What is the worst thing about having acne as an adult?
- “People bringing it up and suggesting products to use or suggesting you change your diet to help fix it.” –Kristina K.
- “Having body acne…it’s embarrassing when I have a break out and my husband points it out.” –Shalee B.
- “Insecurity!” –Teri Sue P.
- “The ouchies!!!” –Barbara M.
- “Embarrassing.” –Amy W.
- “Insecure.” –Nicole H.
- “It’s painful physically and it’s embarrassing. You think as an adult you don’t have to deal with it but PCOS doesn’t care about our age.” –Heather N.
- “Insecure.” –Theresa A.
Do you just cringe at the thought of dealing with huge cystic acne breakouts as an adult?
I don’t know about how your PCOS journey started, but this was the start of mine.
It was my freshman year of college.
I was living in the dorms.
Eating cafeteria food.
Devising ways to sled down the 30 foot high bluff overlooking lake Michigan with cafeteria trays.
And dealing with crazy breakouts.
I was so embarrassed and insecure.
Here I was trying to make friends, start a professional career, and work on my MRS degree (yes mom…I was on the dual track…hehe) and my face lit up worse than a Christmas tree with acne.
I found myself starring into the mirror asking myself what the heck was going on? Why am I suffering with this when everyone around me has clear skin?
Enter treatment option #1: Topical creams.
I started to battle the acne by trying some of those acne products out there.
There are quite a few out there on the market. Some of the available topicals that may help with acne breakouts: benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, topical antibiotics such as clindamycin and tetracycline, and Azelex.
Well, I gave it a BIG shot. I tried everything from proactive (worked a little bit for about a year) to Murad (made my breakouts worse) to going make-up free (ewww!). I had pretty much tried every other “acne fighting topical product” out there.
Nothing seemed to work. Still had the breakouts.
I also spent hundreds on facial treatments. They helped clean out my pores, but did nothing to stop future breakouts. They sure felt wonderful though!
Enter treatment option #2: Dermatologist.
I did some research on what I could get a prescription for.
Some of the available options dermatologists may offer are isotretinoin, spironolactone (androgen blocker), or low-dose birth control pills. I thought, “what could it hurt? Stronger stuff will be better right?”
So, I decided to visit my regular doctor and then the dermatologist. I was put on many different antibiotics. Now I am allergic to more classes than I can count! I was started on topical retinoid creams. URG!
Enter treatment option #3: Birth Control Pills.
The dermatologist offered birth control pills. I accepted.
Hallelujah! They worked!
I was on YAZ for about 4 years thinking I was doing pretty awesome. I still had a few breakouts here and there, but nothing too bad.
Then I came off of them + wham-bam: the acne came back worse than ever!
That is when the diagnosis of PCOS came.
Acne + PCOS Connection
Acne is caused by the higher inflammation we have going on in our bodies as well as the imbalance of hormones associated with PCOS. With PCOS, we produce too many androgens (those male hormones) that lead to more acne, hair thinning, abnormal hair growth, + many other symptoms associated with PCOS.
Acne in adult women is a big clue that they might have PCOS. In two different studies, the experimental group had more women with acne than the control group.
One study showed 26% of women who had acne also were diagnosed with PCOS vs. only 8% in the control group. It also showed that serum total testosterone levels were significantly higher in the women who had acne and PCOS than the control group.
The low-down on the real ways to beat PCOS Acne
Many of the different medications available to treat PCOS help minimize acne, but what about treating it naturally (who wants more chemicals in our body anyway)?
It does take a little bit of work, but it is so worth it! Think about how amazing your skin is going to glow when you change a few things up!
Once I made these changes, I noticed a huge difference + am happy to report I am (mostly) acne free. I still get one here and there when I am really stressed or veer from this plan, but overall I am very happy with how things are now!
Here is what I did to nix the acne:
Step 1: Detoxed my beauty routine.
Develop a good natural skin care routine that includes a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer as well as a product to exfoliate a few times a week. I am a big fan of justthegoods.net since she makes everything at home with just pure ingredients. I also love using the masks below a few times per week. My skin glows a lot more now!
Check out ewg.org the Environmental Working Group. It lets you compare products and gives you a grade for pretty much every product out there. It will help you make the choices for healthier products with less chemicals that can really wreak havoc on your skin.
Is your beauty routine wreaking havoc on your skin?
Step 2: De-stressed my life.
Stress can send our hormones out of whack quicker than anything else (or so it seems). Make sure you are getting enough sleep and take time out to relax when you can.
Have you de-stressed today?
Here are some of my articles from my other site amberkeinath.com to help you de-stress your life:
Step 3: Got in regular exercise.
Not only is exercise a great stress reliever, it also helps improve our insulin sensitivity which will help balance our hormones, lowering the androgens which will decrease the amount of acne breakouts. Make sure you wash your face after a good sweat session so you don’t clog your pores from the outside.
Getting exercise on a daily basis can actually help you beat out PCOS + acne!
Here are some of my other articles to help you get started with exercise for PCOS:
Step 4: Choose an anti-inflammatory diet.
The most important thing you can do is to focus on what you put inside your body. Be sure to increase your water intake. Also, be sure to choose whole foods such as beans, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Cut out the processed foods, sugar, dairy, caffeinated beverages, and soda.
It’s amazing what your diet can do to your skin!
The PCOS Diet: How to Get Started Eating Healthy with PCOS
Here are some of my favorite homemade recipes to boost your complexion.
1. Cinnamon and Honey Mask
Mix two tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Make sure they are blended really well. Leave on for about ten minutes. It can be used as either a mask or to spot treat. Be sure to use raw honey without any of the fillers you typically find in store bought sources. I like to find a local honey supplier. See your local farmer’s market.
Cinnamon + Honey = Glowing Skin! Here’s the recipe:
2. Oatmeal Mask
This is a great way to sooth the inflammation and redness that comes with acne. You want steel-cut oatmeal for this mask. Prepare as directed and leave on your face for about twenty minutes. You can also add honey to give it an antibacterial boost or essential oils of our choice to make it small amazing!
Oatmeal is a great way to leave my skin smooth + heathy! Here’s how to do it:
3. Aloe Vera Mask
Living in the desert southwest, Aloe Vera is a common addition to our landscaping and it has so many different household uses. Treating acne or any complexion issues is a great way to reduce redness and inflammation. Boost the antibacterial power of this mask by adding raw honey to it. If you add in the honey, you will want it a 1 to 4 ratio Aloe Vera to honey. Leave it on your face for up to 20 minutes.
Got Aloe Vera plant hanging around? Try this for glowing skin:
Cyster Talk Time
Here’s how your fellow Cysters have dealt with the acne. Add your experience with acne + how you beat it naturally below in the comments below…
- “I am on trentiol cream and clindamycin. It worked miracles. Also changed my diet and was on a round of antiobiotics for a month to clear up the cystic acne.” –Kristina K.
- “I have body acne which I am very self-conscious of…especially around my chest. I haven’t found much that has helped yet. Tried different exfoliating things, changed detergent, drink lots of water. Even when I cut out carbs I still had it. Not that I plan on flashing anyone any time soon but I still don’t feel super confident.” –Heather N.
- “I do believe it takes a while to figure out what works for you. For me, i was tired of the antibiotics and all the cleansers full of acids. I have Nano cleanse as a facewash and then all of my other products come from seacret direct. Products from the dead sea. I love the toner and serum. They have made a HUGE difference. I have terrible cystic acne and have had one very small break out in the past 4 months.” –Amy W.
- “The skin care products I use are products I sell. They have worked for me and I have pcos. Especially the kale mask. The best part is they are not full of harsh chemicals or outrageously priced.” –Kristalin G.