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cystic acne flare up

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I hate to start a new forum with this age old question. It gets asked a lot but it seems people rarely follow up with their results, either because it cleared up or they gave up I don't know. But I need to know if I can expect mine to clear up on its own as I continue whole 30 or if it is something I am eating too much of. So here is a rundown of my experience. Any input is appreciated.

I've always had cystic acne flare ups. (Pre whole 30 life since being a teen). The deep painful ones that never come to a head. The worst one was beside my mouth and I had to get a cortisone shot in it which left me with a huge atrophied area that I hated, but now looks like a dimple. These flare ups were usually triggered by a combo of high stress and sugar or sometimes alcohol but I don't drink much. I also have rosacea and very sensitive skin so as a rule I cannot use facial cleaners I just use warm water to clean.

Now I started whole 30 14 days ago with clear skin. I haven't had a bad breakout in probably a year. But starting at about day 10 I got a deep painful cystic zit on my chin area on the other side of my mouth from the atrophied scar I have. I Do Not want to get another shot in it & watch it pock my face like last time. It would look horrible. But they usually clear up on their own (eventually) as long as I keep my stress levels down. However this is different. Now I have 2 more large pimples popping up, another one on my chin & one beside the top of my nose in the cheek under eye area that is looking like it too will be a deep cyst. I'm sad because up til now the whole 30 has been working wonderful for me. I don't plan on stopping it because of this, I mean it certainly won't clear up if I go back to eating sugar anyway. So I just need to know if I can expect it to get better or what based on other's experiences.

My diet the last couple days is as follows:

B; ground turkey cooked in coconut oil or olive oil with onion. Green veggies sauteed in garlic with other seasonings.

L; chicken with avacado, lettuce, grapes, onion & half apple. Sweet potatoe. Black & green olives.

D; chicken thighs in coconut oil, (actually last night was pork but I rarely eat pork bc of gall bladder sensitivity) dill, ground rosemary. Mashed potatoes. Sauteed sweet peppers Broccoli & onion. Sometimes a small amount of coconut milk to drink with dinner.

I'm eating balanced for me, my energy is great! I dare to say there is some tiger blood going on already and my clothes are fitting better everyday. I do not shrink back from eating lots of good fats. If I were to troubleshoot this myself I'd wonder if I was eating maybe too much coconut? (Oils & milk) but if I cut them out I'd be bummed out and hard pressed to find another source of fat I like. Also how would I know if the cans have Bpa and if that is what is bothering me? I haven't noticed any of the 3 brands available to me saying bpa free or not.

And the only other thing is I'm not sleeping as well as I usually do, I figured this may also just be a phase my body is going through but it could be contributing to the acne flare up maybe? I drink a good amount of water but plan to increase that as well hoping it will help with the acne. Thought? Suggestions? Thank you...

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My first thought was ghee, since I have just pinpointed this one myself.  Apparently I am prone to skin issues with dairy, and apparently ghee is enough dairy to cause that.  Although I never would have guessed that or really believed it until now.


My next guess would be coconut.  Sorry.  But there are lots of other fat options.  I just checked out http://www.fatworksfoods.com last night after I saw GFChris post it... lots of cool options there.  But I ordered some duck fat from Amazon.  Can't wait to try it!


I think it's easy to get stuck in a certain mindset when it comes to fat -- but you actually have A LOT of options.  Fattier cuts of meat, egg yolks, mayo, olives, etc etc etc.

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I totally get you on the skin issues - they are beyond frustrating. I have about 4 of them - including rosacea.


Please note that sometimes it's pretty typical for skin problems to get worse initially before they get better.


Your meals look good - yes I would advise you to continue to stay away from pork.  Pork is one of those proteins that can be funny for people.  I don't tolerate pork well either.  It's a cause for cystic acne for me.


Nuts and nutbutters are pretty typical for causing issues - have you been consuming any nuts at all?  (I don't see any listed on your sample day)


Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and maybe potatoes - these are all nightshade vegetables and they have been linked to skin issues - so might be worth it to experiment and leave them out for a number of days and see what happens.


Bone Broth is great for helping skin issues, as it helps heal the digestive track.  If bone broth is not a option maybe consider a collagen supplement.


About all lovely things coconutty:  Coconut oil seems to be tolerate better than either milk or coconut chips/flakes. So again I encourage you to experiment with it and see what works.  You could be potentially fine with coconut oil but drinking coconut milk could start a flare up.


Make sure you are drinking plenty of water as well.  Recommended dosage is half your body weight in ounces daily.

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My first thought is stress. Starting the Whole30 can be very stressful! Psychologically and physically, as you have the stress of worrying about finding compliant foods, putting together healthy meals, etc. Also the stress of "doing it right". The second place I'd look is for foods you've added that you don't normally eat. Try removing one thing at a time so you know the culprit. 

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Thanks for all your suggestions! Face is still broken out but since I stopped having coconut milk the last couple days it hasn't gotten worse. So maybe I found the culprit... I will try to reintroduce it in a week and find out for sure.

Also thanks for the tip about Bone broth I didn't realize it was so good for the skin, definitely need to make some soon!

And stress yes, you were probably right about stress. Unfortunately it's not something you can really cut out much of on a busy schedule lol but trying to do more things I enjoy to balance it out. I will update this page as I have more results so others can hopefully benefit.

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