I'm a 22 year old Australian female. I first started to get blackhead on my nose and chin when I was about 11. When I was in my teenage years I began to get pimples- red, raised, sore to touch, hideous to look at. I didn't like this, but I accepted it as being the age I was and most of my friends at some point through their teens had pimples, blackheads and oily skin too. My understanding of acne was that it was something teenagers got as their bodies went through drastic hormonal changes and for some people this is true. As I got into my later teens; 17, 18 years+ I still had this low-grade but very persistent acne. Everyone I knew around my age their skin had either cleared or was clearing- mine just got worse. The blackheads had spread from the nose & chin to along my lower jaw line, forehead and temple areas. I was also starting to notice blackheads/ whiteheads on my shoulders, and on my back between my shoulder blades.
By the time I was 19 and had finished school I was getting very upset with my skin- it was often too oily to wear make up- I looked terrible. Here I was 19 years old, 6ft tall, a size 4 (US size) could have been doing modelling with poor skin.
I had tried virtually every over-the-counter face wash, scrub, moisturizer, mask etc that was available over that time- a lot of them actually made my skin noticeably worse.
I went to a doctor who's first treatment option for me as a young woman was the birth control pill (Yaz) and a topical ointment (Duac).
The Duac was helpful but my skin seemed to build up a resistance to it after about 6 months use. Yas made little difference to my skin and made me feel unwell (tired, lacked energy). After 3 months of Yaz I stopped taking it and had an explosive breakout which just wouldn't stop- worse than anything before I went on it. i continued with the Duac anyway as it at least minimised the redness of the pimples.
I went to see another Doctor who put me on the BCP (Diane 35ED)- I only took it for 2 months before the side effects got too much.
My skin again broke down I went to yet another doctor who prescribed me BCP Yasmin- which helped my skin a little, but thankfully I have experienced NO side effects from this pill and I am still taking it. I also was prescribed at this time Retenin A Cream - this was the single biggest disaster I have ever been through with my skin. My skin got so bad that I ended up on the highly potent & controversial drug Roaccutane / Oratane. This made me ill and I could not continue to take it past the first week.
I was by this time feeling absolutely devastated; everything I had seemed to do was a massive failure and literally came back t slap me in the face. I slipped into a reactive depression- I deferred my University course which I just started in Law. it was when I was at my lowest that I stumbled across some alternative article on the connection between diet/ lifestyles and acne.
Let me start this half of my article by saying MY DIET WAS SHOCKING- I was one of the most unhealthy eaters and useless cooks I had ever come across. My diet mainly included; mashed potato, tomato sauce with every meal (yes even curry and roast lamb etc.). I drank very little water, but drank a lot of tea, coffee, alcohol. I consumed diary products excessively-particularly cheese. And of course I ate a lot of sweets, potato crisps, chocolate etc, too.
My mother (who was always a healthy food advocate) had tried telling me since I was very young that I was depriving my body of the nutrients it needs to grow properly and one day I would suffer the consequences. But what do our parents really know when we're teenagers?
In reading this article I discovered a link between people to make unhealthy lifestyles choices and their likelihood of developing acne even as adults. I was desperate so I was prepared to do anything to clear my skin. I decided to go on a radical healthy eating diet. I cut out all of the foods I mentioned above; except for dairy- but I reduced my intake and avoided anything with added sugar & preservatives. I began to drink around 2 litres of water a day and cut back to just one cup of coffee.
I did include plenty of fresh (sometimes even raw) fruit and vegetables, unsalted, unroasted natural nuts, Low GI carbohydrates. So no white bread, white rice, potato, cakes etc. I reduced sugar to just the naturally occurring sugars in fruit and diary. I did still eat meat, but reduced my intake of red-meats to only twice per week. I included plenty of turkey, chicken and oily fish such as FRESH salmon and tuna (I avoided eating processed & preserved meats in general including salami & sausages & stopped eating pork products).
Within the first 2-3 weeks I noticed a huge reduction in the surface oil of my skin on my face and back.
With 2-3 months virtually all the pimples had gone- I was just back to the few blackheads on my nose and chin (which i was happy with). I have continued with this eating style for 1 year now- and my skin is still virtually clear- a few black heads and the occasional pimple pops up. I can wear any make up I want including oil-based ones! I can put fake tans on use what ever moisturizer I want and my skin doesn't hiccup.
(I have attached some progress shots of my face).
I am not suggesting that this is the end all answer for everybody who has acne. Everyone is different and different things work for different people. Diet & acne is not something which most doctors run with and the drug companies certainly don't, but it is not an unreasonable possibility. If you want something bad enough for example clear skin then be prepared to try things a little outside the square of mainstream medical science. You won't know until you have tried it.
I hope my story and the things I discovered along they way may be of help to any who has or knows somebody who has persistent acne that they're keen to get rid of.
I will do my best to keep everybody who reads this updated about any further progress I make or (hopefully not) regression.
Cheers to you All -AND REMEMBER TO SET YOURSELF REACHABLE GOALS!