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Old 12-21-2003, 08:11 PM   #1
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idealist1976 HB User
acne, diet, hormones...my story

hello. just wanted to share "my story" with diet. i appreciate any feedback and words of encouragement. i'm 27 y/o female, 5'4", 110lbs and have had mild to moderate acne for the past 10 years (mostly moderate acne the past 5 years). i've tried anti-biotics, topicals, accutane (twice) on and off for the past 10 years.

i started the no simple carb diet in October 2003 (i eliminated bread, pasta, white rice, and simple sugar foods which is what i used to eat a lot of). first of all, it is SOOO hard to maintain this diet. i'm semi-vegetarian (occasionaly poultry only) and i've always been an extremely picky eater. so no matter how much fruit, nuts, and vegetables i eat, i always feel unsatiated.

the one thing i noticed after a couple weeks on the diet was the my SUPER oily skin was actually DRYER. my skin did clear up a bit too and so at the time i thought i had found the cure! of course, nothing is that simple

after two months on the diet, although my skin remained much less oily, i was still breaking out pretty bad. so i decided to go back on the pill (ortho tryclyin). this seems to be working in combo with the diet (i have been on and off of the pill over the past five years but always had a lousy diet so it never seemed to help). since starting the pill the acne is been very, very mild, not the usuall large, red painful, pustules i used to get.

this past week, i had the flu and the only thing that was easy on my stomach was "white flour products" and so i was eating a lot of bread and saltine crackers. after about a week on eating crap (that's how long i was sick for) my skin did get oiler and i started getting a lot of small pimples. so i'm trying to "cleanse" my system again, but it's so hard...i really love bread!

so i definitely think there is a connection btwn acne and simple carbs.

the main problem i have with this diet is the weight!!! before the diet i was about 120lbs which is still pretty underweight for 5'4'. now i'm about 110lbs. i would like to try those weight gainer drinks but they are full of crap that would probably bring back the acne. i tried eating high fat "healthy foods" like nuts, avacados, olives, but that's not working. if anyone can suggest something that would help me gain weight but not aggravate the acne that would be great.

does anyone know if there is a connection btwn low weight and acne? i've always been kind of underweight. i thought i read somewhere (maybe on the message board) that a low fat diet and low weight could cause acne. if anyone has any info on that, it would be greatly appreciated.

 
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Old 12-22-2003, 01:52 AM   #2
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Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

Hi,
Welcome to the board! First of all, your build is very similar to mine. I've always been underwieght and am currently 105lbs (average wieght since the age of 12 and I'm 23 now). Of course, I would have loved to have reached 120 (which is actually the avg. wieght for 5'4), but my metabolism just wouldn't allow it. =/
OK, so you've heard how carbohydrates are capable of making people gain wieight, right? You've also heard that carbohydrates can cause of host of diseases and hormonal disorders, right? One of the symptoms to these problems would of course be acne, as you've partially discovered. Based on what I've learned over the years, especially this past year, now that I think about it, it makes sense that I turned out to be at least on the thin side and with acne.

You see, carbohydrates can be good for us, but there are some that are also bad for us. Or MAYBE it's just because they aren't as "good and healthy" as they used to be, i.e. McDonalds, TV Dinners, Hydrogenated Oils, Refined Grains, etc. Either way you choose to debate this, if you get ENOUGH of an Insulin Rush in your system, it's going to cause problems.

I'm sure some people must be sick of hearing that, infact, I know people that are beyond annoyed and angry when they hear this, but I can't help it if it's the truth. =) There are acne sufferers that are overwieght and there are those that are underweight and probably of normal wieght as well. In fact there are acne sufferers with a combination of problems or no other (outwardly visible at least) problems. That's because Insulin Resistance can get your body any way YOUR body sees fit!

That's right, it does come down to genetics and your genetics will decide the type of problems your body will have as a result of all of this Insulin (or IGF-1). As such, it also usually comes down to having a healthy liver. It's rather interesting to see how many enzymes, proteins, vitamins, and hormones that rely on a healthy liver. If your liver is burdened in some way...too much glucose to produce, too much toxins, or a genetic/enzyme defect, you will eventually have problems. The problem or combination of problems that result from Insulin Resistance include:

High Cholesterol,
Dyslipidemia,
High Blood Pressure,
Heart Disease,
Obesity,
Type II Diabetes (90% of cases, sometimes Type I can result),
HyperAndrogenism (another name for Acne, Hirsuitism, etc),
Hyperovarianism,
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome),
Hyperthyroidism (possibly Hypothyroidism)
Hyperadrenalism
Hyperaldosteronism
Certain Cancers

Notice how some of these begin with Hyper? That's due to the IGF-1 and its role in the body to increase cell growth (cell proliferation). Cell growth is a Good thing, but too much due to overstimulation (enlarged sebum glands or tumors) and it's a VERY bad or even Deadly thing. Therefore, the list can actually go on. I could add to the fact that it increases skin cell proliferation, hyperkeritinzation, and increased sebum production, which of course we know ADD to our acne delimas. In fact, if you can just get those in control, why you use topical DHT inhibitors such as RetinA, Azelex, etc, or follow The Regimen or "The Acne Cure" (these work on the inflammation and proper skin cell shedding aspect), you will more than likely get clear skin, IF your problem, isn't that deeply rooted. However, for those of us that have one of the above problems (if you haven't visited an Endocrinologist you should), topical solutions just aren't good enough of a solution.

That's why liver cleanses work for some, as do certain supplements such as B5 (hits the cholesterol aspect of hormone production) and Saw Palmetto (natural anti-androgen). For others, they find that they need Birth Control (estrodial acts as an anti-androgen by increasing our SHBG which likes to bind to Male steriod Hormones) and/or another anti-androgen such as Spironolactone (accidently binds to androgen receptors). Of course, theres those of us that the above methods STILL didn't cut it and so we moved on to other drugs such as Insulin Sensitizers (Avandia, Metaformin) or Glucocorticoids (Dexamethosone) to help our body's hormones stabilize. Glucocorticoids, help to reduce inflammation and rebalance your adrenal glands (another source for steriod hormone production). Whereas, Insulin Sensitizers, help your body's cells take in MORE Glucose...although it's been debated that FORCING your body take in more glucose when it's already full (form of Insulin resistance) can actually cause more problems down the road (Type II diabetes or Type I Diabetes due to pancreas burn out).

Notice I said NOTHING about Antibiotics. The only reason these work is by preventing inflammation. In fact some of these, such as Minocycline and Tetracycline, actually Increase your DHT production! I guess that would explain why some acne sufferers, including myself, brokeout worse the ever before after stopping them. =( Out of all the treatments and supposed cures out there, I think that Antiboitics is the worst of them. It gives us all false hope into thinking that we have attained clear skin, when in fact upon stopping we realize that we haven't.

Then again, the same can be said for Accutane (temp. solution that works as an anti-androgen by decreasing IGF-1 levels) and practically any other solution, EXCEPT unlike certain antibiotics, they don't secretly increase our male hormones. If you are beyond puberty and find something that clears your skin, I can almost guarantee you will have to stay on this treatment or regimen for the rest of your life. Therefore, it's best to find the safest, healthiest, and most cost effective solutions out there, and that's where a change in diet comes in to play ;-)

Granted you can take supplements, or Birth controls, any prescription really, just as long as it works and you won't experience any negative side effects. If these things will cause you problems or you've discovered they don't work very well, that's actually when dietary changes became so popular. This was actually the last thing I did for myself, although for 10 years I avoided Chocolate and Soda with no results. I wasn't desperate, but I was EDUCATED and aware of my own hormonal condition and along with the testimonies of former sufferers, I took the plunge.

Heck by changing your diet once can reduce inflammation, reduce sebum, reduce/balance steriod hormones (especially those androgens), reduce IGF-1, and Increases SHBG (anti-androgenic) and IGFBP-3 (binds to IGF-1) and Prostaglandins among others so why not???

Last edited by SweetJade1; 12-23-2003 at 02:56 PM.

 
Old 12-22-2003, 02:08 AM   #3
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Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

to continue...

So like I mentioned before, I'm not surprised that I ended up being skinny and having acne. I tried to gain weight for years eating more carbohydrates (and protein) because I had heard how that would make you gain wieght. Except, right now it's not in my genetic makeup to gain weight (so I don't care as much). It turns out my mother had acne as bad as mine, body acne like me too and was skinny when she was younger and now she doesn't have acne, but she's a bit overwieght. She still eats the same foods, perhaps more so along the lines of unhealthy foods and she's definately a sugar addict. In fact, the majority of the women in her family are either overwieght or obese! Whereas, on my father's side of the family we've got a few (borderline) Diabetes Type II to deal with. So no wonder I turned out the way that I did ;-)


I've been dealing with acne for 16 years and I finally got a diagnosis over 2 years ago! After going through doctors, one nice dermatologist, and 2 other endocrinologists, I FINALLY hit the jackpot! I'm forever grateful to all of them, but this (3rd) Endocrinologist is the one that really helped me understand why the suggestion of low carbing, really should be much more emphasized. Granted he wanted me to stay on the Avandia (I didn't), but he freely admitted that my skin was doing really well after I had switched my diet =)

He dx me as being either PCOS or Insulin Resistant (same treatments) and since IR is the Precursor to PCOS and I don't really have those symptoms I just tell people I'm Insulin Resistant. There's actually 2 forms of Insulin Resistance, but I usually only stress the aftermath of these forms and never really explained the difference between the two. Did you know that within minutes of consuming too much glucose, your cells become insulin resistant??? That's right, you can become Insulin Resistant (IR) due to your diet being too HIGH in Glucose (why people low carbohydrate diet). When your cells become FULL of Glucose, they stop responding to the Insulin that's required for the entrance of More glucose. Furthermore, since your liver (and muscles) will also become insulin resistant, it starts to produce MORE Glucose as well. Thus further increasing your Blood Sugar levels, which, INCREASES your Insulin Levels. Therefore, lower your (high) glucose levels, and the cells will respond normally again, and Insulin resistance disappears. This is why it may not be wise for some people to take Insulin Sensitizing Drugs, because they may not be genetically prone to IR, but due to their lifestyle they have become so. Taking drugs that FORCE your cells to uptake more Glucose, theoretically can eventually make you a diabetic.

So, just to give things a bit more perspective, have you ever added up the amount of carbohydrates you eat in a day? Well if you were to follow the food pyramids suggestions and included a nice amount of junk food, those on the "Western Diet" would be consuming 200g - 800g of Carbohydrates a day! As a result of switching my diet, I currently consume 200g - 300g of carbohydrates a day, which is around the average (200g). So there's definately room for some form of low carbing for most people ;-) Unfortunately there are people that freak out over that because (the wrong) low carbohydrate dieting made them sick, but it's NOT about eating 30g (a box of raisens) - 50g of Carbs a day! It's SIMPLY about Lowering your EXCESSIVE amounts of carbohydrates and possibly the other foods that can also increase your Insulin Resistance or IGF-1 levels.


Now, the other way to become Insulin Resistant is due to your genetics or some form of nutrient difficiency or alteration. I'm still looking this part up, but I apparently there are genes that code for Altered Insulin, thus the body's cells don't recognize it Infact, this can be due to the consumption of Hydrogenated/Partially Hydrogenated Oils and Trans Fats. [url]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_u ids=8001841&dopt=Abstract[/url]

[url]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_u ids=7910281&dopt=Abstract[/url]

Also, Insulin Resistance is a natural part of puberty. Infact, Puberty is actually defined as "a state of Insulin Resistance". Therefore, anyone going through Puberty MUST enter "a state of Insulin Resistance" in order for the body to grow (sounds odd I know).
[url]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_u ids=10626552&dopt=Abstract[/url] (another accutane connection)
[url]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_u ids=12364479&dopt=Abstract[/url] [url]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_u ids=12112937&dopt=Abstract[/url]

So, my theory on this (based on collected facts) is that since Insulin (glucose isn't really the problem) is a KEY player in Steriod Hormone Synthesis (Estrogens, Androgens, and Progesterone) maybe the body signals the Insulin Receptor cells to deactivate in order to INCREASE these hormones so that we can have our Growth spurts and develop further as males and females (of course this can also screw up our development) during Puberty. To further expand on this, since Cholesterol (we need the fats, but bad fats?) is what Steriod Hormones are made from (think Testosterone) that could be why some of us Get acne (more cholesterol to produce testosterone, etc from) while others end up having High Cholesterol Levels or Being Overweight....because Insulin Resistance Increases all of these factors and your body decides which problem it would "prefer".

So let me say that again only a bit differenlty. Since Insulin Levels have also been connected to Leptin levels, Leptin is a proten that tells our brains to eat more so that we can have MORE fat cells, this would explain why 60% of the population in the U.S. are now considered Overwieght or Obese. OK, so that means that when we eat whatever we want, we are increasing the fats in our bodies, correct??? Except, some of us aren't overwieght, right? Perhaps that's because:

Our body says "hey, I don't want to be overwieght/obese, so I'm going to take these extra fats and turn them into cholesterol and just produce more steriod (male) hormones. Hence the BIRTH of a nice variety of Hormonal Disorders that have acne as a symptom...

Where as, other teenagers and adults bodies are saying, "hey, I don't want to be overwieght either so I'm just going to not do anything and I'll let these fats compete with sugar in the blood stream (why B5 works) and clog our arteries."

With that knowledge and more, I'm sure you can come up with other scenarios that explain why "you have acne, and 'Jane' doesn't" or why "you are underwieght and 'joe' is overweight". Regardless, finding the right Insulin Controlling-Hormonal Balancing diet that's also healthy for your nutritionally can work wonders. As you've noted, your skin is now dryer and that's probably due to the fact that you don't get enough EFA's in your system (is the rest of your skin dry?). I would suggest fish oils, but since your a vegetarian I'm not certain you'd want that. You can try consuming Flax Seed, Evening promrose oil and others to give you a Vegan EFA supply. That should take care of the dryness (did you know hydrogenated oils, Insulin, & certain food enzymes can cause EFA imbalance?) and may just improve your acne even more ;-)

Indeed, EFAs are in charge of producing prostaglandins, body's hormone balancers, and are also involved in helping balance our insulin levels as well as increasing the good prostaglandins involved in reducing inflammation (why I no longer suffer from menstrual cramps and all I did was stop eating most grains) . So taking 1 - 3 g max of this (especially Omega 3s) if you don't consume seafood, meats, is your best bet.

So tell me more about the diet you were on. I had no trouble following my diet (gluten free/low grain, and avoidance of peanuts, cashews, bananas, cherries, and soda), but of course, I'm not a vegetarian. So the ONLY foods you ate for two months were Vegetables, Nuts, Seeds??? No Diary? No Fruits? Fast Foods? Hmm, How clear did this get you? Were you consumng any of the other Intolerant Reaction/Inflammatory reducing foods (find a list in Perricone's acne prescription) such as Peanuts and Bananas??? You wouldn't believe what a difference eliminating additional (if they are a) PROBLEM foods will do for you. Some people don't have to and others like myself and several others around here had to do so in order to keep that cystic acne away.

Well anyway, that's all I've got for you. I hope I covered most of your questions and if you want food suggestions, medication suggestions and tests to ask your doctor about (if I can find that post) I can post those for you as well. Again, glad to see you here. There's so many knowledgeable people on here that I'm sure we'll help you figure things out. =)

Last edited by SweetJade1; 12-23-2003 at 03:00 PM.

 
Old 12-22-2003, 02:52 AM   #4
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nomoreacne HB User
Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

Hi. I used to have acne and I'm underweight. I'm 5 ft 7 inches and only weigh 110ibs.
I used to have cystic acne which I controlled by reducing my insulin spikes i.e balancing my grains with protein.
I also strenghened my liver with liver flushes and herbs.
Finally,retin A cleared up any minor pimples.
Eating regularly and more protein makes me put on a little weight. Exercise tones me up and I look less skinny.
But to be honest I'm happy the way I am. I feel at my most energetic when I'm this weight. My body doesn't put on weight. As long as I listen to my body and feel well I don't care how thin I am. Buying clothes can be a problem though!!

 
Old 12-22-2003, 06:47 AM   #5
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ErimusValidus HB User
Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

I wouldn't worry about being underweight. As long as you're not in any immediate danger from it, then having your ribs show is not a bad thing.

Thanks for all the information SweetJade - it's extremely insightful stuff and helps me better understand the causes of acne

 
Old 12-22-2003, 09:19 AM   #6
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thick skin HB User
Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

Add some weight-lifting to your regimine. You will love the results. Instead of feeling skinny or underweight, you will feel lean, sculpted, and strong. I used to be very thin (ballet dancer). I feel so feminine and fit having added the use of light weights.

 
Old 12-22-2003, 12:52 PM   #7
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Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

Great advice thick skin!

I am a female 5'4 115 pounds. I used to be 125 and ive lost 10 pounds since changing my diet! I liiked being on the thick side and i feel so thin now. i don't really like it. But my acne is cystal and i get some big red ones so i need to do something. In the past i've tried retin a, accutane and antibiotics. im doing the "acne cure diet regime" but it's hard for me to not eat bread so I've been eating wheat bread but no dairy, sugar or hydrogenated oils.

 
Old 12-22-2003, 02:20 PM   #8
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Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

hi, I have been on the boards since april 2003. My acne was getting worse and worse, (the proactiv solution was only a temp 2 yr solution.) So I went on accutane and Yasmin in July to get it under control, which it is

So anyway my point is I noticed that the majority of women on this board are on the thin side, myself too (coencidence) i think not. I tried the no carb/no fat thing. I did it for a couple of weeks. I lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks, and my period stopped for a month, acne increased 150%. So I went back to my normal eating, went on the drugs now I am happy, just my input. I was wondering why the women here aren't anywhere near 150+. Must be something with our bodies. I have always been underweight.


 
Old 12-22-2003, 07:00 PM   #9
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Smile Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

I'm 5'3" and 102lb. And you all think you have it bad lol.

 
Old 12-22-2003, 07:11 PM   #10
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SweetJade1 HB User
Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

Quote:
Originally Posted by Girlie19
I'm 5'3" and 102lb. And you all think you have it bad lol.

LOL, if we are going to make this an "underweight competition" then you need to know that my correct stats are that I'm 5'5 and 105lbs. What were you saying again? ;-)

 
Old 12-23-2003, 01:02 AM   #11
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Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

yes sweet jade your on top of this!when i have more time i gotta get back and ask you some questions.one thing i just read is overweight females fat contains more androgens or something on the lines of that.maybe you know more about this.see ya!

 
Old 12-23-2003, 07:14 AM   #12
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Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetJade1
LOL, if we are going to make this an "underweight competition" then you need to know that my correct stats are that I'm 5'5 and 105lbs. What were you saying again? ;-)
lol ok, you win! it sux being so skinny. i'm looking at victoria's secret catalog and i can't even find my hip size on the chart! i found my other meauserements in the smallest size.

 
Old 12-23-2003, 11:39 AM   #13
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Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

I am also a thin person...I always have been. And I also am a female who has problems with hormones. humm...I have heard about what joeh is talking about, because of the more fat in other women thier androgens are distributed...I don't want to sound like a dumbass, so, I'm going to ask my doctor about this tomorrow.

 
Old 12-26-2003, 08:22 PM   #14
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idealist1976 HB User
Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

sweetjade. thank you so much for all that information! sorry for the late reply. gosh where do i begin...

antibiotics: you are right! my acne does get worse when on mino and tetra. when i first when on tetra it worked for about a year or so, but then all of a sudden BOOM, my acne came back even worse. and then i noticed over the years when the derms would put me back on it always made it worse. this most recent time i tried mino for the first time, and it made it worse too.

PCOS: i HAVE been diagnosed with this by a GYN not an endricrinologist (but many people have advised me to see one so i think that i will do this soon). my periods were always very irregular but about 3 years ago it didn't come for like 3 months. they did hormone tests which they said were normal. but ultra sound revealed the "cysts" on my ovaries. on top of that the acne, thinning hair, fatigue. i hate taking any kind of medication so i've been on and off of ortho trycyclin for the past 5 years. i think this time i'll stick with it tough since it seems to be helping in combo with the diet. i have read articles about PCOS and how many of the symptoms get better with low-carb diet. a coworker of mine has PCOS (she is overweight, has fertility probs, but not really acne). she told me how when she went hard core low-carb her periods got regular...and she got pregnant! what i noticed since being on the low carb diet is that my periods are heavier. for the past five years, both on and off the pill, my period flow was soooo light and short. so to me, this is more evidence that the low-carb diet IS doing something.


you asked about my diet: my diet history is a super long story, so i'll spare you that but in a nut shell i've always been a super picky eater. i don't like any seafood or red meat, poultry is ok but i only eat sparingly. throughout high school ate a lot of pb&j, bagels, pizza, baked potatoes. throughout college i also ate a lot of instant rice and pasta. my CURRENT diet consisted of elimating: dairy, past, white rice, simple sugars like candy and pastries. what i'm eating a lot of NOW are fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, brown rice, nuts, and olives. at first i was using canned beans. but i heard the protein from caned beans is not as "pure" i switched to raw beans. initially i was eating bananas too but then i read how they can be an acne culprit so i cut that out. i was also eating soy products (milk, yogurt, and tofu) but just last week i read how soy can be a culprit too so i'm eliminating those as well. so as you can see, i'm pretty limited with what i can eat. i wish so much that i liked seafood, but i can't stand the smell or taste of it and never have (no fish, shrimp, lobster, NOTHING). i was taking primrose oil and flax seed oil, but i stopped. i get so paranoid as to what's working/what's not that i sometimes i just don't know what do to! but if you say they are good maybe i will go back on them.

you asked about dry skin. what i've noticed in addition to the less oil on my face is that my lips are often chapped and my hands seem dryer. i believe this is due to the lowcarb diet (man, i wish i had known this when i was younger i would have been a much happier person. my skin in high school, although i only had mild acne at the time, was like a GREASE PIT. minutes after washing, i'd be super oily already. i spent so much time and $ on face powder but all i had to do was cut down on the carbs!)

i've completely fallen of the diet this past week due to the holiday, and these past few days i'm paying for it with a lot of new pimples. but it's still not as bad as BEFORE i started the diet so i think eating sweets VERY sparingly would be ok. do you think that is the case?

sweetjade, what does your diet consist of? or maybe NOT consist of is a better question. is it just the Dr. Perricone diet? what supplements do you take?

 
Old 12-27-2003, 11:10 AM   #15
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Re: acne, diet, hormones...my story

well idealist, I have practically the exact same story, including the PCOS, Which my doctor believes is my problem (I'm getting my test results back and a sonagram soon, to find out for sure.) I have never done the lowcarb diet however. I just don't know how I could change my diet so radically. It is interesting to read your post about this though. Right now I'm taking spironolactone and so my skin is much drier. However, my skin used to be a grease pit as well. like idealist, Just 20 minutes after I'd wash my face, my skin would be shiny again.

Do any of you take supplements?

 
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