TMI alert: adult acne

Acne is not something I like to discuss. It’s gross, embarassing and emotionally damaging, but it’s a part of life. And unfortunately, a major part of my life. Still. At age 26.

All I can say is, thank goodness for Bare Minerals makeup because it’s been my crutch for the past 3 years. Somehow, my diet of fast food and beer didn’t cause me to break out in college. But after I graduated, all hell broke loose on my face. And I’m finding out that a lot of other women my age and older are struggling with the same thing, so I wanted to talk about what I’ve done about it.

I completely disregarded Accutane because of the horrible side effects now associated with it. Listed below are just the “common” side effects. There are “infrequent” and “rare” side effects that are even worse.

Extreme severe acne flare, dryness of skin, lips and mucous membranes, infection of the cuticles, cheilitis, itch, rosacea, skin fragility, skin peeling, rash, flushing, nose bleeds, dry eyes, diffuse alopecia areata, eye irritation, conjunctivitis, reduced tolerance to contact lenses, hyperlipidaemia, raised liver enzymes, permanent thin skin, headaches, temporary/permanent hair thinning (this could start or continue after treatment), myalgia and/or arthralgia, back pain.

I knew that going to a dermatologist would result in receiving at least 3 prescriptions, all containing benzoil peroxide or harsher ingredients. I’ve tried every over-the-counter treatment imagineable, and yes, even Proactiv. None of them worked. Some made my acne worse. The chemical approach was clearly wrong.

I tried various natural “cures,” like rubbing garlic, lemons & vinegar on my face. Not only did they irritate the hell out of my skin, but I was still breaking out.

The problem obviously wasn’t my face being dirty. It was coming from within. Of course, hormones are one factor, which women have in abundance, but I was breaking out ALL MONTH LONG. Something wasn’t right.

I’ve always had dairy issues, but I ignored them because ice cream was just so damn tasty. It was worth the stomach ache afterwards, right? Turns out it was affecting more than just my stomach. I started doing some research online and came across, on multiple occassions, a link between dairy products and acne. I was intrigued. I had tried everything else, and spent tons of money. Cutting out dairy was free.

I went back and forth on the issue for a long time. Is it worth it? Cheese is so good! What am I going to eat? Where do I get dairy alternatives? Do they taste like crap?

Then I got engaged and started to plan my wedding. A whole day of being the center of attention. A million pictures. Close-ups. I immediately cringed when I thought of all the makeup I’d have to wear. I’d be worrying the whole night about it wearing off, making frequent trips with my bridesmaids to the bathroom to reapply. I had to fix my face.

I became an anti-dairy nazi. I read everything I could, tried lots of dairy alternatives, and assured my fiance that I wouldn’t take away his right to eat dairy. I tried soy cheese (awful!), almond milk (awesome!), soy sour cream (double awesome!), soy ice cream (amazing!) and made sure I read the ingredients of everything I bought so that no dairy was sneaking in. Did you know that DAIRY can be called by 65 different names? Casein is the big one to watch out for. It’s the addictive substance in dairy products that triggers the name pleasure sensors in your brain that heroine triggers. So when you say, “Wow, this ice cream/cheese is so addictive!” it’s because it literally is.

And did I have dairy withdrawal… wowzers. Tim would be eating pizza or a quesadilla and I’d be next to him eating some version of those with a dairy alternative, and I’d literally get SO pissed off at him. I’d smell that delightful mozzarella and get ANGRY. It was the weirdest thing ever. My cravings for dairy have calmed down since then, but I still fantasize about chunks of feta cheese on my salads at lunch. And yes, I’ve slipped up and indulged a few times. I had to taste my own wedding cake, obviously!

My acne has taken a chill pill as well. So my suffering wasn’t for nothing. I break out during “that time” of the month, but it’s much more mild and disappears quickly. I use about half the amount of cover-up and foundation that I used to, which is great ’cause Bare Minerals ain’t cheap! It takes about 2 weeks after you eat dairy for it to show up on your face, so it takes a while to know if it’s working. I use a gentle Burt’s Bees cleanser (that contains natural oils) and treat blemishes with Clearasil every other night. So far, I’m ecstatic about the results!!

Diet affects everything. Especially acne. Not everyone has dairy sensitivities, but now that I eliminated it, I feel better, sleep better, my food digests better and my face looks better. Sugar and carbs (especially grains) can also trigger acne. I haven’t eliminated them, because I’ve found success in eliminating dairy. But that’s something to try if you’re at the end of your rope.

If you’re struggling with adult acne, you CAN do something about it. It’s difficult, annoying and you might have to give up some foods you love. But it’s nice to be able to look in the mirror, sans makeup, without hating yourself.

Use this diagram, based on The Mishio Kushi Theory, to pinpoint how what’s going on inside your body is affecting your face.

This theory contends that a weakness or toxicity in a certain organ or gland can cause acne on certain areas of the body.

 Meg

References:

http://www.marysherbs.com/heal/heal-f-r.shtml

http://www.godairyfree.org/

http://www.turtlemountain.com/ (Awesome dairy-free products)

http://www.naturalnews.com/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/08/23/acne.aspx (No-grain diet for acne)

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2007/12/16/a_clear_connection/

Book: Skinny Bitch

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