Taking Acne Under Control. Personal Story

May 22, 2024 | Mental Health, Physical Health | 0 comments

My name is Alex. I am a 31-year-old male, and in this post, I’d like to share my personal story of how I got my acne under control. I want to tell the complete story of how it started to develop, the impact it had on my mental health and self-esteem, what I tried to do about it, and what worked and what didn’t. I hope that the things that worked for me could help you, too.

Unfortunately, there won’t be any before and after pictures because, at that time, I hated my skin so much that I avoided taking any photos of myself. However, I do have a couple of images that I sent to my dermatologist right after the procedure, which I will add to the article. I also have pictures of my “after” skin.

How It All Started

Before I turned 16, I was a typical computer nerd: skinny with poor posture, always sitting behind a computer playing video games or watching TV shows. I was 6’3″ (190 cm) and weighed 133 lbs (60 kg). I became increasingly self-conscious about how skinny I was, which is when I decided to go to the gym and gain some weight.

I didn’t make much progress for the first two years, but by the time I turned 18, I finally started to look more normal. That’s also when I started developing acne.

How I Tried to Control It at First

It didn’t bother me at first. I remember meeting my uncle, whom I hadn’t seen for a year. He complimented me on how my body had changed for the better, but he also noticed the pimples developing on my face—and I started noticing them too. Over time, it just kept getting worse.

I knew it was genetic because both my father and my sister had acne.

At first, I tried all the ‘great’ advice you see online: wash your face with soap twice a day, use only paper towels to wipe your face, change your bedsheets every two days, etc. I tried all of it, and it didn’t work AT ALL.

I didn’t go to see a doctor because I was still living with my parents, and in my family, everyone is somewhat afraid of doctors. They are convinced that acne is not a big deal and that it will go away on its own with age. So, I believed that I just needed to wait a little longer, and it would clear up by itself. However, my mental health was getting worse.

It Got Even Worse

In addition to acne, I started developing seborrhoeic dermatitis on my nose, eyebrows, and scalp. I was in my early twenties at that time. I got my first office job, and it was a nightmare. I tried to get rid of it on my own, but it only got worse. My self-confidence was non-existent; I was so shy that I even dreaded showing my face. I never took photos of myself. I had no self-esteem. I hated my reflection in the mirror.

First Doctor Visit

I realized that I couldn’t handle it on my own. I suspected I had depression, but I can’t be sure since I was never diagnosed, and I never revealed how bad I truly felt to anyone.

I knew I needed to see a professional. I decided to fix my skin issues, whatever the cost was.

First, I had to overcome the belief, promoted by my family, that all doctors are bad and unable to help.

I must say that my family were probably the only people who knew how bad I felt about my skin, but mental health is not something they were ever concerned about. They would point out others with acne and remark how some people have it worse yet live happy lives, which was absolutely toxic. I can’t say that my parents were abusive or treated me badly in other aspects of life. They were, and unfortunately still are, uneducated about the importance of mental health.

Finally, at 25, I saw a dermatologist. It was my first visit to one. It was the first dermatologist I visited. He was incompetent. He told me the same thing my parents were telling me – it would eventually go away on its own. He prescribed a cream that only made things worse, and that was the last time I visited him.

Second Doctor Visit

After some time, I decided to visit another doctor at a different clinic. She was an award-winning doctor, and I was excited to finally get my problem under control.

I underwent blood work, an ultrasound of the abdomen, and various other tests. She told me that the root of my problems is my digestive system. The ultrasound revealed cholecystitis, a condition I was told was treatable and would resolve my skin issues. At that moment, I was relieved because it seemed like there was a solution.

However, even after treating the cholecystitis, my skin did not improve. The doctor then suggested we needed to eliminate all the bad bacteria. I underwent another test in preparation for antibiotics, which she prescribed.

I took antibiotics for six months. It didn’t scare me that much because, firstly, I was ready to do anything just to have normal skin, and secondly, I had read that this is one of the methods for treating acne, and some people have had success with this approach

Finally, my skin cleared up, and my self-esteem began to improve. It felt incredible—I felt on top of the world!

I slowly stopped taking antibiotics and the doctor said that I should work with a cosmetologist to make my skin look better. I just need to clean all of the post-acne and I can live a happy life.

However, once I stopped taking the antibiotics, my acne returned, and my skin condition got even worse than it was before!

I don’t recall the exact advice from the doctor following this setback, but I decided to stop visiting her.

The Third and Final Doctor

Before I found the doctor who truly helped me, I was deeply interested in the gym and spent a lot of time reading various forums dedicated to it. Although I never considered taking steroids, I learned from my reading that many bodybuilders do, and a common side effect is acne, which they often manage with Accutane. Some forum members even discussed ordering cheap Accutane from India, which seemed too risky for me. However, I did learn a lot about how the drug works. I told myself that if the doctor I was about to visit couldn’t help me, I’d be willing to take the risk and start taking Accutane on my own.

Yes, I was desperate enough to consider self-medicating, but I strongly advise against anyone taking this medication without a doctor’s prescription. However, I want to be as honest as possible about my experience.

After the first visit, the doctor examined my skin using a dermatological tool and told me that my pores were huge. She asked about my parents and their skin conditions, and said that nothing except Accutane would be effective. Genetics was to blame. Nonetheless, she still ordered blood work to check my hormone levels.

The blood work results came back showing that my DHEA hormone levels were double the normal amount. This hormone is also linked to baldness. I had small bald spots on the sides of my head, but they weren’t serious. However, my skin was a complete mess.

My acne was caused by hormones, my skin’s reaction to those hormones, and the large size of my pores.

As a result, I was prescribed Accutane and referred to an endocrinologist. The endocrinologist advised against reducing the hormone level because I’m a male and a couple of other factors I can’t recall now. She mentioned that the levels would decrease naturally with age and normalize on their own.

skin after treatment
skin after treatment

I was on a low dosage of Accutane, which is known to be effective while causing fewer side effects. The main issue I experienced was dry lips, which was manageable. I also underwent regular liver tests, and fortunately, my liver remained in good condition.

My Own Findings

Accutane was generally effective, but I still experienced occasional breakouts even while on the medication. Inspired by various social media accounts of people overcoming their acne through dietary changes, I decided to experiment with my diet, despite already eating healthily due to my regular gym visits.

The first significant discovery was that dairy products were triggering my acne flare-ups. Eliminating these from my diet brought some improvement, but not as much as I hoped. I continued experimenting, identifying eggs, red meat, coffee, chocolate, and sometimes chicken thighs as additional culprits. ALL fried foods had the least impact but still caused issues.

Interestingly, chicken breasts never seemed to cause any skin inflammation. This observation led me to theorize that animal fats were triggering my breakouts. Testing this theory by focusing on lean proteins like chicken breasts, white fish, and plant-based proteins proved successful—my breakouts ceased entirely.

This left me wondering: Was it truly my dietary changes, or had the Accutane finally taken full effect?

After I Was Done With Accutane

After completing my Accutane treatment, I started working on post-acne scars. I’ve seen it all, including laser therapy, plasmolifting, vitamin injections, various masks, you name it.

I also had my vitamin D levels tested and discovered I was deficient, which led to a prescription for vitamin D supplements along with a few other medications targeted at improving my capillary health.

My doctor also recommended taking low-dosage vitamin D supplements during the fall and winter, with a delay after my initial course of high-dosage vitamin D, to ensure I always have enough of it.

My skin became normal. I still have some noticeable scars; however, they are much less severe than before. Motivated by this progress, I decided to conduct another food experiment to test the durability of my previous findings.

My self-esteem is back to normal now. I don’t hate my skin and how I look. I am not afraid to take pictures of myself and not that shy anymore.

taking acne under control

Testing My Findings After Treating Acne

I wasn’t overly concerned because initially, the reaction began with small pimples, and I knew they would grow larger and become painful if I didn’t intervene. However, I also knew I could stop the experiment at any time.

So, I decided to test my theory. I reintroduced milk, drinking a cup each morning. By the evening of the first day, I noticed a small pimple. The next morning, after another cup, more pimples appeared. By the third day, I developed my first painful pimple and decided to stop; it took two days for the pimple to go away.

I conducted similar tests with other animal fat products, finding nearly identical results, with milk being the worst.

I haven’t conducted any tests with non-fat dairy or lean red meat, so I cannot comment on their effects; I choose to avoid them just to be safe. However, I discovered that I can indulge in any food I want for one day a week without significant consequences. Even if a breakout occurs, it’s minor and resolves within two days by itself.

My Recommendations and Findings for Taking Acne Under Control: Tips You Can Use Too!

I am not a doctor, so please take my advice with a grain of salt. If you haven’t already, please consult with a healthcare professional. If your health allows, ask your doctor about Accutane and discuss whether it’s right for you. A low dosage can be effective. Avoid alcohol, and use products to manage dry lips, as recommended by your doctor. Patience is key; wait for the medication to take effect.

Consider experimenting with your diet as I did:

  • Completely eliminate dairy.
  • Avoid eggs.
  • Cut out red meat and other fatty meats.
  • Avoid fried foods.

Here’s how I manage my diet:

  • Use an air fryer instead of frying food in a pan.
  • Eat foods that are steamed or baked in an oven or air fryer.
  • Allow yourself one day a week to indulge in foods that might cause a breakout if you REALLY want to eat something like that.
  • Replace coffee with tea.
  • Avoid chocolate.
  • Take a low dosage of vitamin D if you are not getting enough sunlight.

I hope you find this article helpful. Give these suggestions a try and see if they work for you. While Accutane might be sufficient, you may need to make additional changes to achieve the clear, beautiful skin we all desire.

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