I’ve had spots since I was a teenager. In fact, I spent most of my teenage years taking antibiotics in order to keep them at bay. The last time I spoke to my GP about it, he told me that unfortunately, some people are just spotty and there’s not a lot that can be done about it.
These are not just spots though; they range from tiny-but-irritating blackheads, to the kind of massive, painful, red lumps that swell up and cause a fair amount of pain as well. These appear not just on my face, but my shoulders and back, and even down my sides and occasionally on my stomach.
Here are some things I’ve tried to try and beat the spots…
When S was very small, and I couldn’t take any medication for my spots, a friend told me there was something in aspirin that was supposed to help with spots.
I bought a pack of soluble aspirin and would mix 2 tablets in a shot glass with some tea tree oil and minimal water to form a paste, which I smeared over my face and shoulders each night before bed. I left it on for a few minutes before washing it off, all the while hoping that S didn’t wake up, since there is also something in aspirin that is dangerous for babies.
It had some effect and did seem to lessen my spots, but it was a massive pain in the bum and I no longer have the time to be messing about with such things.
Over the years, I have bought all sorts of fancy products for spots. Sometimes I think manufacturers of this sort of product think the only requirement is that it sting when applied, and anything that happens after that is neither here nor there. This product is ridiculously cheap (around £2 at the time of writing), but works really well. For a long while, I was doing the aspirin routine every evening, and using a Witch Stick every morning. It’s a good job they’re so cheap, because they don’t last very long when you’re as spotty as I have been known to be!
The combined pill is often prescribed to help with acne. It’s the only reason I was taking it, and it worked really well. I was virtually spot free, until October when I began to suffer migraines. Already familiar with the link between the combined pill, migraines and the risk of stroke, I stopped taking the combined pill. I moved to the mini pill, which has absolutely no benefits for sufferers of acne at all. In fact, several things my GP has said lead me to believe it might even make it worse in some people.
Clean & Clear is the only brand of face wash that has been of any use to me. I’ve spent a fortune over the years, buying everything from the luxury brand counters in Boots to own brand face washes. Some of them work for a while; others never work at all. Some of them work but are so harsh I end up with spot free skin that’s bright red and sore from the chemicals in the face wash. This is the only one I use every single day. Sometimes, if they’re on offer when I’m stocking up, I’ll buy the orange or yellow version of the Morning Energy range; but mostly I stick with the green. It’s my favourite, and although it doesn’t get rid of my spots, it tones them down somewhat.
When I was a teenager, I took small red pills every day and they did the trick.
When S was very small (and I was still breastfeeding) I saw a locum GP who happened to have done a turn in a dermatology clinic. He told me the spots on my shoulders were so deep, there was no antibiotic he could give me while I was still breastfeeding, that would even make the slightest difference. I left empty handed.
I have tried several different antibiotics since; none has made much of a difference.
Apple Cider Vinegar
I read somewhere that apple cider vinegar could help with acne, so I invested in a bottle. A top tip with this one: when the internet tells you to dilute it, don’t think, oh, but my spots are worse than normal spots… Dilute it. Trust me.
It actually works really well. So much so, in fact, that I’ve stopped buying the expensive skincare products I was using before and now have a bottle of ACV in my bathroom. I use it instead of a toner, and a diluted bottle has so far lasted me several months. Brilliant value, and it is a lot more effective than a lot of other products on the market (I’ve tried most of them)
I spoke to a GP a while back who told me not to worry too much about changing my diet; he had never known it to make a significant difference in anyone suffering with acne. This was around the time I read That Sugar Book and decided to go sugar free. I cut my sugar intake right back… and my acne began to clear up.
The thing is, that conversation with the GP ended with a prescription for yet more antibiotics. I filled it on my way home, and began taking the new pills immediately, eager to see an improvement in my skin. When things began to improve, I didn’t link it at first with the change in my diet; I thought the medication was doing its job.
Several months later, I’m still taking those little blue and whilte pills every morning… but the sugar has crept back into my diet, and the spots have errupted again. So I can only conclude that the antibiotics are not working, and that it was the lack of sugar in my diet that was getting rid of the spots. In fact, since then I’ve read several books that suggest acne is just one of many ailments – some minor, some not so – that are caused by the amount of sugar in our diets these days.
My GP was right; some people are just spotty, and that’s that. But there are ways I can get rid of my spots, or at least reduce their severity, and none of them is prohibitively expensive.
If you have found some miracle product that has helped you to get rid of your acne, I’d love to hear about it. At the age of 34, I’m bored of looking like a spotty teen now!
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