My spots and me

I’ve had spots since a very young age. As soon as the earliest signs of puberty started, along came the blemishes on my face. Now, at 34 years of age, it’s wearing thin.

At age 30 I said “enough is enough”. The spots were particularly bad along my jawline and they never went away. As soon as one crop started to heal, another lot appeared. I went to my GP and told him I was sick to death of it. I eat plenty of fruit and veg, drink lots of water, wear minimal make-up, don’t smoke, rarely drink. It’s just not fair!

He prescribed Duac gel. It’s a mild antibiotic face cream. It has to be kept in the fridge and applied sparingly at night. I used it for a year. It’s the only thing that actually worked. I had wonderfully clear skin and smaller pores. The drawback? It bleached my pyjamas and pillowcases. That’s fairly annoying in myself but it also made me aware that I was essentially putting bleach on my face. Plus if I stopped using it, the spots came back. It wasn’t a cure. And I really didn’t want to have to put this stuff onto my skin forever. I said all this to my GP. He said my acne was relatively mild and he wasn’t really forthcoming with any other advice or options. It felt as if I’d have to suck it up and get on with it.

 

Beardy weirdy

After the birth of my second baby, I noticed that my facial hair seemed to be taking on a life of its own. It’s most noticeable on my top lip and along my jawline. I’ve started plucking the odd hair that appears under my chin. This really is rock bottom. It’s affecting my confidence and making me feel crap about myself. It took years of counselling for me to feel happy and content with myself. I can feel this chipping away at all that hard work.

My gut feeling is that it’s something hormonal or hereditary. I can remember my mum having spots in her 30s, when I was young. Maybe I just got unlucky and inherited it from her? I always seem to break out after a stressful day or when I’m worried about something. But my first thought was PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). The symptoms certainly seemed to point that way. I had blood tests and an ultrasound scan. All clear. Another dead end and still no solution.

 

Lotions and potions

I’ve tried all sorts of high street lotions and potions. Cleansers, serums, moisturisers. Tea tree oil, witch hazel, oil free. Day creams, night creams, Sudocrem, TCP. Been there, done that. A friend suggested using gentler cosmetic products and sent me a tube of Aveeno moisturiser. I also switched to Cetaphil cleanser. I’ve been using those for nearly a year. I like them. They don’t sting like some astringent products do. But there’s been no improvement to my skin that I can see. These are the only products I use on my skin now:

image

 

My face

Last year I cut out caffeine and fizzy pop. It hasn’t made any difference but I stick to it because I know it’s healthier. Next on my list is to find a decent breakfast cereal with less sugar in it. Fewer biscuits wouldn’t hurt too.

So FOUR YEARS after first going to my doctor about my skin, I am no better off. Brace yourself. I’m going to show you my face. First thing in the morning. No make-up.

image

I haven’t even brushed my hair! You can’t really see my bushy moustache in these pictures. The lighting was wrong. But it’s definitely there. But this is nearly a week after finishing my period and I’m looking pretty scabby. This morning I’ve woken up with a new spot on my jawline and a big one on my cheekbone. This is fairly average for me. You get the idea…

image

 

Ditching Dairy

Out of sheer frustration I tweeted about it yesterday. A couple of people mentioned an improvement with their skin after going dairy free. Hmm. I was immediately sceptical. Dairy is a vital food group, especially for women. Too little calcium and other vitamins can cause osteoporosis later in life. I don’t eat huge amounts dairy anyway – cows’ milk on my breakfast cereal is my main source, a splash in one or two decaf coffees each day, butter on my toast, the occasional bit of cheese. I’m not hugely keen on yoghurt and only eat one now and then.

Having had problems with disordered eating in the past, I’m always very wary of cutting out any food groups. It can be a huge trigger and a slippery slope for people like me. But I need to do something. I can’t carry on like this.

The kind Twitter peeps explained about cows’ milk alternatives – soya, almond, coconut, oat and rice milk; dairy free spreads. They’re fortified with all the nutrients I’d get from ‘normal’ dairy. I was handed a sample shot of soya milk in a supermarket once. It was like drinking liquid grass. Blurgh. So soya was definitely out. I had a trip to the supermarket and stared at the dairy alternatives aisle for a while. These are the products I picked to try:

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And an olive-based dairy free spread too:

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So I’m going dairy free. Admittedly I won’t be checking ready made convenience foods for dairy. I just can’t be bothered. But hopefully by drastically reducing my dairy intake, I’ll get an idea of whether it’s likely to make any difference.

Honestly? I’m still sceptical. Nothing has worked so far in the last 25 years of having spots. Why will this be any different? But I’m throwing this out there so that I can keep you updated and compare my ‘before’ photos with some ‘after’ shots later on. Watch this space!

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12 thoughts on “My spots and me

  1. Tea and Crumpets (@ladyemsy) January 29, 2015 at 08:04 Reply

    Aw Lucy I think you’re gorgeous but these things can bring you down. I have psoriasis on my arms and legs and head so I know how you feel, in a way. I did cut out dairy once and my skin did improve, but I really couldn’t live a life without cheese. That said I think there is greater choice nowadays for dairy, gluten etc free products. I liked rice dream milk, in case you fancied trying it. I hope you find a solution that works for you, will be interested to see how you get on x x

    • The Pie Patch January 29, 2015 at 08:09 Reply

      Thank you. My nan (on my mum’s side) & my dad both suffer with psoriasis. My dad’s is quite mild but my nan’s was terrible, so I understand how miserable that can be. My sister suffers with eczema too & I’m sure I have a touch of rosacea along with the spots. So maybe we just have crappy skin genes in my family?! I’ll keep you updated with how it goes anyway. Thanks for commenting!

  2. tanzilc January 29, 2015 at 09:50 Reply

    I hope it helps, anything that nocks your confidence is not good, I would recommend you try provitamol oat milk and vanilla rice milk, they are the only reason we can stick at dairy free, so many people have hidden allergies to dairy but have no idea because their symptoms can be different, my symptoms are asthma and rhinitis, I suffered for nearly my whole life unaware, when I found out about it spots was one of the other common symptoms people did not know was a dairy allergy, so I will keep my fingers crossed for you for the next 7 days that you have found the cause, dairy free is easier than I thought, once you discover oat milk coffee, heat 1 cup of the oat milk and add coffee and sugar, sooooo yummy, just don’t try a normal coffee with a splash of alternative milk, yuck! xx

    • The Pie Patch January 29, 2015 at 09:54 Reply

      Great tip about the coffee! I’ve been struggling with that. Thank you.

  3. tinabakesbread January 29, 2015 at 12:20 Reply

    You never know, you may have had a lactose intolerance or slight allergy all along. Here is an example, my husband took Orilosec for acid reflux for over 10 years but decided he didn’t want to keep taking it. After much experimenting, it was discovered wheat & gluten gave him the reflux. We eat gluten free and he is heartburn free. If cutting out dairy does not work try cutting out wheat for at least 10 days. It took that long to get out of the system.

    That’s a hard one to cut out as we liked bread 😤

    • The Pie Patch January 29, 2015 at 12:35 Reply

      That’s interesting! As I said, I’m really reluctant to mess about with my food because I’ve had issues with it in the past. So at this stage I’m treading carefully but we’ll see how it goes!

  4. Nik Wilkin January 29, 2015 at 13:31 Reply

    Im right there with ya. Im 27 and up until about the 23rd Dec I was a spotty mess (for some reason never shows up in pictures though!)
    Until a certain lady suggested maybe I should stop fighting the spots with spot creams and the like and try using facial care for dry skin instead. Turns out Im an idiot and I was drying my skin out further, making it produce more oil and making me terribly spotty. Within 2 weeks my skin was almost clear. But then Im a naughty hobbitses and sometimes forget the cleansing and moisturising routine and go to bed with makeup on. Im getting there though 🙂
    There is light at the end of the tunnel! and no matter what your face is gorgeous ❤ :*

    • The Pie Patch January 29, 2015 at 13:43 Reply

      Aw, thank you. I’m so glad you found a solution! I always cleanse before bed, moisturise every morning & wear very little make-up in the day time, so I don’t think it could be that in my case. But it’s good to hear that there are answers out there & it’s not necessarily something we just have to put up with. 😊

  5. Rachelle Strauss January 29, 2015 at 16:12 Reply

    Good luck (and I agree with the others; you’re beautiful as you are). My DD has very spotty skin – back in Sept I challenged her to a two month sugar free diet and I can’t tell you the HUGE difference in her skin. So if dairy doesn’t make any difference, it might be worth trying sugar next (I’m meaning the refined white stuff – I made things with honey and coconut sugar instead).

    • The Pie Patch January 29, 2015 at 16:15 Reply

      Thanks, Rachelle. I suspect sugar is probably an issue too, which is why I gave up fizzy pop last year. I used to have 2 in my coffee but cut back to 1. But it’s the sugar hidden in everything else I need to tackle next.

  6. jules February 1, 2015 at 07:14 Reply

    I think you look lovely but best of luck on your dairy free journey. I was reading about some of the health benefits of going dairy free. It makes an interesting read. I’m looking forward to finding out how you get on. X

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