I first got acne in my early teens, 13-14 years old. My older brother had it badly and tried all sorts of things before he finally got on an oral antibiotic that helped him. I used topicals like Differin through my teen years, and my acne eventually subsided to a few here and there. It got much better in the summer when I was outdoors more, and sometimes I'd go for months at a time with no creams at all. When I graduated college, my acne began to come back. Like I said, I always had a few here and there, but nothing that made me too self-conscious. Oily skin is genetic in my family, so I simply accepted that I'd always have a few breakouts. But it got to the point where I'd have several on my face at once, and I started to get a lot of the cystic kind. I began going back to my dermatologist and she got me on Solodyn, which was an oral antibiotic. It worked wonders and my face cleared up in a matter of months to the point I literally had no breakouts aside from one every week or two. I would have gladly stayed on this, but my dermatologist told me 1) It would never actually cure my acne, so if I wanted to stay clear-skinned, I was going to have to continue to take this pill daily. Not a huge deal, but an annoyance none the less. More importantly to me, it was an antibiotic which can have an adverse affect on birth control. This can be said of all antibiotics taken alongside birth control, and I just didn't like that risk. After 6 months on Solodyn, I ran out and decided to see if my acne was still bad or if finally at age 23, it would subside. It came back worse than ever, almost an entirely different kind of acne. It was cystic and red and many of them would hurt. My cheeks and jawline were covered almost nonstop, regardless of what I did. I had enough and went back to my dermatologist, where she told me I was a prime candidate for Accutane.
I was hoping for another oral medication that wasn't an antibiotic, but apparently nothing like that exists yet. When she gave me the iPledge booklet and told me all the risks and possible side-effects that come along with Accutane, I was obviously a bit afraid. I went home right away and read the entire booklet. Most of it stated the same side-effects that come with almost every medication, even simple over the counter cold medicines. But some of the bigger ones, like depression and the onset of colitis really scared me. It seems a bit ridiculous to risk your most vital internal organs to clear up your face, something that has no direct effect on your health. Obviously, the other risk women have to worry about is the horrible birth defects that can result if you get pregnant while on Accutane. My family was split on the medication, but I ultimately decided I wanted to try it. With the requirements of the pregnancy tests and blood work monthly just to get the refill, I figured my doctor would stop me on the medication immediately if it was having adverse effects on my health, and I'd recognize if I was feeling differently as well and would stop if I felt like the medication was making me feel different.
I have been on the medication for a month now and am glad I decided to give it a try. I'm on Absorica, which is one of the more recent versions of Accutane. It is supposed to be one of the more efficient kinds because you take it twice daily with a meal and it is supposed to react with the fat in your meal to do it's work. My face is not yet completely cleared up, but as I said, I've only been on it for a month. I have 3-4 zits now compared to the way they covered my cheeks and jawline before. I've also noticed that my skin in general looks more even and less splotchy. It's definitely not the best time of the year to be on it, with the winter weather making the drying out conditions even worse on my face, but I think it's a small price to pay if the Accutane ends up doing it's job in the long run. I know I have to be on it for at least 4 months and usually longer, and I'm looking forward to the end results. For anyone considering the jump to Accutane who is a little nervous, I would suggest carefully considering the possible side-effects and thinking about your current medical history. If you already have a lot going on, it might not be the best for you. But if you're relatively healthy and familiar with your body and how you typically feel, I'd say to go for it and just carefully monitor how you feel while on it. It will definitely help your acne, so long as the rest of you feels good while doing so!