Tips on cystic acne
I know the struggle of cystic acne all too well. I had clear skin growing up, even all through middle school and high school, I only had a small breakout here and there.
Unfortunately, as I got older, I developed horrible cystic acne. My skin has been very red, with huge painful cysts, along with smaller pimples as well. It has been one of my biggest struggles to overcome it, especially mentally, as it has taken a huge toll on my self-confidence. There have been so many times where I’ve made plans, but simply couldn’t go through with them. I would be crying as I was getting ready because of how horrible I felt I looked with my acne. Not even makeup could cover it up, so I would stay home. I even stopped posting selfies on social media because I just felt so ugly. Not even edits or filters could make me feel okay, so I stopped posting.
I still am unsure of the exact cause of this acne. Maybe it started because of my hormones changing, a change in the environment, being on birth control for so long, switching to a plant based diet 2 years ago, or maybe it was a combination of all 3, I guess I’ll never know for sure.
However, even though I don’t know the exact cause of my cystic acne, I definitely know the struggle that comes with it, and I’ve done tooons of research to find a way to cure it myself. I didn’t want to go to a dermatologist because I didn’t have insurance, I knew it would be too expensive, and I’m also all about holistic and natural health. I knew that going to a dermatologist would mean I would mostly likely get prescription pills, or creams filled with chemicals, and I didn’t want that.
So I researched more and more, for hours on end, and although I still haven’t gotten rid of my acne fully, it has drastically improved. (I’ll share photos below).
The struggle has literally been real, and because I don’t want anyone else to feel the same horrible struggle, for as long as I have, I’m going to share all the tips and knowledge that I’ve figured out and I hope that some of this might help you. <3
First of all, there are many things that can cause or contribute to cystic acne, but it’s usually something internal, and the most common thing that affects cystic acne in particular is hormones. So, try to remember when your acne started. Did you start a new brand of birth control, did you just get off birth control, or did it just seem to happen? Hormone changes obviously happen naturally throughout our life, but more often I’ve seen cystic acne tied to the birth control pill. Whether it’s from changing birth control brands, (hormone levels differing in different pill brands), being on the birth control pill for several+ years, or when getting off of the birth control pill. The pill has many negative side effects for our body, especially if you’ve been on it for over 3 years, and even more severe side effects if you’ve been on it for 10+ years. Just some of these side effects can include: increased risk of blood clots, cervical and breast cancers, infertility, candida, liver tumors and depression.
I’m not telling you this information to scare you, but many women are simply not educated properly by their doctors. I’m currently still educating myself all about transitioning off the birth control pill, looking for a more natural and effective source of birth control, and how to naturally balance my hormones. Once I feel I have enough information about these topics, I hope to launch some type of course about this, as long as there are enough women interested. I would love if this type of information would be easily accessible for women going through the same struggles that I have! (If you’d be interested in this type of course, let me know! Simply comment below, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or subscribe here).
For now, I highly suggest that you read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler if you’re looking to get off of the pill and want to use natural birth control methods instead. I also highly suggest that you read the book Woman Code by Alisa Vitti if you haven’t already. She talks all about hormones and women’s health!
I also think it’s really important that you get your hormone levels checked to see exactly where your hormone levels are at. This can be a little pricy to get done, usually anywhere from $100-300, but once you figure out which exact hormone levels are lower or higher than normal, then there are all kinds of natural supplements and superfoods that you can take in order to balance them out. So I would definitely check to see exactly where they are first if you can. If that’s something you can’t currently afford, there are other options to explore as well.
Another thing to consider is your diet. Did you change anything with that? Did you stop eating something you use to always eat? Did you start eating something that you usually didn’t? Did you happen to go vegan or plant based? Many people get clearer skin going vegan, but some people simply cannot thrive off a fully vegan diet. I was one of them. While I try to eat as plant-based as I possibly can, I’ve found that I need to take additional supplements, some being non-vegan unfortunately, in order to get the proper nutrients my skin and body needs. So that’s something to consider as well.
Some supplements you may want to look into are adding in Omega-3’s. You can find Omega-3’s in added superfoods such as flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts or spirulina. I simply add these into my morning smoothies or tonics. If you’re okay with a supplement that’s non-vegan, then I would recommend getting a fish oil supplement that is high in DHA and EPA, one quality brand is Ocean Blue. Other supplements to consider adding would be Zinc, Vitamin D3, and eating more liver supporting foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and apples.
Cystic acne could also be contributed to your gut health/digestion. If those things seem out of whack, and you have issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, or acid reflux, I would suggest adding a daily probiotic and perhaps a digestive enzyme too.
Many people also may overeat sugar/simple carbs, which can also contribute to cystic acne. Not just sugars in candy, but sugars that occur naturally too – such as if you eat a lot of fruit or grains, as there can be sugar/simple carbs in a lot of those, along with other foods too. I would just be aware of this and check into the sugar content of everything you’re eating. It’s recommended that women only eat 25g of sugar per day, and the standard person is eating much more than that. For some people it doesn’t affect them, but for others this can be a main contributor in skin problems. Other things that may cause people cystic acne are soy, gluten, dairy, and caffeine, so these are all things to be aware of.
No matter if you decide to add one of these supplements to your diet, or several, or none – I suggest that you keep a food and skin journal if you struggle with acne of any type. You can start to daily log and keep track of everything that you’re eating and how your skin is looking. If your acne is getting better or worse, you can look back, and may be able to track specifically what is causing it to get worse, or helping it to get better.
Another thing to think about is what kind of products are you using on your skin? Though cystic acne is usually something that’s going on internally, what we put on our skin is important too. I’ve found using jojoba oil with quality essential oils is great. I suggest mixing jojoba oil, (or some type of carrier oil, depending on your skin type), with just a drop or two of melaleuca and/or lavender as your facial cleanser/moisturizer. There are other essential oils that can help too, but that’s what I suggest starting with. Just make sure you are using quality essential oils, as those that are not of quality and can be purchased pretty cheaply, can actually have added chemicals in, just as many other facial products do too. (If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils then check out my ebook here).
If you’re using skincare products, look at the labels. If you can’t pronounce most of the ingredients on the bottle, you probably shouldn’t be using that on your skin. (I follow this rule for eating foods too). The best “rule” to follow, is that you want to be able to read and know what products are both in your skincare products, as well as foods you eat.
Lastly, be sure to tell yourself positive affirmations and give yourself love talk. Your body needs to know it’s loved. Instead of talking down to your skin saying it’s ugly, look yourself in the mirror or whenever you’re thinking something negative about your skin, and say something like, “I love you skin. I’m sorry I can’t get to the root cause of what’s going on with you right now, but I promise you I’m figuring it out. I’m working on it and I know that I will get you clear again. Until then, I accept you as you are, right now. I love you. You are beautiful”.
How we talk to ourselves is everything, and you definitely want to be bringing yourself more positive energy, rather than negative. Trust me, I know how hard it is to deal with cystic acne, I’ve spend so much of my time crying because of how low my self-confidence has been, but I know that we will get down to the bottom of all this and figure this all out! So don’t give up!
Conclusion / Photos
Although these photos may be pretty embarrassing for me to share publicly, I’ve felt so alone in this struggle, so I’m sharing these only in hopes that they may help at least one of you feel less alone with your acne. These unedited photos are from September 2016, January 2017, and the last two are of today, September 2017.
Remember, that you still are incredibly beautiful, even with your acne, or whatever other flaws you believe you have. <3
Please know that I’m not necessarily a professional on this topic, but I have certainly done sooo much research, so I’m more than happy to help with any of this if you have any questions at all! Feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email. 🙂
Also, I will be sure to make an updated blog post once I’ve figured out all the hormone balancing / getting off the pill in detail too!
Sending you so much love.