How To Stop Your Skin From Going Nuts When You Go Off The Pill
There are things you can do to avoid the dreaded breakout.
When I was around 13 (aka. the second I went through puberty) I developed really bad acne.
I’m not talking about one or two pimples, nor am I talking about those really severe, angry, deep-under-the-skin cysts. Mine was quite an unusual type —my entire face was covered with tiny bumps under the skin, which made my face look perpetually red, dirty and oily. I know now that this is called closed comedones and it’s caused by an excess of oil blocking the skin’s sebaceous glands.
My skin was the bane of my existence. I felt hideous and like it was all anyone could see when they looked at me. It didn’t help that I also had short, orange hair (exhibit A, below) and was being badly bullied at school at the time. Every single night, I would go to bed wishing with everything I had to wake up with a clear face. And then, I would wake up, put my hand to my face and feel that familiar sting of shame and disappointment as I realized the bumps were still there. Yes, it sounds extreme and superficial, but it’s something you don’t understand until you’ve had acne yourself.
My mum and I tried everything to clear up my skin: creams, cleansers, supplements, pimple creams, Proactiv. Nothing worked — in fact, most things made it worse. I was about to try Roaccutane when a dermatologist suggested going on the contraceptive pill. It was an extreme option, but not as extreme as Roaccutane, which has been found to have serious side effects like depression. Plus, I was 15 by now and had a boyfriend, so going on birth control wasn’t a completely ridiculous idea. So, I went on Yasmin, and lo and behold, my skin cleared up within a couple of months. Turns out, my acne was 100% hormonal.
Fast forward 11 years, and my skin has been basically perfect since — never anything more than a pimple or two. But there’s just one problem: my skin is addicted to The Pill. While it’s convenient for me to be on it right now, I’m inevitably going to have to come off it in a few years time when it’s time to start thinking about having a family. And if I’m not diligent about taking care of my skin, it’s almost certain that my rebellious teenage skin will come back in full force — possibly even worse than before.
The good news is, there are things you can do to prevent acne when you stop taking The Pill. Here, Debbie Dickson, director of education at DMK, explains why our skin goes mental when we go off The Pill and what we can do about it (along with my personal tips from when I had a 3-month break from the pill)
Why does acne flare up when we go off The Pill?
“When you are taking the birth control pill, you are putting synthetic hormones into the body every day. Effectively, your body thinks you are pregnant and you can’t get pregnant twice, right? And because your body thinks it is pregnant, progesterone declines and they become estrogen and androgen dominant, which can lead to breakouts.”
Do acne flare-ups happen to everyone when they go off The Pill?
“Absolutely. Not everyone but the majority.”
How long does it take to flush The Pill out of the system?
“It only takes a few days for The Pill to be out of your system, but the imbalances can take 3 to 6 months to regulate in the system and this is very dependent on the individual and what their hormones were like before they started.”
What can you do to prevent breakouts when you come off The Pill?
Nail your skincare
“It’s important to ensure the skin is really healthy and functioning optimally and to clean out any congestion that could trigger breakouts. I would definitely recommend having a couple of professional treatments to restore balance into the skin. My advice would be to have a course of professional DMK quick peel and Enzyme therapy treatments. These will gently exfoliate the skin to clear any dead cell material and clean out the top of the excretory ducts. They also increase circulation, improving oxygenated blood flow, which creates an inconducive environment for bacteria to breed in, and enhances the lymphatic drainage system, draining toxins and impurities from the skin, to clear the breakout quickly and avoid scarring.
t’s also important to get on a good home skincare routine, that includes lotions that heal and eliminate the breakouts fast. Also try doing an exfoliation at home with a gentle exfoliant once a week followed by a purifying masque.”
It sounds cliched, but good skin really does start from the inside out. So, if you’re coming off The Pill, now is not the time to dive headfirst into burgers, buckets of KFC or chocolate bars.
“Foods that aggravate acne are dairy and sugar, GMO foods, and refined carbohydrates. I recommend eating really clean during this phase,” says Debbie. She also recommends making sure you’re getting plenty of essential fatty acids in your diet, found in foods like salmon, walnuts, soybeans, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
“Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are very good for restoring hormonal balance —they increase the free water levels in the skin and waterproof the skin. This will help the oil to flow onto the surface of the skin instead of getting clogged down in the hair shafts and sebaceous glands. EFAs also make the sebum nice and thin, so it flows through and isn’t thick and waxy and clogging. When something is called essential it means the body doesn’t manufacture it, so it must be obtained from either diet or supplement.”
Keep your hands off your face
Think about how many things your hands come into contact with during the average day: your smartphone, doorknobs, keyboard… It’s no surprise that even when you wash your hands, your fingertips are a breeding ground for the bacteria that can contribute to acne. So, whatever you do, keep your hands well away from your face to avoid spreading dirt, oil and bacteria. Oh, and for the love of god, do not pick or pop your pimples! Not only will it spread bacteria like wildfire, but it can lead to permanent acne scarring.
Try these supplements
There are a few supplements that may help keep your skin under control when you go off The Pill. The first is Zilch Acne, a natural skin supplement from renowned Australian Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Cosmetic Acupuncturist, Dr Vivian Tam. A strong blend of 17 herbs, Zilch restores skin harmony by reducing inflammation, removing heat and toxicity, detoxifying the skin and promoting blood circulation for healing.
Another option is Alpha Venus from ATP Labs, a powerful combination of herbs designed to release a build-of excess estrogen in the body — which can help keep those hormonal breakouts at bay. Many people also swear by Skin B5 Acne, which contains a high dose of vitamin B5 combined with other acne-fighting ingredients like zinc to help control excess oil production (which, as we know, is a major culprit of breakouts!)
Debbie also recommends DMK EFA Ultra. “This is an essential fatty acid supplement, contains omega 3, 6, 9, and the very rare omega 7. It also contains vitamins, mineral and amino acids. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are very good for restoring hormonal balance, they increase the free water levels in the skin and waterproof the skin, this will help the oil to flow onto the surface of the skin instead of getting clogged down in the hair shafts and sebaceous glands. EFAs also make the sebum nice and thin so it flows through and isn’t thick and waxy and clogging. When something is called essential it means the body doesn’t manufacture it, so it must be obtained from either diet or supplement.”
Start preparing early
If you’re thinking about going off The Pill, try to follow these steps 6 months before to help prepare your body. It’s also important to chat to your doctor first.
Featured image via pexels.com.
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