Archive for May, 2008

Acne Misconception #3 (“Hormonal Acne”)

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

“Hormonal Acne”

The idea of “Hormonal Acne” is a newer misconception that has spread quickly among physicians and female patients alike.

When encountering severe acne, there is always the thought of hormonal alterations causing such a breakout. The differential diagnosis includes increased androgen secretion from benign growths, malignant tumors, and hyperactive glands. Fortunately, there are accurate blood tests and imaging studies that can detect such hormone imbalances. If still questioned, the tests can be repeated at a later time.

Real hormone issues combined with the widespread knowledge that oil glands respond to androgens in general, has many patients and doctors believing they are treating a “newly discovered” variant of acne called “Hormonal Acne”, which has normal bloodwork but distict acne characteristics and locations. This line of reasoning has since been solidified by the fact that hormone altering medications have been shown to help some cases of acne in varying degrees.

**Before I make a point about this emotional subject, I’d like to refer to the video gallery and note that the vast majority of the female patients in the gallery had worsening symptoms with menstrual periods.  Afterwards, they completely cleared up and stayed clear without any direct or indirect hormonal treatments.


If all women have SIGNIFICANT hormone fluctuations before and during their menstral periods, why do only some women have monthly breakouts….???

The answer is because some people are in a State of Acne Proneness while others are not. The hormones are better viewed as “gasoline” poured on a “fire” The acne prone skin itself is the fire and should remain the focus of treatment if all hormone levels prove normal in a simple blood test.

Bottom line: While Hormonal treatments have been used with varying success in this battle, Acne is still simply just “Acne”   (Just like it was in the 60’s……)

This post may be off-putting to some people……  Here’s why:

I’ve observed that women over 25 with chronic acne find it easier to accept their condition under the veil of “Hormonal Acne”.   Maybe it sounds better than “plain old acne”,  Maybe it just doesn’t make sense to have a “teenage” condition throughout adulthood.  Maybe they are sure they have hormonal acne because all other treatments failed except hormonal therapy.  Maybe they locked into this “diagnosis” simply because their physician told them, “You have hormonal Acne”

The stubborn nature of acne has many people desperately searching for a new diagnosis.  If you look hard enough, you’ll find something else besides “plain old acne” to pin this problem on.  The truth is that the diagnosis of acne is far easier than the successful treatment of it.

Here’s the story as I see it…..,     All acne prone skin responds poorly to hormone changes.  Acne prone skin is the problem, not the hormones.  Any successful hormonal treatment that works is simply minimizing a major aggravating factor.  This is a fine treatment option for those who don’t mind taking long term hormonal therapy for their skin.

What about the Acne prone skin?? ……you may ask….

It’s always changeable over time…..  We’ll discuss the misconception of Acne-prone skin as an affliction vs. the temporary state of acne proneness in a separate post.

This topic may be confusing to those who are strongly convinced they have “hormonal acne.”  When all the videos are watched closely, you can see that the women on here are completely transformed without any hormonal treatment whatsoever.

©2008  “Hormonal Acne” by Dr. Neal Schwartz

3 Responses to “Acne Misconception #3 (“Hormonal Acne”)”

  1. R Says:

    I thought the same thing since my acne got worse at that time of the month. It never failed and became Much worse.

    But since being on these products (I’m on the moderate home version kit), that’s all a thing of the past now. To be able to walk out of the house without a ton of makeup on is unreal:) I still have some scarring of course (after 30 yrs of acne) but no longer worry about breakouts which I got every single day plus worsening during my cylce.

    My acne/face/complexion is now on the back-burner in my thoughts. From dwelling on it all the time to just following the regimen….wow!!

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Stress Relief #1 (“The Summit”)

Friday, May 30th, 2008

   This first stress reducing technique is for those people in good cardiovascular health who have difficulty clearing their head.  Requirements:  A treadmill (preferably a newer version) and some imagination.  I do this after lifting weights at the gym.

**Warning**   this exercise is not for everyone!!  I will share with you how I clear my head as a former athlete and a fit adult.  Please be conscious of your cardiovascular health, your hips, your knees, your ankles, and your feet.  (Please see your doctor first before starting any strenuous activity)  Please adjust the routine here to get a taste of it before you embark on the real thing.   **Tip:  tread softly like you are running on water to save your joints from excessive impact.


That being said,  allow me to introduce “The Summit”

The summit was inspired by the boredom of running on a treadmill.  While I’ve always known that intense cardiovascular exercise is the key to decreasing stress, I’ve never found it enjoyable to run on a treadmill.  

Here’s how to make it kinda fun:   (set treadmill on manual)

Warm up:  set the incline on 2 and ramp up the speed over the next 5 minutes to a speed that is a demanding, yet comfortable jog. (6.2 for me)   (As a variation for those who desire, you can extend this aerobic warm up for as long as you’d like before starting the climb) 

At 5 minutes:    raise the incline to 4.0 and keep pace

At 7 minutes:   raise the incline to 6.0 and try to keep pace.  (If you find yourself cheating by holding onto the rails repeatedly, it’s time to “decrease the speed to whatever you need”

At 9 minutes:     raise incline again to 8.0  and keep the pace but always “decrease the speed to whatever you need”

At 11 minutes:      raise incline to 10.0 and try to keep the pace.  “decrease the speed to whatever you need”

At 12 minutes:        raise incline to 12.0 and keep “decreasing the speed to whatever you need”  to keep steady without cheating

At 13 minutes:      raise incline to 14.0 and keep “decreasing the speed to whatever you need”  to keep steady without cheating.

At 14 minutes:       raise incline to 15.0 and keep “decreasing the speed to whatever you need”  to keep steady without cheating.  (I’m usually between 3-5 speed at this point)

minute 14-15:       Summit that bad boy and make it to the top of the mountain without using the rails.  (Keep reducing speed if you find yourself using the rails………walking/~jogging in place to the peak is ok if you can’t make it faster…..)   Extend past 15 minutes as desired….(I’m usually good at 15 minutes)


cool down:   bring incline down and cool off for a few minutes.  Don’t just jump off the machine.


If possible afterwards:  hit the steamroom/sauna/showers  and then find a local $1/minute massage practice for a 10-60 minute post-summit tune up.

Have a rewarding conscious meal and bask in the glory for the next several hours.  

If you’re workout was performed at the correct intensity level, you should feel like a completely different person for many hours….  (and it’s cummulative over weeks and months.  I do it every other day)

This exercise works for me because it keeps my deficits of attention busy hitting buttons the whole time. (it may annoy those around you with all the beeping…….  but, whatever…)



don’t be reckless with it,


-Dr. Neal

One Response to “Stress Relief #1 (“The Summit”)”

  1. treadmills Says:

    My life partner and I are searching for a treadmill that will be perfect for both of us. Neither of us run, but as I get in shape and become healthy going for walks is certainly something I could forsee myself taking up.

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Stress (an introduction)

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Here’s a popular definition to start off with:

{Hans Selye was one of the founding fathers of stress research. His view in 1956 was that “stress is not necessarily something bad – it all depends on how you take it. The stress of exhilarating, creative successful work is beneficial, while that of failure, humiliation or infection is detrimental.” Selye believed that the biochemical effects of stress would be experienced irrespective of whether the situation was positive or negative.

Since then, a great deal of further research has been conducted, and ideas have moved on. Stress is now viewed as a “bad thing”, with a range of harmful biochemical and long-term effects. These effects have rarely been observed in positive situations.

The most commonly accepted definition of stress (mainly attributed to Richard S Lazarus) is that stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” In short, it’s what we feel when we think we’ve lost control of events.}


      In regards to medical conditions, it is my experience that the uncontrolled, chronic, biochemical reaction we call “stress” is the biggest aggravating factor of all chronic conditions.  Like other chronic conditions, Stress plays a major role in the propagation of chronic acne.  In this Blog category, we will be discussing the specific nature of stress in a chronic acne sufferer and many powerful ways to reduce it.

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Acne Misconception #2 (“My skin is special”)

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

       You’re a special person.  With all your quirks, your strengths, your history, and your troubles.  Your skin however, is not special.  Regardless of how intolerant of products, or how  heavily oily or reactive it gets…,  it’s still not special.  Your skin’s current state of unwellness is not unique in any way whatsoever.  Millions of people all over the world have suffered from juicy acne bumps, oil slicked faces, red faces, post-oral isotretinon sensitivity, dry irritation, and oily irritation.  The moment you think your skin is “special”, is the moment you stop looking for answers and stop asking for assistance.  This mistake can potentially cause a lifetime of needless suffering.  



©2008 “My Skin is Special”  by Dr. Neal Schwartz

2 Responses to “Acne Misconception #2 (“My skin is special”)”

  1. David N Says:

    My skin IS special. I have acne from head to foot (on my face, back, chest, stomach, arms, hands, buttocks and legs) and yet no oil whatsoever. I also suffer from seborrhoeic dermatitis, which makes my skin practically crumble off… AND I have warts on my hands… AND sebaceous cysts on my earlobes… AND recently had a cherry hemangioma removed from my chest. I’ve been putting up with all of this for over 20 years, so don’t tell me it isn’t special. I doubt there is another human being on the planet who has what I have. I live in misery.

  2. admin Says:

    Sorry to hear you live in misery. No one wishes that for you or anyone else. Acne with or without obvious oil, Seborrheic Dermatitis, Chronic cysts, warts, and cherry hamangiomas are all very common treatable skin problems. The only thing special about your situation is that it is being improperly treated. “Your skin is not special” is a quote I give to people who suffer Needlessly from common treatable conditions. It’s the thought, “My skin is special” that allows a person to “victimize” themselves as someone who indeed needs to suffer. It’s a cycle of depression and pessimism that is not catered to in this practice.
    Think about it…… all your skin problems have been put in hundreds of textbooks and articles….., there must have been many cases before yours…, and there will be many more to come. It’s the pessimism of failed treatment attempts that locks people into a lifetime of suffering. I have seborrheic dermatitis as well and know how frustrating this condition can feel. Like your face is always heavy, irritated, and uncomfortable. I have found many ways to treat my own case and my patient’s as well. We have a completely unique, patent pending Seborrheic Dermatitis Kit coming out in a few months that will be an add on to the Minimal Kit. My face finally feels comfortable and this project will extend to anyone who is needlessly suffering.
    Hope you feel better soon,
    -Dr. Neal

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