(*Little disclaimer: I am not a doctor by any means. This is just what I found through my research and what ultimately worked for me. So please do your own research and check with your doctor first before trying any of these things.*)
If you didn’t know me before I had my cystic acne, you would never be able to tell that it was something I once struggled with. I don’t have any scars, discoloration, or deep indents left on my face. It wasn’t always like that though. It actually wasn’t until these past two years that I was finally able to smooth out my skin and get rid of all traces of my past acne. But to see how I finally ended up with smooth, acne-free skin, I think it’s important that we go back to the start, when my acne first began to make an appearance.
I started getting acne when I was in 5th grade at only 11 years old. At that time it was simply bumps all across my forehead and that’s where it remained. There was no redness to my skin but the bumps were still noticeable so I always made sure I had bangs to help cover it all up. That was 5th grade.
It wasn’t until 6th grade when I started getting the cystic acne all along my jaw. That would be the start of years and years of battling with this extreme type of acne. I actually had a teacher once tell me “You think I’m listening to you when you’re talking to me? I’m just staring at all the acne on your face. You kids need to wash your faces.” That was so crushing to hear and just overall a really harsh thing to say to a 12 year old. But you know, I wish it was as simple as that. I tried so many soaps like Clean and Clear, Proactive, apricot scrubs, even a sugar scrub. Those cleansers either did nothing for me or they just aggravated my acne more. I also tried tea bags and toothpaste on my face, all home remedies that many people swore by. I was willing to try anything, no matter how painful. I cried many times throughout these different treatments because a lot of the time they hurt so much and it was so frustrating that none of them even worked. So after trying everything we possibly could have, my mom took me to a dermatologist.
You see the thing is that bacteria can become antibiotic resistant. They get used to that antibiotic and learn how to become stronger so that it no longer works on them. (I’m not sure if I’m getting that explanation 100% right but based on my research, that’s how I understand it.) That’s exactly what happened to me. After being on my antibiotics for 2 years, my body became resistant to it. It no longer worked and my acne came back stronger than ever. (The pictures you’re seeing above are not even the actual acne ones, those are just the scars. So imagine all those scars, plus oozing puss, redness, and lumps and bumps all along my jaw and neck. It was not a pretty sight.) At this point, my doctor thought to prescribe me with an even stronger antibiotic. I would have to take it two times a day and the side effects for that one would be: yellow teeth, blue skin, dizziness, and fainting, just to name a few. I am not even joking, those were the actual side effects. So I thought to myself, I may end up up looking ugly with all these side effects but at least I’ll be acne free right? That is a huge joke if you could not tell 😂 So even though I was reluctant, I decided to give it a try. I literally took 3 doses of that medication before those side effects started kicking in. I started to feel dizzy while walking to school, going up and down the stairs, and getting onto the bus. It was to the point that I almost fell several times in one day and it felt like it was out of my control, like I wouldn’t be able to stop my body if it began to fall. So after that, I realized I needed to find a different solution. I just couldn’t keep getting on stronger and stronger antibiotics each time they stopped working and I didn’t like the fact that there seemed to be no end in sight when it came to taking all these medications. I knew that couldn’t be healthy, especially long-term. So I began my search for a holistic approach to solving my acne once and for all.
Through my research, I learned just how harmful antibiotics are to our gut and overall health. I learned how your gut’s health really impacts every other function in your body so if it’s not healthy, then you won’t be either. I also learned how you shouldn’t be on antibiotics for no more than 2 weeks. I was on them for 2 years and my doctor wanted to continue with that regime even longer! I don’t know why she would be OK with having me take them for so long. I trusted her though and did exactly as she said with no question (I was only 12 so can you really blame me?) Looking back, I really think that it was my unhealthy diet that started my acne in the first place but I think taking the antibiotics exasperated the problem even more so that it took a whole lot more work to heal myself by the time I had finished the antibiotics after those few years. So once I knew I needed to make a whole lifestyle change to heal my gut and thus cure my acne, I looked into how I could go about doing that.
I believe at that point I had leaky gut syndrome especially with all the abuse my gut had gone through with years of antibiotic use. Many sources said to heal leaky gut, you would have to remove dairy and gluten from your diet since they just caused more inflammation, so I did. After removing the inflammation causing foods, I learned that I needed to also be sure to restore my gut’s healthy microbiome with a bunch of probiotics. So I took supplements, drank kombucha and apple cider vinegar, and just about took every gut loving thing I could while at the same time avoiding anything that caused inflammation like processed foods and keeping sugar to a minimum. Doing these things helped me to finally get rid of my acne. But I was still left with the scars you see above for years later. So how did I finally get rid of those?
I’ll save you a lot of time and money of having to do your own research and I’ll fast forward you to the products that truly worked for me. I finally found the cleanser that worked for me: Cetaphil. It’s specifically designed for people with sensitive skin and my skin adores it! I’ll try different cleansers from time to time just out of curiosity and to see if there’s anything better out there, but right away I’ll just start breaking out. For some reason my skin just really loves Cetaphil so I stick with that. (I’ll link all these products below for you guys so you know just where to get them.)
Next, buying an exfoliating brush for my face (along with a massage head) really helped to smooth out the lumpy texture my skin once had. My face really responded well to a cheap $4 brush I found at Marshall’s. I noticed that every time I would massage my face, my scars would smooth out, to the point that I don’t have them anymore. I would apply a good amount of pressure to my face while I was doing this to bring some blood flow and redness to my skin (but not so much that it hurts). In the beginning, I would massage for 60 seconds everyday. But once I realized I didn’t need it as much, I just did it for less and less time. Massaging my face is what got rid of my bumpy texture for sure. It helped to soften and smooth my skin. It was a huge game changer!
Another important item was Rosehip oil. That helped to get rid of the discoloration on my face. Keep in mind though that with these things, you need to give them time. I would say it took about 3 months to notice a huge difference with the discoloration. So just keep at it. At least you know that it will work, you just need to give it some time and make sure you’re buying a quality oil (not one from the dollar store). I would drench my face in oil every night (I still do, especially to help prevent any fine lines and wrinkles.) But don’t worry if you have oily skin, because I do too and I still put oil on my face. Putting oil on your face does not cause more acne, that’s just a myth and I’m living proof of that. It was actually when I avoided any oil in my face products when I would have tiny breakouts all over. Keeping my skin dry just exasperated my acne. Your skin needs moisture so don’t be scared to give it some. Just try it and see how it works for you.
Another game changer was witch hazel. Witch hazel really helped to reduce the appearance of my pores. They used to be huge! But wiping my face with witch hazel day and night helped to tighten the look of my skin. My mom was even shocked when she saw my face without any makeup and realized just how tight my skin was looking. By using witch hazel, it’s helped my face to look pore less (as if I’m wearing foundation). I also notice that using witch hazel helps to keep breakouts at bay. It’s only when I’m not using it (or have just eaten really bad the day prior) when I’ll actually breakout. So witch hazel is a must. It’s a staple that I still use to this day.
So that is the complete guide to how I finally got rid of my cystic acne and all the scars that came along with it. It literally took me years and years to finally get the smooth, clear skin I have today (10 years to be exact)! I think what took the most time was trial and error; just having to try so many different things to get to the root cause of my problems and see what worked for me. But hopefully with me condensing what I’ve learned during all that time into one blog post, your journey to clear skin will be a lot faster than mine was. I still think you may have to tweak your regime here and there to suite your personal skin type and see what your body responds best to. But I still think you’ll get there a whole lot faster than I did😂 I think really understanding inflammation and how your body responds to it is key.
We need to be healthy internally in order for that glow and radiance to project from our skin. I think it would be in vain to religiously stick to a skincare regime while at the same time continue to eat junk and processed foods. Your body will not be tricked. The true answer to clear skin is eating healthy. You may have to play around with foods to see what agrees with your body and what may be triggering your acne. For example, maybe you can’t do dairy (or at least not a lot of it) whereas maybe your friend can eat all the dairy in the world and still have beautiful skin. Everyone’s body is different so you’ll just have to play detective and see how your body responds to foods. What may be healthy for one person may cause irritable bowels for another. Just play around with it, see what works for you, and maybe use this guide to help you on your journey to clear skin. I honestly thought I was eating healthy at the time and you may feel that way too. But if your skin is so irritated and inflamed, there’s something going on that your body does not like and it’s trying to let you know.
I hope this article is able to help you guys save a whole lot of time. If you liked it, please give it a like down below and let me know what you thought of it. Are you currently trying to clear up your acne or is it something you once struggled with? I’d love to hear from you!
- Cetaphil- https://www.amazon.com/Cetaphil-Gentle-Cleanser-Types-Ounce/dp/B07GC74LL5/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=cetaphil&qid=1590380998&sr=8-5
- Rosehip Oil- https://www.amazon.com/Radha-Beauty-Certified-Organic-Rosehip/dp/B00LNOV8JO/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=rosehip+oil&qid=1590381118&sr=8-8
- Massage Brush- (the one I originally used had hard bristles for the massage head but this was the closest match I could find on Amazon) https://www.amazon.com/Face-Brush-Cleansing-Exfoliating-Exfoliation/dp/B07TFH7RKZ/ref=sr_1_257?crid=9QMP2MAQ3NE2&dchild=1&keywords=face+brushes+for+cleansing+and+exfoliating&qid=1590381527&sprefix=face+%2Caps%2C287&sr=8-257
Till next time,