  • * Differin Gel (Topical retinoid which made my skin super dry but didn't help with whitespots or blackheads)
  • * Zalna Gel (Klindamycin/tretinoin, didn't help)
  • * Benzoyl Peroxide (the 5% stuff does nothing, but I tried a clean & clear set with 10% benzoyl peroxide which helped even though my skin was dry and peeling, but it did nothing for whiteheads and blackheads)

Topical Products
  • * The whole La Roche-Posay line (Seemingly helps the first week or two, then stops)
  • * The whole Vichy Normaderm line (same as La Roche)
  • * Clean and Clear Advantage (the set from the US, the UK one sucks. This worked but only for acne and not whitespots, and it was soooo drying)
  • * Etude Wonderpore Line (helped A LOT with blackheads and pores but did nothing for acne)
  • * Tony Moly Goat Milk Line (My skin was clear when I was using the samples, but then when I got the full sized stuff it had no effect)
  • * COSRX Blemish Pads (did nothing)
  • * COSRX Snail 96 Mucin (doesn't do anything bad, but haven't noticed any great effect and it's not very moisturizing)
  • * COSRX Pimple Master Patch (THESE ARE AMAZING! Obviously doesn't cure my acne, but really helps them heal and not leave massive bumps after extractions)
  • * Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Mask (I feel I break out less and my pores seem better, but it doesn't really cure anything. Plus it's so expensive)
  • * Pure Centella Asiatica water toner (the Elizavecca one)
  • * I've tried SO MANY other products but these are the most recent and noteworthy ones.

DIY Natural Remedies
  • * Essential Oils (Tried replacing my entire skincare routine with various oil blends mainly using argon and hemp carriers, and oils like teatree, lavender, geranium, frankincense, clarysage, neroli etc etc etc) At first I felt it helped, then it kind of stopped.
  • * DIY clay masks (tried Kaolin, Fullers Earth, Lava clay, Charcoal, floral waters, ACV, essential oils etc.) I made a lot of mistakes here, and clearly don't tolerate many clay other than Kaolin, cause most masks left my face bright red and burning. 
  • * Masks with food crap, like honey, lemon, oatmeal, fruit etc (this literally did nothing and was a mess and waste of delicious food) 

  • * Vitamins: Zinc, Magnesium, Vit D, B6, Primerose Oil, collagen tablets
  • * Spearmint Capsules (tried this for over 4 months, it didn't help and I started feeling pretty sick and having some liver side effects)
  • * HRI Clear Complexion (Burdock root and Blue Flag Iris rhizome) Did nothing
  • * Milk Thistle (didn't notice any big chance but only tried it for 2-3 weeks)

  • * Facials with extraction
  • * High Frequency facial treatments

And finally here is what I am currently using (I'm having a bad breakout and I'm trying to use as little as possible to give my skin a break):
  • * Etude O-Le-Mong One Shot Morning Gel Cleanser
  • * Boots Botanical Rose mist
  • * COSRX Snail 96 Mucin
  • * 5% Benzyl Peroxide spot treatment
  • * Mirena coil (Progesterone only IUD, I need it for my endometriosis, have had it 4 years)
  • * Supplements: Primrose Oil, Vit D, Zinc
  • * Still trying the High Frequency treatments 

As you can see I feel I've really tried everything, but if you can recommend ANYTHING I haven't tried I am willing to put in the research and give it a go! It's frustrating because SOME things seem to work for a week or two and then the skin just goes bad again. The one thing I won't try is prescription acne tablets like Accutane or ROACCUTANE or antibiotics again since they didn't work and made me feel sick. I'm very sensitive to oral prescription drugs and try not to take anything too strong when possible. I'm also willing to try a diet, but one place I read don't eat meat and dairy and sugar, then another places says don't eat grains and carbs and certain fruits, so it seems conflicting or like I'm going to starve? 
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Hi.  I've been there and in all honesty, i'm still there.  The thing with acne is that it will respond to different things for different people.  Medication wise, you could try:


It is used off brand for hormonal acne and some women have found tremendous results from it.  It helped me a lot with my acne in the past.

Dermatologically, you can try topicals such as:

retin a

Diet wise, there are many options.  Keep in mind what works for someone may not work for you so give each change 3 months

paleo (which cuts out dairy and ALL grains)
vegan (whole food vegan not junk food vegan)
going dairy and gluten free

Whatever diet you choose, stay away from processed foods, up your veggie and fruit intake, drink water like it is going out of style and exercise/destress.

Hope this was useful.

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3 hours ago, leelowe1 said:

Medication wise, you could try:


It is used off brand for hormonal acne and some women have found tremendous results from it.  It helped me a lot with my acne in the past.

I saw some other people recommending this, and I am going to look into it! Normally I don't like to try heavy medications as I am suuuper sensitive to side effects, but this seems better than stuff like Accutane, so it might be worth a shot. You mention it helped with your acne in the past, but did the effects ware off, or did you have to stop taking it? I hope you don't mind me asking!

As for dieting, I have tried paleo and it was just about the worst 2 months of my life. I think I prefer the pimples haha... But I have been considering going wheat and gluten free. I notice that my stomach feels like crap whenever I eat the stuff anyways, so it might be helpful in multiple ways. And of course, cutting out all sugar is supposed to be a huge help, even though I have a massive sweet tooth, I will have to fight through it! 

Thank you for the advice!

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This September will be three years on spiro.  I'm still on it but it is not working as it used to. I break out several times a week (not always bad but a breakout is a breakout).  I think i have other issues besides high testosterone that affect my acne which is why spiro has not completely cleared me.  

Good luck with the diet

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Have you ever heard of Homeopathy. It is a miracle. The medicine works without any side effect. And it helps a lot in clearing up acne. Not completely though. Enough for you to see the results. You will get acne evry once in a while but not life u used to get before switching to homeopathy. Try it. It worked for me and a number of other people i know.

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Have you been tested for a Demodex mite infestation?  If the standard anti-bacterial acne treatment is not working, then it is worth getting tested for these microscopic parasites. 

Every human over the age of 5 has a few of these mites.  A healthy immune system keeps them in check.  Many people who get demodex infestations report it started after they had been sick with an illness like the flu, shingles, etc.

Microscopic demodex mites can cause clogged pores (blackheads, whiteheads) and acne like lesions on a cyclical basis.  The mites can also cause dry, red eyes, itchy scalp and itchy skin.  It can be misdiagnosed as "hormonal acne".  The microscopic skin mites live for a 18-24 day cycle.  They eat the oil in the skin.  So any drug or diet change that makes your skin less oily may appear to control the acne somewhat.   The mites are tough to kill.  Bacterial acne medication does not appear to affect them at all.

If you have demodex, the best treatment is to kill the parasites.  The parasite treatment won't work unless you have a problem caused by skin mites.  Standard acne medication has little or no effect on them.  Accutane may reduce the oil in the skin enough to starve the mites and reduce the population.  But there is a much safer, faster, and more effective treatment for these parasites than Accutane.

The treatment was published in the International Journal of Infectious disease in 2013. Treatment takes 2 weeks with Oral Ivermectin and Oral Metronidazole. Insurance copay was just $13.03.  Uninsured retail drug price was about $52 USD.  This treatment worked for me after being misdiagnosed for years with acne (bacterial) and hormonal acne.

Paper can be found here:  

Combined Treatment (from paper) based on body weight for the oral Ivernectin:
1. Two doses of oral Ivermectin, one week apart, using 200 micrograms Ivermectin per kilogram of body weight. Worked out to 12 mg for me. Take on an empty stomach with a large glass of water.
2. Oral Metronidazole, 250 mg. three times a day for two weeks.  Do not drink alcohol while taking Metronidazole and for up to 72 hours after completing the last tablet.

The treatment takes a total of 2 weeks.  Take the Ivermectin on days 1 and 8 of treatment and Metronidazole every day for the 2 weeks.

As always, it is best to discuss this treatment with your doctor. These are prescription drugs. My family doctor was most helpful.

I'm at the 9.5 weeks post treatment mark. My skin and eyes are now clear.  

Edited by ElaineA
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So sorry to hear about your journey. It sounds like your body and skin have been through a rollercoaster!

I have found that that I am able to clears up my cystic, hormonal acne through treating it from within. I posted a huge explanation in the nutrition forum if interested. I am trained a so a nutritional therapist and only focus on evidence-based strategies!

Diet-wise, apart from cutting out dairy, sugar and nuts nothing else is proven to upset acne for everyone, so my advice is to focus on what you can add IN, whichever is high in vitamins/minerals/antioxidants. People with acne have significantly low level so of many things in their skin.

I would try to quit the BP. It leaches nutrients from the skin and stops healing. I have also relied on it in the past and had skin that sound s similar! Many things have been shown in clinical trials to be AS effective as BP without the side effects (lots of thing she one The Ordinary skincare range! It's super cheap too).

Hope my other post helps and good luck! 

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Would you not even consider low dose accutane and see how it goes? I had a bad reaction to minocycline, I'm on accutane ATM and things seem ok.

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