Sorry for the long initial post and thank you in advance for reading it and advice/suggestions. A lot of it might seem unnecessary, and it most likely is, but in order to get my entire history, I have to do it.
I'll try to divide it up in paragraphs and put bold section headings for your convenience.
You might think that this post doesn't belong to this forum, but trust me, it is relevant!
I'm 27 years old and been really healthy for the most part. I've always been active - hiking, biking, camping, kayaking etc. The only thing was that I smoked cigarettes and occasionally MJ, and drank lightly-moderately.
2 months before the start of my problem(s)
I was tired of smoking cigarettes and had wanted to quit for a long time. I had been doing intermittent fasting a few days prior and felt amazing - the mental clarity, focus, and general sense of accomplishment and well-being. I even worked out on an almost empty stomach and the results were great. So on May 21, 2013, I started taking cold showers exclusively. They were invigorating and compounded my happiness from intermittent fasting. Life was unbelievably good.
1 day before my problem
I went out kayaking with a friend of mine. I applied chemical sunscreen for probably 2nd or 3rd time in my life. Had weird chemicals like avobenzone, octy something etc. Kept up with cold showers and the next day....
Had a few pimples. It was July 7, 2013. Now I've *never*, well almost never had any problems with acne. I think in my entire life before this dreaded day, I had a grand total of 10 pimples my entire life. The acne problem has been going on since then and has caused me to get depressed and occasional suicidal thoughts (I know I won't ever do it, but it bothers me that I think of it). I think cold showers made the problem worse because I guess the chemicals from the sunscreen never got washed away. Instead, with the cold showers, they probably solidified and got lodged even firmer and deeper in my skin --- this is just a guess. You know how it goes, you want to blame something, anything when you have a problem. But I think it is the root cause(s) of all my problems. By the way, I still kept on with intermittent fasting and with not having enough time, I broke my fast with some frozen foods.
Failed solutions either because the solution sucked or I didn't do it right?
This is going to be a long section. Initially I thought that it will just go away and kept on cold showering but after a couple of weeks and new zits forming every day or every other day, I knew that this is going to be a full-on war.
In the beginning I tried 90% rubbing alcohol - bad idea. But you can't really blame my logic - take hot showers to open pores and then put rubbing alcohol to kill the bacteria. In hindsight, I think I should've gone with a lower strength. I might have cause unrepairable damage with such high alcohol concentration. Now my skin almost looks like snake's skin or how it would look like after skin graft transplant (I think corrugated is the word) without the redness...the texture looks like it.
Then came salicylic acid 2.5% and benzoyl peroxide 10% - The BP almost gave me chemical burns. Will never use it again. Salicylic acid did not give me problems, but never stopped the acne and cured my problems. I did give salicylic acid a few months to work. In the meantime, my forehead got really, really, really oily. I would go to the bathroom and wash my face with just water and honestly an hour later, it looked like I had enough oil to keep a lamp lit all night. Yuckkk!
Prescription medicines - I have kickass insurance and I felt like I had to go get checked up by a doctor and get a few prescriptions just in case. Got prescriptions and kept them in my drawer for a rainy day. Little did I know that it wasn't going to be a rainy day, but a freaking flood was coming.
So after about a month of me getting some prescriptions, one morning I discover 3-4 HUGE pimples. Bigger than I had ever seen on anyone, let alone myself. I think almost a tear let out when I saw it. I knew I had to get out some bigger guns for this.
OK, so I got prescriptions for doxycycline 150 or 100 mg twice a day for 2 weeks , topical clindamycin phosphate, and tretinoin 0.025% or 0.5%.
Honestly I can't say doxycycline was bad. It actually was really good. Those huge pimples went down like 80-90% in the first week. The second week didn't bring much improvement, but there wasn't much to improve upon. So, I wouldn't really called this a failed solution. But, I knew I couldn't be on it forever. I did have a lot of GI side effects, but I would plough through all of them. I would take it on an empty stomach because I read few studies that it was 20-30% more effective (don't remember the exact number but it was in that ball park) as absorbtion was impaired with food.
Topical clindamycin phosphate didn't really do anything. I used it while I was taking doxycycline but just quit using it after that. I never used retin-a and I still have the bottle I got from the pharmacy the day I went to the dermatologist just because I had read too many precautions were required for successful application.
I went back to smoking because I read that smokers had less acne than non-smokers (there is conflicting research on smoking and acne link). I thought that may be quitting smoking was causing my acne. Plus I felt defeated, depressed, suicidal from all the acne that I was having. It was a throwback to my fun days, sans being acne free. I still kept smoking because of the stress of all this.
What partially works like a charm
This goes on until mid December of 2013. I'm still thinking that the chemicals from the sunscreen caused my acne, and to this day I haven't been able to prove otherwise. Anyways, I was googling sunscreen and acne to find a correlation/causation and I stumble upon an article that claims zinc oxide works like a charm. So I go to Walgreens and got me a tube of calmoseptine (zinc oxide 20%). I'm relgious with the application to this day. It treats the symptoms but is not a cure. Eventually I just bought non-nano zinc oxide off of Amazon and just make my own sunscreen. It's real simple - 20% zinc oxide and 80% jojoba oil. I'm thinking of playing around with the ratio. My first bottle of calmoseptine is still there after 3 months of religous use so it was a nice investment that solves most of the problems.
What I am doing and trying over the last couple of months
I quit using soap on my face and adopted oil cleansing method starting mid-January of this year. I'm still playing arond with ratios and I get excited when I research new oils that supposedly help cure acne. No definite luck but I feel like it is improving my skin texture, acne somewhat. I started with jamaican black castor oil and jojoba oil. I played with a lot of different ratios and right now I'm settled at 80% jojoba oil and 20% black castor oil with ~3-4 drops of tea tree essential oil. I started with a 50-50 combination because I read that castor oil was good for oily skin and that it dries it out. But even with my current 80-20 ratio, I still had just as much of an oily forehead until I applied ACV topically. I'll have to play around with ratio again with this new discovery on ACV and settle on a ratio that works. As a side note, I tried 100% castor oil and 100% jojoba oil. Neither one it makes my acne worse and sadly, doesn't cure it either. They just seem to pop up at almost a constant rate, but overall, the trend is towards mild improvement.
I've been drinking bragg's apple cider vinegar diluted with water. I started drinking this on February 2014 and now am a fan. Drinking it is not a cure but I guess its helping somewhat/somehow? Besides acne, I think it is still very advantageous for my body. Its early days, but it is definitely a cure for my oily forehead that I mentioned before.
Towards the end of February, I started oil pulling with castor oil. I tried coconut oil, but it seemed to give me a few blackheads so now I just stick with castor oil. I have sesame oil too and I tried it a couple of times. I'll switch between castor and sesame. I did get an initial breakout but nothing too serious. The dental benefits have blown me out of the water. My tongue isn't white when I wake up, my gums feel strong, no plaque buildup, sensitivity of my teeth is virtually zero, and to top it all off, I think its bringing one of my dead tooth to life!!!!
On March 5, I started fermented cod liver oil and this stuff is supposed to be great. I think it is going to work like a charm but I'm still in the initial break out period which is getting complicated by me taking vitamineral green powder. This stuff has lots of plant products from the water and oceans. It doesn't list the iodine content, but 4734 mg of plants from water and ocean. I think the plants are spirulina & chlorella (3754 mg) plus kelp, lavar, dulse, bladderwack, alaria, nori (combine 980 mg). So I'm guessing a lot of iodine which is good. I seem to be getting acne that is not really raised, red, and burns. It feels like its irritating my skin. Now I've read about bromine acne but don't know for sure if what I'm getting right now is that or not. Or if it is just acne getting dug up by fermented cod liver oil. It is high in vitamin A, which is supposed to increase cell turnover (like accutane), and is bringing acne under the surface to the surface? Or may be a wicked combination of everything I'm doing? I don't know, but intuitively I feel like I need to keep doing this and slay this freaking acne demon.
My typical daily routine right now
Wake up, get started on oil pulling (20 minutes), apply the oil cleansing method oils (80% jojoba oil, 20% jamaican black castor oil), jump in the shower, get out, spit the oil from my mouth into the toilet, towel dry my entire body but the face, brush my teeth, apply a little bit of 40% apple cider vinegar to get rid of oily face, apply home-made sunscreen (20% zinc oxide, 80% jojoba oil), get dressed, drink diluted apple cider vinegar, eat a little bit of fermented cod liver oil (I take cod liver oil again with dinner), eat breakfast, and out the door. Before bed, I might just apply oil cleansing method oils but don't wash them and/or spot treatment with calmoseptine.
What is my unsused arsenal looking like?
If you've read all this, thank you and may God bless your heart!
I've got the following things in the mail. All of this will be delivered in 2 days --- thank you Amazon!!!
Pantothenic acid 500 mg for better fatty acid absorbtion/utilization. Have read very good reviews on it.
L-optizinc 30 mg for bromine detox induced by iodine, helping skin acne, immune function etc.
Theralacprobiotics for better colonization of my gut when candida or other virulent microorganism are gone.
Two stage vitamin C and B-complex for immune system, energy, help with detox, acne etc.
Vitamin K1, K2 (MKD 4 & MKD 7) - I might use this occasionally. I should be getting enough of it from fermented cod liver oil. I might even return it, not sure yet.
Collagen hydrolysate - read that it is great for skin, hair, nails etc. Also a superfood with ~90% protein content.
Vitamin E (d and not dl) - natural vitamin E for antioxidant effects, acne, and general well being.
J. Crow's Lugol's 2% iodine solution - Need the iodine after reading wonderful research on it. Thinking of starting very, very slow and need you all to advise me. By the way, by thyroid hormones are within the normal range, but have a few hypo symptoms.
L-carnitine - supposed to push fatty acids into mitochondria. Was recommended to take this along with pantothenic acid.
Chelated magnesium - Helps with a bromine detox and a whole lot of other stuff.
35% food grade hydrogen peroxide - Too many benefits to list. Excited about getting it in a couple of days.
Sea salt - supposed to help with bromine detox by doing salt flushes.
Bristle body brush - supposed to help with lymph circulation and detoxing in general?
Bamboo extract - highest concentration of silica and supposed to help with skin & hair.
N-acetyl cysteine 600 mg - supposed to help with bromide acne when doing detox with lugol's solution.
Biotin 600 mcg - Supposed to help with hair loss that mightinduced by pantothenic acid.
Trampoline - supposedly the best thing to get lymph circulation going and good, fun exercise.
MSM 1000 mg - supposedly great for hair and skin.
MMS - didn't buy it but have read great things about it everywhere. On the fence of trying it, but don't know if I should try it some other time or not. Any advice or suggestions?
Selenium - My n-acetyl cystein capsule has 25 mcg per capsule. I'll be taking 2 of those capsules and hence giving 50 mcg a day. I'm thinking that this might not be enough, but any idea how much I should take since I'm taking 2% lugol's? Like 100 mcg if you are taking 2 drops, 300 mcg if you're up to 6-7 drops etc? I read on .gov website that anything more than 400 mcg is toxic and cause hair loss? EDIT: I think I'm going to buy 200 mcg selenium.
Jarrow's adrenal fatigue - I think all the cold showers and intermittent fasting (and fasted weight training) raised my cortisol levels sky high and I'm having adrenal fatigue. I tested twice for cortisol and they came out really low.
Please, please, please help me getting my routine so that I can cure myself and have a little bit of fun in my life. Ever since I've had this acne problem, I've been a hermit, researching on curezone and other forums like a mad scientist, praying like a priest, and yet incredibly sad.
Again, I know this is a looooong intro post, and I thank you all for all the inputs. If nothing else, it feels good to just type this out for the first time.