When my most noticeable accessory was my acne

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Adult acne hit me in my late 30's and I was so annoyed.

As a teenager I'd been lucky enough to escape the dreaded 'zit face'. It seemed so unfair to be experiencing it in later life. I should be worrying about wrinkles, not waking up with yet another blemish.

Just as one spot started to disappear, two more would appear, it got to the point that I was never spot free. I had a constant stream spots on my forehead, lower cheeks and chin. When this had been going on for a few months or so, I decided to talk to my GP about it.

I was told that my diet wouldn't be the cause (without being asked a single question about my diet), 'what you eat has no impact on your skin' she said. I was asked about my periods (normal) and, even though I'd hardly ever suffered with a monthly hormonal eruption before, the matter was quickly dismissed as 'hormonal'.

The fact is, I felt ridiculous, embarrassed, out of control. I felt like a failure.

Make up didn't cover my blemishes, most of the time it made them look worse, almost highlighting them. I found I was wearing less and less make up, I began to feel less and less like 'me', mascara was about as much as I could manage without feeling like a freak.

If I tried blusher or lippy the phrase 'putting lipstick on a pig' would pop into my head and I'd wipe it all off.

I avoided going out, and felt terribly self conscious if I did.

Worst of all I tried to hide my face from Andy, literally trying to hide behind my hair or turning away from him.

I knew I needed to do something before this began to rule (and ruin) my life. So I did what I always do in situations when I need advice, I turned to the internet.

I started at the NHS website but this proved to be about as helpful as my Doctor had been.

Then I read a few articles that pointed to my diet as the cause of the problem.

If you'd asked me about my diet I'd have said 'generally healthy but could do with some improvement'. But I'd just started working from home and my daily routine was all out of whack.

Those first few months of being self employed were enjoyable but also terrifying. I was running on adrenaline. I often skipped breakfast, couldn't be bothered to make lunch (I'd grab a packet of crisps and, very occasionally, an apple), evening meals were quick - pasta and sauce from a pot, maybe some broccoli, or perhaps a handful of pre-packed salad, all-in-all I was eating very little and nothing of nutritional value.

I wasn't drinking enough either, I'd often find myself sat at my desk mid afternoon feeling thirsty, I'd realise that other than my normal first-thing-in-the-morning cuppa I hadn't had anything to drink all day. In the evening I'd sink into the sofa to relax with a glass of wine.

Basically, without going into too much detail, because I wasn't giving my body the nourishment and hydration it needed, my digestive system was functioning properly. The toxins in my body weren't being expelled efficiently. My body looked for alternative ways to rid itself of the toxins. It's answer was acne.

I can't find the article I read but, if you want the gist, this is pretty much the same.

It was clear that I needed to hydrate and nourish my body. So I started to make sure that I ate three meals a day, I cooked from scratch more often, ate my five-a-day. I significantly upped my fluid intake. I limited crisps, chocolate and processed foods, I cut back on alcohol too.

In time this started to have the desired effect. My skin looked clearer and I began to relax and feel like me again.

I still get the occasional spot and now I can pinpoint why. I discovered that the area a spot appears on your face can indicate the cause. Most recently I had one on my right cheek, bit of a doozy actually, but I could tell that it had been because I'd been giving in to my sweet tooth and scoffing way too much chocolate. So I simply stopped eating chocolate for a while, cut out sugary foods, and when I ate chocolate again, I did so in moderation.

These days I try not to stress too much about any occasional spots, I know what I have to do to prevent them. Whilst they are still annoying, I feel more in control. I see it as my body telling me off for not looking after myself properly.

My stumbling block was being told that my diet wouldn't be a factor. I was busy, preoccupied, so I hadn't made the connection myself. Eating more healthily is what reduced my acne to an occasional spot, because it allowed my body to function properly.

The picture at the top of this post is a favourite of mine, Socks looks so cute. It was my Facebook and Twitter profile picture for ages but sometimes I look at this photo I think to myself 'I was spotty then'. Not because I can see them in the photograph, but because I can remember them.

There are no photos in existence that show my skin at it's worst. I avoided cameras at all costs.

But I couldn't resist this selfie with Socks, my skin had improved significantly by this point and I knew that a little cropping and a good Instagram filter would hide any remaining blemishes and red patches (oh how I love a good filter!), but it doesn't completely erase the memory of how I felt about my skin when it was taken.

You may wonder why I chose to share this with the world, when I hid my face from my nearest and dearest at the time. The reason is that I wish I'd read a post like this when I was in the thick of it. I honestly thought that going to my GP would be the most sensible thing to do but as it turns out, she was no help at all.

I know there are other causes of adult acne, I know that some people suffer a great deal more than I have, but there seems to be so much information out there saying that diet isn't a factor, when, for some, it clearly is.

At the end of the day my acne was my fault, it was caused by me, by my awful diet, but knowing that meant I could make the changes needed to make a difference.

(Day 10 of blogging everyday for 40 days)

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  1. i know that I don't eat enough, or drink enough water and I'm really hopeless at improving on that.

    1. Sometimes eating and drinking seem less important than everything else going on in life, which I know is ridiculous as they are essential to life, but it's so easy to get engrossed in other things and give it little thought.
      I have to constantly remind myself to make it a priority, meal planning helps but sometimes I do slip.

  2. This is briliant! I often get a 'spot' or two, though I haven't had acne, I'm very glad about that, but I do feel 'dirty' when I have spots!x

    1. It's awful, it make you feel so out of control and, yes, 'dirty'. I'm so glad I managed to find a way to deal with it.

  3. My mum always says that diet has no impact on skin - maybe it's a different generation/different education thing?! To be honest though, mine seems to be a mixture of hormones and eating badly - when I eat junk I notice it on my face a week later, but I'm prone to spots at certain times of the month more than others... Maybe I'll just blame being a woman so I don't have to kick my love of cheese ;) Well done for cleaning up your diet and figuring out the issues, I know I need to take your advice but I find it so hard to stick at it.

    1. I find it hard too stick to at times but then spots return and I'm right back on the 'no junk' bandwagon!

  4. I suffer the same unfortunately, horrible acne on my lower chin/cheeks. I got so fed up I went to the doctor (having tried changing my food, eliminating wheat and sugar) and was put on a course of Erythromycin, an anti-inflammatory antibiotic. It has worked and I am so pleased, however the moment I stop taking it, the acne comes back. Not thrilled at the thought of a lifetime on what are essentially antibiotics! It's horrible :-(

    1. I'm glad that the medication is helping but I can see that a lifetime of it is not a nice prospect.
      Have you tried eliminating dairy? I've heard a lot of people see an improvement when cutting back or cutting it out completely.


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