I started accutane 1.5 months ago, and decided I'd share my experience with everyone as well as give my suggestions as to what worked for me and what I could have done differently. As I'm only approaching the 50% completion mark, I figure I would do two posts in this thread. One obviously now, and the other towards the end of my 5 month regimen.
A little background first - I'm 26 years old and have struggled off and on with acne since 15. It was probably around 18 when I was prescribed Minocycline and Benzaclyn (Benzoyl Peroxide). The problem with these two, was that it worked well enough to actually keep my acne at bay, but not good enough to totally eliminate it. I've come to realize this was a vicious cycle as you don't want to give it up and risk a huge breakout of acne, but at the same time you know it's not sustainable staying on meds that in the end won't cure anything.
I've avoided Accutane for a lot of years because of the extreme negative connotation that surrounds the prescription. As a college student, I just didn't see it was in my best interest to take it and deal with the monthly blood testing, no drinking, potential side effects, etc.. I now realize that was a mistake.
At 26, it got to the point where my acne wasn't terrible, but it just wasn't going away. I've always had the same problem spots on the side of my forehead, chin, and between my eyes above the nose. So after the recommendation of two doctors, I decided to say screw it, let's get rid of this and go on Accutane.
My doctor started me off on 1 40mg pill a day for the first month. It went well with no harsh side effects. I didn't really breakout terribly like some people report. It was really just the same old acne I always had. Of course the dry skin came on strong about a week and a half in, but that's what the pill is intended to do, and I was armed with the right products to keep it manageable (more on this below). After the 1st month, my blood results came back great so my Doctor has put me on the typical 2 40mg a day. I'm handling it well, except for a couple more minor headaches and drier skin.
After taking accutane for almost 2 months, It's hard to believe I was so freaked out about all the side effects. Please don't get me wrong, these side effects are serious and can happen to anyone. I just think the percentages are in your favor to give Accutane a try. In a lot of ways, Accutane is a mental game. Thinking about it differently really puts your mind at ease. For instance, Accutane can potentially have harmful side effects, but just know that just because you start it, doesn't mean you have to finish it. If you start to feel any of the side effects you stop taking it. Done. Keep the future in mind while on Accutane. You're taking a positive step towards your future and your skin will be great in a short amount of time by sacrificing a few months of dry skin and initial breakouts. Don't worry about those initial breakouts. Think about it this way- It's just the Accutane pushing all the crap out from your pores. It's a good thing, and will be gone soon.
A few other tidbits. One thing I was worried about was the joint pain (side effect), as I work out and lift weights quite a bit. This hasn't affected me in the slightest so far. Still doing the exact same workouts, running and lifting as I've done in the past.
Here are some product and regimen suggestions I have that are working for me thus far:
Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion (Use the SPF 30 Cetaphil Lotion if you'll be outside in the sun). Wear a hat.
Aquaphor Ointment for your lips. There's a reason people rave about this stuff. It works.
Cerave Moisturizing Face Wash. Morning and Night. This is really the only face wash I use. It's gentle and cleans great.
Eucerin Body Lotion. Eucerin is simply the best out there for extremely dry skin.
My recommendation is keep it simple, with few products and not a lot of weird ingredients, harsh scrubbers, astringents, or acids. This will just irritate your skin even more.
I've received a few questions on the alcohol situation with Accutane. And yes, regretfully this was a huge factor in me waiting so long to take Accutane. I didn't want to give up drinking every weekend with my buddies. When I asked my doctor about this, she explained that a drink or two a week was perfectly fine and don't do it the night before the lab tests.
So, I allow myself one beer or glass of wine a week. That's it. I'll admit, it's been tough not partying or having a few drinks while watching a game but it's only for 5 months. It's not the end of the world.
A quick tip for out at the bars: Order a club soda. Looks exactly like you're drinking a vodka soda, so you can some what blend in and not feel weird. Yes, I get that this is not necessarily being true to yourself and might exude a fakeness. Whatever works though right?
Hope to have another update in a couple months. Feel free to ask me any questions and I'll try and respond as quickly as possible. Thanks and good luck!