Pregnancy and acne update

Hello!

I wanted to update you on the acne situation as being pregnant my options have been limited but I feel like I have made significant progress!

However, in the 2 weeks since I posted things got much worse before they started getting better:

20130127-091308.jpg

There was so much pain and swelling it was affecting sleeping, eating and talking. The infection got so bad a huge lymph node appeared under my chin – i didn’t even know we had lymph nodes there. I had to stay home from work for 2 days as at this point all I was doing was applying a tea tree oil compress 3 times a day and I couldn’t do that at work. Plus make up was just making it worse and the removal of it almost impossible without making it bleed. There was no way I was going to work with no make up on.

I did pluck up the courage to go to my pregnancy yoga class as I was feeling so low about being stuck in the house and just forced myself to get out. It was really hard as I had only been once and didn’t know anyone and was just mortified about my skin. I felt I had to bring it up so when we went around and did names and how we were feeling I talked about it and it was really good to talk with them so I was glad I went.

I knew I could not continue as I was and I needed to take more drastic action. I could not see how I could go another day feeling so down and in pain. So after much reading on the internet and particularly Tracy McCullough’s blog and ebook I decided to radically change my diet by removing gluten and diary completely. So no bread, pasta, biscuits, milk, cheese, yogurts etc. plus a whole host of other foods that have gluten and diary in them. Previously I have cut sugar and gluten out of my diet which cleared my skin up completely.

My main concern was getting enough calcium for baby, but actually our calcium requirements are the same when pregnant – 1000mg a day. And calcium doesn’t come from diary exclusively, it’s a mineral that comes from the ground and is found in green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts and fish. So actually getting my 1000mg has just meant eating extra healthy which is no bad thing at the moment.

Tracy’s book explains really well the impact of diary and gluten on your hormones. I don’t think i’m allergic to them as such but i do think by eliminating them completely its allowing my hormones to settle and for my body to fight the infection.

It’s definitely helping! It’s been over 10 days now and the swelling and pain is almost completely gone. I still have a long way to go but I am so encouraged that it’s going in the right direction without having to resort to antibiotics while pregnant.

Me on Weds, 10 days after changing diet:

20130127-091532.jpg

I haven’t found the diet that hard, I think because I like all foods so i will happily eat veg, meat, fish, fruit, brown rice, rice cakes, oats, nuts and seeds and haven’t had an issue with variety or snacks which are so important to me at the moment!

My main snacks are:
Fruit
Nuts with dried fruit or seeds
Oat cakes or Rice cakes with marmite or peanut butter on

Very occasional treats:
Nairns Oat ginger biscuits
Kettle chips with salsa or guacamole dip – these are the only gluten free crisps i can find.
Bessant & drury coconut milk ice cream – available from Waitrose

I have bought some gluten free pasta and bread but I haven’t really needed to eat it.

I am also avoiding sugar as much as possible so no sweets for me but I have definitely become more of a savoury person since being pregnant.

At the yoga class the teacher recommended a homeopath who mostly treats pregnant woman, I saw her on saturday and received a remedy from her today so I am hoping that also helps get things cleared up. She prescribed Sulphur 30 for 7 days, then a week off and take for another 7 days. I will post an update after my 1st 7 days. I am not sure what I think of homeopathy, I am very open to most things and thought I would try it. It’s safe in pregnancy which is the main thing.

She also gave me some calendula 5% cream which is helping soothe it as the tea tree oil i very drying (and I am diluting it loads) I have given the tea tree oil a break for now. Other than that I have stripped my skin care back to the bare basics for now and just focusing on cleansing really well morning and night.

Will keep you posted!

Lou x.

Pregnany and Acne

I’m 16 weeks pregnant!! Absolutely so completely over the moon. I feel incredibly fortunate to have fallen pregnant with all the issues that PCOS brings. I might write a separate post about TTC etc.

However, 2 weeks ago my skin went crazy…..

20130110-190705.jpg

Hoping you can see the picture above as this is my first time posting from an iphone.

It’s really red, painful, very infected, scabby and pussy.

I have had outbreaks this severe before but usually concentrated in one area like my chin or one cheek but this time I am getting it across my left cheek, chin and one large pustule on my left cheek which I suspect may spread. My forehead has broken out but not to the same extent.

And there was me thinking pregnancy would “cure” my PCOS!! According to a few websites if you were acne prone anyway then pregnancy can exacerbate it unfortunately. I thought it would be the opposite.

Last time I had a bad out break and I saw the dermotologist – it was about a year ago – he suggested seeing Professor Tony Chu at The West London Dermatology Centre as they offer a specific treatment called Regenlite which has had some proven success.

I rang the West London Dermatology Centre to get an appointment and they said as I am pregnant only Pro. chu is licensed to give the treatment. While there are other dermatologists available I couldn’t get in to see Pro Chu until March, I can’t wait that long! But he also works at Hammersmith hospital and takes private patients there so I rang there and he has appointments free at the end of Jan. Luckily my private health has agreed to fund one consultation and any blood tests but will not cover any treatment. My parents have offered to pay for the treatment. I suspect they may not offer Regenlite at the hammersmith but I am hoping Pro chi can just then get me booked in for the treatment at the clinic.

In the meantime I have cut wheat and gluten from my diet. I’m trying to reduce sugar but there is very little in my diet anyway. I would try giving up diary but I don’t feel I would get enough calcium from the rest of my diet when pregnant. Making diet changes has worked for me previously.

Otherwise I am just keeping my skin clean when in the house and applying a flannel soaked in diluted tea tree oil in the evenings. I am not doing any masks as it bleeds when I have to clean them off.

On a happier note they say boys cause more skin problems in pregnancy so maybe it’s a boy!

I will let you know how I get on! Any advice gratefully received!

Lou xx

Acne Fighting Tips: Face masks

Here are some face masks that I have found really effective in helping ease my acne…

 

  1. Green clay mask – fights infection
  2. Asprin facemask – helps reduce inflammation
  3. Manuka honey – promotes healing & helps scarring fade

 

I haven’t been using these lately and I have a bad outbreak now so I am committing to doing at least one daily to clear this current outbreak.  These really do help and are more natural & cheaper solutions to usual bought face masks.

Making these masks can be a messy business – I have found that using a simple pestle & motar to make them and keep the mess to a minimum

 

Green Clay Mask

This was recommended to me by my Naturopath as a way of reducing the infection and I was stunned by the results. Overnight my acne was less angry & it definitely reduced the infection.

Green clay is the main ingredient in a number of face masks so using a 100% green clay mask can be really effective.  It is very rich in natural minerals and is commonly used to reduce acne (just google green clay acne) .

I think the main thing for me is that is seems to act as an antiseptic. My big problem is the severity of my cystic acne and the infections which in the past have had to be controlled by constant use of antibiotics. Using this clay daily allowed me to come off the antibiotics a few years ago (combined with a change in diet & supplement taking which I will share on a separate post).

 

My naturopath recommended this specific bentonite green clay from Herba Naturelle:

http://www.herbanaturelle.info/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=bentonite+clay&x=30&y=9

Most recently I have also bought it here too  but the quantity is small: http://www.aranais.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=29&products_id=20

 

It comes in pure powder form so you have to mix it with water. 

Instructions:

  1. Add 1 teaspoon of clay powder into a small container (like I said above I now use my pestle & mortar but in the past I have used a small tuperware box, a mug & spoon etc, it really doesn’t matter just whatever you have to hand & is easy to wash up or put in dishwater)
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of warm water & mix together so it forms a paste – it’s basically a clay mask.
  3. Apply to your face directly. The above will make a large quantity of paste. I apply it really thick.
  4. Keep on for up to 30 minutes – often I only have it on for 10 minutes as I do not have time. But…
  5. ..DO NOT LET IT DRY! My naturopath never told me this & it was always difficult to remove when it dried.  But when I bought some recently from www.aranais.co.uk the lady that runs the website gave me specific instructions to keep the mask moist when on your face.  This improves the effectiveness s as well making it easier to remove

        You can keep your face mask moist a couple of  ways:

 

OR

 

  • If like me you don’t want to lie down, I always apply the mask really thick so I can just run my hands under the tap & then over the mask to keep it moist without taking much off. I do this every few minutes or when I feel it tightening on my face (a sign that it is drying)

When removing be gentle, I remove mine with a warm face cloth but I do not rub very hard and just take it off gradually.

 

If you only have a few spots then you could always make up a smaller quantity and apply just to the affected areas.

 

Aspirin face mask

This only really works with soluble aspirin which is widely available & cheap! I read about this online somewhere and decided to give it ago & it helped reduce the inflammation.

 Instructions:

1. Add 4 tablets to 2 teaspoons of water & let it dissolve or crunch it up so it disolves quicker.

2. Apply to your face, it will feel grainy like a scrub

3. I leave mine on for about 10 minutes until it’s dried.

4. Rinse off and as it has a scrub feeling I always rub it in a bit while washing off so it has the dual effect of also acting as an exfoliant

 

Manuka Honey face mask

Manuka honey is widely renowned for its healing benefits. I became aware of it when I was in New Xealand and they use it in lots of skin care products.

 

It is quite expensive which is the downside. There are different levels of “active” manuka honey ingredient. I use a Active 10 + and as I am from Essex i use Tiptree Manuka honey as it’s widely available but there are lots of brands to choose from in the health shop & their quality can be judged by the “active” score.

 

I only use a teaspoon so 1 jar really does last. It also tastes great in poridge!

 

I tend to mix it up so its easier to apply and leave it for 10+ minutes. It’s sticky but it definitely has helped my scarring fade & healing active spots.

 

Combined aspirin & manuka honey face mask

 

I have mixed soluble aspirin with the manuka honey instead of water for a 2 in 1 mask. You just need to crunch up the aspirin as you are mixing with the honey and it forms a paste.

 

Leave on for 10 or more minutes.

 

While writing this post I have applied all three of these (using aspirin & manuka together) and my acne is definately less inflamed and the redness between spots is lessened, it feels smoother and looks better. I just need to keep it up!

 

Let me know how you get on with these!

 

Olive oil cleanser

I have serious breakout at the moment, my skin is so infected right now and covered in cystic spots.

Cleansing is so important but I’ve been starting to dread it as no matter how gentle I am it results in scabs being lifted, lots of blood and usually lots of stinging.

I had been using Dermalogica ultra calming cleanser which claims to be better than water for sensitive skin but actually I have found it stings my skin and can leave it irritated.

Last night when going to bed, dreading the delicate procedure to come, I suddenly remembered about using olive oil as a cleanser. I am so glad I did. It glides on, no stinging, takes everything off but it doesn’t take scabs with it. If like me you rely on a lot of make up to make it through the day cleansing your skin thoroughly is important to give it the best chance of minimising breakouts and healing current ones.

Although you might think olive oil will make your face greasy it’s a known facial cleanser and soaks well into skin. I applied with cotton wool, ensuring all residue was removed by using my usual toner afterwards.

This morning my skin looks like it actually did some healing last night so I am sticking with my extra virgin olive oil for now and will let you know how I get on.

Will post more soon on acne remedies.

My PCOS acne story to date

This is the PCOS topic I can share the most advice on. I also think the acne advice here is for all acne sufferers not just those who have acne caused by PCOS.

Acne has been the single biggest PCOS symptom I have suffered to date (I’m hoping that sub-fertility is not the real BIG issue) . It’s also the symptom I’ve worked hardest get rid of.

I can remove excess hair (waxing).
I can dress for my shape (although I would like to be thin).
But acne has ruined my self-confidence and scarred my face. I HATE ACNE.

I’m pleased to report that right now my skin is the best it’s been in a long time. I have tried everything and I will share the best & the worst of it here with you.

Over the years I’ve taken photos of my skin, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing having never had a pimple before. Here is some of what I have contended with in the past few years:

It all started on my chin. I came off the pill (2005) and within a few weeks my chin took on a life of its own. Note the swelling on the bottom right – very painful deep cystic acne.

Chin acne after coming off The Pill

For a long time my chin was the only affected area but it then started on my cheeks:

Cheek acne

Acne seems to reoccur on my right cheek now and it’s rare for me to get a severe break out on my chin these days.

On 3 separate occasions (it’s become an annual event) a very deep swelling has developed on my right cheek around the same area each time . This seems to operate differently to my usual acne. It develops deep within the skin, fills with pus to create a massive red lump with no head until eventually it weeps and oozes out an extraordinary amount of pus and takes weeks to go down.  It never quite completely disappears and although not visible at the moment I can still feel a small lump under my skin (no doubt waiting for its next chance to erupt).

Deep reoccurring cyst

Sometimes I break out on my forehead. My most recent breakout  was forehead and right cheek combined:

Most recent breakout – forehead

Most recent breakout – right cheek

Here is my skin as of tonight (with no make up) – very clear for me but I have been left with scarring, marks and some pitting  but I find that they do fade over time. My skin does seem to heal well between breakouts and I am so grateful for that.

(sorry pic quality on my phone is not great)

Clear (ish) skin 02/12/11

Clear (ish) skin 02/12/11

I will dedicate much of this blog to sharing my experiences in managing my acne.

Can The Pill cause PCOS?

There is not enough research on the effects of taking The Pill on PCOS. Personally I think taking the pill had a huge impact on my hormonal development in my teens (I went on the pill at 16) and contributed, if not caused my PCOS. I had regular periods before I went on the pill. I was slim, I had no acne. I was healthy.

It is proven that The Pill causes insulin resistance – a big factor in PCOS, so WHY is the pill so widely prescribed to manage PCOS symptoms!!!

No periods for 2 years is NOT normal!

The first time I came off the pill (after about 4 years of being on it) I didn’t have a period for 2 whole years.

On my numerous visits to the GP they kept saying that this is normal for women when they come off the pill.

I now know this was the PCOS coming into play but it was never once mentioned & my non existent periods were never investigated.

Eventually after 2 years I actually went back on the pill as I was in a serious relationship and the doctor thought it would help “regulate” my periods!

The 2nd (and last) time I came off  the pill is documented here in my previous post

I have been pill free now for last 7 years and only in the last 2 years have my periods begun to establish any regularity. Overtime they have got closer together and now my cycle fluctuates between 28 – 37 days. I track my periods on my iphone app “period tracker lite” and the last 3 months they have average 30 days!