All about ACNE

Myth: Once your acne disappears, it is gone forever

Fact: Acne is the result of many different factors, non which will disappear permanently 

There is nothing worse than a big pimple on your face, and they always seem to pop up during significant life events. I think I’ve had a zit for every interview I’ve suffered through, my wedding day, my sister’s wedding day and the moment we decided to build a home. We all agree that acne is a universal villain we love to hate, but I want you to know that there are specific lifestyle changes that will aid in treating acne.

Let’s start with what exactly is happening beneath our skin when we have acne, and then we will move on to the must-dos and must-don’ts. 

Acne (consisting of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples) occurs when your hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil.

Let’s break it down:

  • Whiteheads (closed plugged pores)

  • Blackheads (open plugged pores)

  • Cystic lesions (large, painful puss filed lumps under the skin)

  • Pimples (papules with pus at their tip)

Most people have acne on their face, chest, upper back or shoulders. Dead skin cells and oil can be the result of toxic product use and lifestyle choices, which I discovered after the recovery of three major acne stents in my life.

MY STORY

I have had several different bouts of acne throughout my life; the first one being the normal hormonal acne teenagers are graced with. When I was 18 years old, I made an appointment with a skincare specialist. A compassionate and knowledgeable nurse (the person who made me decide this career path) treated my acne so that I was blemish free until my second major acne spurt at 27 years old. 

I hit full on panic mode. My acne was out of control. I saw several different dermatologists who prescribed an array of different internal and external medications. Throughout my experiments, I did not use Accutane (I am not against this treatment. I just wanted to try everything else first). It wasn’t until I turned 30 years old that I met an esthetician who changed my entire perspective of good skincare.

Her first suggestion to me was to watch what I ate. My acne was directly related to the ingredients I put into my body. Suddenly, I became obsessed with what I was eating and went completely vegan. If you want to hear my entire food journey, you can read that here.  Although I am not vegan today, I do continue to limit dairy, sugar and gluten. I recommend doing a trial run of eliminating these three food products, especially for my clients who suffer from acne. I have become accustomed to how my body reacts to food. I know, without a doubt, that if I eat a few slices of pizza, I will wake up two days later with a few pimples! With that said, you have to live a little. Sometimes, you gotta just eat the damn pizza.

Another key suggestion this fabulous aesthetician gave was to start medical grade skincare products by Dr. Obagi. She started me on the Nu-derm and Clenziderm system, and I was able to see for the first time the significant impact good skincare product can have on your skin (versus products such as Cetaphil and Cerave that doctors were prescribing me). Now don’t think I woke up one week later with great skin after starting a more aggressive skincare regimen. My skin got worse before it got better, it was red, irritated and I was so frustrated! BUT I trusted my esthetician and she told me to hang in there are ride the bad parts out, and I am so glad I did!

Also during this time, I became employed at a dermatologist office and was exposed to Dr. Obagi’s newest skincare line, ZO Skin Health.

Now skip several years ahead with great skin….I had my third major acne eruption. This time my acne was cystic. It hurt. No skincare helped (even though I never stopped using ZO Skin Health). I made an appointment with a PA in town who suggested I check my hormones. Sure enough, my cortisol levels were skyrocketing. The PA informed me that I was producing too much testosterone, which was the result of elevated cortisol related to stress. STRESS! Who would have thought.

She put me on Spironolactone, which is normally used for blood pressure and commonly known as a “water pill” diuretic, but can also be used to block out the production of testosterone. It took three months for me to notice a change after starting, but I DID notice a transformation. This medication may have aided my outward appearance, but I had some internal growing to do if I wanted to decrease the stress in my life. 

It was only until 13 months ago that I decided to completely rid of any part of my life that provoked stress in me. The process was arduous, but absolutely worth it. I was able to quit taking spironolactone at that time and my skin has been behaving itself

YES THIS USED TO BE MY SKIN

MY HAPPY SKIN NOW

TIPS

What have we learned so far? Eat healthy. Destress. Use medical grade skincare products. 

Good. Let’s continue. 

What specifically to avoid: 

FOODS:

  • Iodized Sea Salt

  • Milk/All Dairy

  • Whey or Soy Protein

  • Gluten

  • Sugar

  • Non-Organic Meat

  • Soda

  • Artificial, colored, flavored, boxed or processed foods

LIFESTYLE: 

  • Laundry detergent with fragrance

  • Laundry Fabric Softeners/ Dryer sheets

  • Water softeners (especially those with high amounts of potassium chloride)

  • Comedogenic lotions

What helps? 

Zinc Monomethionine: This form of zinc is the most bioavailable form that acts directly as an anti-inflammatory. Many people with acne have low levels of zinc in their body. Supplementing with zinc has been shown to reduce the severity of cysts and inflamed lesions. My favorite is found here.

Omega 3: Fish oil is a great anti-inflammatory and helps to alter sebum production; HOWEVER, only if it’s molecularly distilled or pharmaceutical grade. My favorite is found here.

Probiotics: These are good bacteria that colonize the digestive tract and the skin. They can help people who have been on long-term antibiotics. These good bacteria compete with the pathogenic bacteria and can help improve the incidence of breakouts. My favorites are here, here.

Skin Supplements: Skin Accumax by Jane Iredale. These are one of the best acne treatment pills you can take! I recently saw my neighbor who has suffered from cystic acne for months and she started these a few months ago and her skin is clearer than day! I was AMAZED! All of my patients who take this have had great success. Not Suitable for: • Women who are pregnant • Anyone planning pregnancy • Breastfeeding mothers.

Laundry Detergent: Use fragrance-free detergent. My favorites are here, here and here.

Detox: Spirulina, Charcoal, Burdock root, Dandelion Root.

Other Tips:

  • Wash your bed sheets often (refer to above for the best laundry detergents).

  • Use silk pillow cases. Favorites found here, here and here.

  • Sanitize your cell phones. These are my favorite hand sanitizer wipes that I have on hand with me all the time. Here.

  • Don’t pick your zits! If you must extract at home, here is my favorite tool. Just be sure to clean the tool after each use with 99% isopropyl alcohol.

  • Avoid touching your face!

SKIN CARE iNGREDIENTS - PRODUCTS

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). AHAs slough off dead skin cells that cause pimple-producing clogged pores and leave you with smoother, softer skin. They can be applied all over the face. Types of AHAs include glycolic and lactic acid. (pregnancy safe).

Benzoyl peroxide - You'll find it in strengths ranging from 2.5 percent up to 10 percent in pimple-fighting facial cleansers, lotions, creams, gels, and spot treatments.

Clay - Clay is a calming ingredient for acne which can help bring the inflammation down.

Salicylic acid - This beta-hydroxy acid is an effective and powerful exfoliant that helps keep pores clear by exfoliating inside the hair follicle.

Sulfur -The mineral decreases excess oil and inflammation and helps to exfoliate dead skin cells.

Topical retinoids - The vitamin-A-derived topical retinoids, including tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova), adapalene (Differin), and tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage) not only smooth fine lines and wrinkles, but they also exfoliate the dead skin cells that cause clogs and lead to acne.

OTHER SKINCARE PRODUCTS AND TIPS

Like I said earlier, acne is a total villain, but even villains can teach us something. When I get a pimple on my face, it’s an invitation to be curious about my lifestyle. Did I drink enough water? Eat healthy? Avoid sugar? Go workout to destress? Focus on what you could do to better yourself and fuel the body you were given, and I promise you, blemish free skin will come.

Shine on beauties. 

Shine on. 

** Disclaimer - This is my personal acne journey and story and what I have found help mine and my patients **