UPDATE: 2 Weeks On low dose Isotretinoin (10-15mg)
Right, thought it would be good to update my blog on this rather lovely Friday afternoon..
Well, I am on day 16 on my low dose oral Isotretinoin course and I am pleased to say it has started to take effect on my skin. The first few days I could hardly tell any difference, but in this last week my skin is definitely smoother and less oily. I am recognising that delicate baby-ness of my skin all over my body which I was so used to during my previous year long course on this drug. My lips are also dry so I have had to use my lip balm frequently.
I am just glad my skin is on the up again, even if only temporarily from this medication. However, after I finish the last pack I can't wait to go back on to the Spiro as I feel I could do with sorting my hormones out again. I am back to being more easily angered and argumentative. It's like I can actually feel my testosterone rising again lol. I miss the relaxed and more chilled out person I was on the Spiro. My period was messed up this month too, as when I stopped taking it I literally had two days of spotting when my period was meant to be happening. I only have about a month's supply left. Nevertheless, I think I will look for more ways to help my acne and not just rely on Isotrex and Spiro..
I am very interested in the role of vitamin A and beta-carotene on the prevention of acne. Oral Isotretinoin works extremely well on my skin even when I am taking it in very low doses. In the last 2 weeks the difference has been amazing. Even when I had been using it topically over the last few months in the form of Isotrex, it did have a good effect of reducing my hyper-keratinization.
As it took a few months for my skin to get used to and work, I didn't really notice how much it had helped until I stopped over the last 3-4 weeks! It did not beat the oral version though, which is why I am interested in taking it orally as a safer form such as beta-carotene in the long run. Topical isotretinoin might help keep my skin smooth but it did nothing to reduce my excess sebum. That is where the spironolactone helped majorly.
I am not talking about ingesting stupidly high doses, but the normal, daily recommended amount for a person and not above that. It just goes back to looking after yourself and making sure you eat a diet rich in a wide range of nutrients that we need to be healthy and reduce all the bad stuff like excess sugar, unhealthy fats and junk in general. I have been trying to drink more water and reduce on the crap and it all really does help. Nourish your body on the inside as well as taking care of it on the outside.
I have tried to find some literature to support their mechanisms on acne and managed to fnd a few studies, but in all the results were inconclusive. Some studies said that reduced beta-carotene levels actually affect hormones and send the thyroid glands into overdrive and this may explain why some people get greasier skin (a symptom of hyper-thyroidism) and their acne then increases in severity. I have put the link for the research below:
Burri, Betty Jane. "Beta-carotene and human health: a review of current research." Nutrition Research 17.3 (1997): 547-580.
Vitamin A clearly plays a big role in helping acne but taken in higher doses over a long period of time, it becomes even more dangerous than oral isotretinon, which is a man-made synthetic version of vitamin A.
Omenn, Gilbert S., et al. "Long-term vitamin A does not produce clinically significant hypertriglyceridemia: results from CARET, the beta-carotene and retinol efficacy trial." Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 3.8 (1994): 711-713.
Beta-carotene would seem like a safer option and indeed many studies seemed to confirm that it is rarely toxic, but improvement on dermatological ailments is not as dramatic as when taking actual vitamin A (retinyl palmitate). However, it still plays a role in keeping this vitamin's levels up in the blood so will be something I will try to supplement in my own diet. You can read more in this article which I have linked below:
Bayerl, Christiane. "Beta-carotene in dermatology: does it help." Acta Dermatoven APA 17.4 (2008): 160-166.
I hope this info helps anyone as I have found it very useful to understand how or why I may be more prone to acne than other individuals. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying vitamin A and beta-carotene are acne cures, but may be one of the little but significant defences we can incorporate into our diet to help our fight against acne.