Adult Acne Saved My Life + How I'm Healing
I never really had a lot of acne in my teenage years, just the normal hormonal acne every kid gets. It was never really bad enough to warrant a trip to the dermatologist. I noticed things start pop up on my face around 20 years old.
That’s when I started taking hormonal birth control. I was engaged to be married to my now husband. I remember my OB/GYN saying, “It’ll also help clear this up,” pointing to my chin.
She was right. It did clear me up just in time for my wedding day. Later on I ended up pregnant with my first child. That’s when things started to get bad, and it’s been bad ever since. It started out as small pimples here and there, and now it’s giant cystic mountains all over the place.
I’ve spent hundreds, probably even thousands, of dollars trying to clear this up. I’ve tried every over-the-counter product, all the home remedies, and all the prescription medication you can try before Accutane (which I’ll probably never be able to take now, thanks to my diagnosis) is your only next option, which leads me to the story of how I found out I was sick.
The Appointment That Changed Everything
It was February 2017. I was so fed up with the way my face looked on a regular basis and tried everything under the sun to clear it up. I thought that maybe my new doctor, a DO, could help me get to the bottom of the issue. Something HAD to be causing this. I refused to believe this was just the way God made me. I couldn’t accept that as my truth, so off to the doctor I went.
Actually, let me back up a sec. I had been putting off going to the doctor because I thought there was nothing anyone could do. I was afraid she would minimize my pain and tell me it’s not a big deal. I was in a bad place. So depressed and anxious all the time.
It wasn’t until I found a lump in my breast (not cancer and ended up going away) that I decided I’d go to the doctor for the lump and just bring up the acne issue while I was there.
To my surprise, she actually listened to me and had compassion for me. I cried in her office. So much pain had built up inside me that I just couldn’t hold onto it anymore.
I asked her to check my hormone levels, but she ended up doing more testing than just hormones, and it’s because of that testing that I eventually found out was wrong with me.
Along with being deficient in vitamin D, my liver enzymes, ALT specifically, were really high. She seemed concerned and referred me to a gastroenterologist. Fast-forward a couple of months. I found out I have celiac disease.
Now, you may be thinking, “Really? Celiac disease isn’t a big deal. It’s just an allergy.” Well, that’s what I thought too. My grandma has it as well, but I always just thought it was an allergy. No big deal. It’s not an allergy, though.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease an autoimmune disease that causes the small intestine to attack itself when gluten is consumed. The repeated attacks cause damage to the small intestine.
The only treatment right now is a gluten-free diet, but less than 50% of people with celiac disease are able to heal this damage two years after diagnosis. If left untreated, it can cause intestinal cancer and death. When I read that, I was kind of shocked.
What My Life is Like Now
I immediately stopped consuming gluten. It was like poison to me, and I think that’s what helped me get used to the idea that never having yeast rolls, fried chicken, or normal pizza ever again wasn’t the end of the world. It makes eating out and at other people’s houses a pain. Sometimes I have to just sit there while everyone else eats, and honestly, that sucks a little. Or a lot.
And did you know that it’s not just food that can contain gluten? Lipstick, toothpaste, body lotion, even envelopes can contain gluten. I have to be very careful about what I put in and on my body, but I’m getting used to it.
What My Skin is Like Now
After four months of a gluten-free diet, my skin has cleared up about 50%. I still have a long way to go. I’ve been following a diet that will eventually heal the damage to my liver, and, hopefully in the process, heal my skin as well. I feel like maybe there are other foods I’m sensitive to that are still causing the breakouts, so I’ll be doing an elimination diet in the coming weeks. I’m excited to share my results, if any, and I’ll be writing a post about that too. If you’d like to be notified when I publish that post, be sure to subscribe to my blog.
I wanted to write about this so that more people would realize that if there is something going on with you, even if it’s just skin issues, that doesn’t seem quite right, don’t just accept that that’s just the way you are. See a doctor. Find out what’s causing your pain. Acne may be common, but it isn’t “normal,” and don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
Do you have chronic cystic acne as an adult? Have you healed from it? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!