Accutane: The Complete Experience
Started on 80mg in May 2013 after endless medications: All the cyclines (Mono, Tetra, Deoxy), Spironactalone, Retin-A, Differin, Atralin and countless others. Not to mention the over the counter stuff, department store brands, spa treatments including expensive peels, etc etc. Nothing worked so I decided to go for it. After about 8 years of suffering and refusing to use accutane I had nothing more to lose.
I suffer from adult cystic acne. (I'm 34) The kind that never really come to a head and are painful to touch. They would form a sort of hard layer (which I loved to pick at) and would take weeks to go down. Some I even had lanced. And it wasn't just around my cycle; although it would get worse around that time, I always had some sort of acne around my mouth, jaw, and neck. Yuck. The most I counted was like 17 at a time. But even one was too much. Also I had back break outs.
So started the treatment in May.
Loss of appetite
These lasted only a few weeks.
Then after the first few weeks:
Joint (ankle especially) and back pain
Severely dry skin on face and arms
Severely dry, peeling lips
Skin became thin and broke easily (I wake up with scratches where I must've scratched at night)
This continued all through treatment so far.
Now is when you're probably freaking out. Stop. It's all manageable.
How I counteracted....Everything you need is at Walgreens.
1. Aquaphor, Aquaphor, Aquaphor!!
(small tubes available in 2 packs for your lips). Caution: it's become my addiction. You cannot survive without it.
2. Face cream: Garnier moisture rescue. It's a serum not a cream and very light. I would take it with me and apply as needed in dry spots right over my make up.
3. Ladies ditch the foundation. Garnier BB Cream Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector with added color. Covers most blemishes and redness all while repairing your skin. Use it. I use a little bronzer with it and that's it. And it contains SPF.
4. Hair: Nuetragena Triple Moisture shampoo and conditioner, as well as the leave in cream. Use the cream when the hair is damp. Also invest in a Moroccan or Macadamia oil hair mask. (I got my hair mask at Ulta). You'll use it once or twice during treatment. The good news is with my hair being dryer I don't wash as much and I let the natural oils build up. Once I straighten it, it can last up to 5 days with just a touch up with my flat iron.
5. Body: Cetaphil moisturizing cream mixed with a few drops of Bio oil. You're welcome. I don't think my skin ever felt that silky and smooth. I mix it in a bowl and apply generously all over.
6. Sun exposer: I'm olive skin and I live in Florida so I have a year round tan. To go to the beach or out on the boat Neutragena face shield with 70spf. Wear a hat and sleeves if possible. I burned once on my arms in the beginning of the summer. Wasn't pleasant and it felt like fried chicken skin...so I added the sleeves. Went to a surf shop and got a couple long sleeve surf shirts. Add cute bottoms and you can totally pull off the surfer girl look. I wore baseball caps even in the water and my sunglasses.
7. Break outs: yes you will get them though hopefully not as bad as before. (I now get 1-2 cysts per month) but they heal faster too.
Since my derm took away all my topicals I had to get crafty.
Go to Vitamin Shoppe or a Whole Foods store. Get raw organic honey. Heat just a teaspoon full in the microwave (use a small bowl) for 10 secs. Pour cinnamon powder onto hot honey and stir to make a paste. You may add fresh lemon juice too. But the idea is for it to be a grainy paste like texture. 3-5 times per week prepare this mask and use it on your face for 15 minutes. I apply it with an old foundation brush. Rinse with warm water. This will keep the breakouts at bay. But it's still not a cure. (it may drip so wear a crappy shirt or no shirt)
8. Scars: I ride bikes a lot and I suddenly got not one but two nasty cysts on my butt between the cheek and leg. Just my luck. Thank the lord beach season is over cause you can see them right under my bikini bottoms just below the seam. So to cure them I used the honey, cinnamon, lemon concoction. Once they resolved themselves I use that same treatment 3 times a week and in between I apply Garnier Skin Renew Dark Spot Overnight Peel. I stick a band aid over it and go to bed. Rinse it off after my morning shower. Scars are lighter everyday.
Seems like a lot but if you get yourself ready to go to war with all the weapons I've given you...you too can survive accutane. If you're about to take accutane chances are your derm had you try a bunch of other meds that gave you hope and failed. So if this is your last resort than do it right and don't give up. Find ways to make it work. Be patient. Month 4 is when you'll be delighted (even with a zit or two) because you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I'm on my last month and skin looks pretty decent, although dry. We still have some work to do after treatment is over but we'll have to wait about 6 months after the last dose. That's how long it'll take for your skin to rebuild itself completely. In this time I'm told most scars will resolve but whatever's left I will either get a peel or microdermabrasion. Nothing can be done before that because the skin layers aren't fully developed. So no waxing, tanning, peels or anything for 6 more months.
Overall I'm glad I did it. I'd still rather have a pimple here and there than a face full of them. Oh and my back cleared up almost immediately. So now I can wear tops and dresses that show my back and shoulders.
There's lots of negative stuff out there that will scare you off. But people never get on the boards to say all good stuff. I'm giving you my complete experience.
One last thing. This medicine is drying you out. Ladies this entails changing the natural pH of your body making you prone to yeast infections. Stay away from hot tubs, change ur clothes right after swimming, and if possible as a prevention tool use Luvena (available at Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, etc.) to keep your pH healthy.
Before anyone says anything no I don't work for Garnier or Walgreens. In fact I don't work at all. I just seriously am done spending all my money (or my husbands rather) on department store overpriced products that do the same as Garnier. And it's available at Walgreens so don't read too much into it.
Oh and how can I forget!? Water, water and more water. At all times.
You now have all my wisdom.
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