I'm currently at the end of my 4th month on Absorica, with 1 more month prescribed and hopefully month 5 will be my last month. I'm about 49kg and was on 30mg my first month then 60mg every month after that. The side effects during the first month included fatigue, some joint pain (especially in knees and lower back), my hair got drier and got all dandruffy/flaky, minor stomach aches after each time I took the Absorica pill for about two weeks (this went away and hasn't come back), and dry lips and skin. My initial breakout wasn't too bad, it wasn't too much worse than what it would have been without accutane. My blackheads on my nose and chin literally pushed out all of "gunk" itself and I would find the gunk as white oblong little 'dots' hanging out on the sides of my nose and on my chin and would just wipe them away every now and then. My very oily skin and hair started to get less oily about halfway through my first month, which was awesome.
During the second month, when my dose was doubled from 30mg to 60mg, I started getting eczema (little red pimply-ish rashes) on the tops of my hands (I never had eczema prior to accutane), my fatigue increased, my joint and muscle pain increased, my nail cuticles stopped growing, my nails chip, crack and flake easily, my nose bleeds, my face and lower arms/tops of hands flush (feel hot and look red) every now and then, I lost some weight, dry hair and flaky scalp continued, and my non-facial skin all over my body got drier, particularly my arms and lower legs. My lips became even drier and became very chapped about two times in the second and third month to the point that the corners of my lips cracked open as open sores and blisters on my upper lip one of those times (not cold sores though). Also, my skin got more oily for about 14 days after I started taking the increased 60mg dose, but then my skin got less oily again. Dry eyes is another common symptom, but I had significant eye oil gland issues before taking Accutane and haven't noticed my eyes getting drier or more blurry from lack of oil, but this could be because my eyes are already so damn dry without Accutane. All of these still side effects still persist, but I'm managing them.
Fast forward a few months to month 4 and I noticed that my face skin got a bit drier (which is awesome for my oily skin), but it's not too dry and isn't flaking much, only when I skip moisturizer. I've stayed at the high dose of 60mg despite all of the side effects because I want to get done faster and research shows the higher the dose and shorter the course, the less of a change of relapse.
One weird potential accutane side effect I got was in the beginning of month 4 when two randomly-appearing very small, indented scars on my cheeks. I didn't have a lot of acne in month 4 and know for a fact that these scars were not a result of a previous pimple or previous scar. I did some googling and saw something about fish oil being bad for this type of issue, so I stopped taking fish oil pills and haven't had any new randomly-appearing scars since. I told my derm about it and it seemed new to her and she didn't think it was because of accutane. Which is strange because this has never happened to me before taking the accutane.
Here are some positive awesome side effects of accutane: 1. my face skin is about 95% clear right now, but it took 4 full months to get this way. Months 2 and 3 were the worst times for acne, but the breakouts weren't too too bad overall. 2. My back and chest acne no longer exist and hasn't since the end of the second month. 3. I can currently go a full week without washing my hair and only really need a tiny bit of dry shampoo on day 5 or 6. My record so far is 8 days without a hair washing, and it didn't look too bad on day 8. I could barely go 10-12 hours after a hair washing before taking accutane without looking like a dirty greaseball head. 4. My back is no longer oily and feels like normal skin. 5. My face's oil production has decreased significantly and I only see and feel some oiliness at the end of the day on my nose and forehead (t-zone). My face before accutane was extremely oily. I'm talking extreme extreme, so this is my most favorite positive side effect of accutane.
Here is how I manage my side effects:
Eczema: steroid creams prescribed by my dermatologist that helped a bit but hasn't completely cleared it thus far, and have to stop taking after two weeks to avoid steroid side effects. While I'm both on and off steroid cream use, I found that not washing the tops of my hands (bottoms only) and applying Aveeno Eczema Therapy cream followed by a light coating of Aquaphor several times a day helps the eczema a lot.
Dry skin: Right after I get out of the shower, I apply Johnson and Johnson baby oil with shea and cocoa butter while my skin is still wet. I then dry off and apply Aveeno Eczema Therapy cream everywhere, except on my face. I tried CeraVe SA renewing lotion and cream for the first 3 months and they were pretty good, but found that Aveeno Eczema Therapy cream is the best. My face isn't too dry, but I put argan oil under my eyes twice a day and follow up with CeraVe day or night moisturizer, but my favorite is a moisturizer that I had before accutane which is Ole Henriksen African Red Tea See the Difference Serum, which is very moisturizing and not as greasy feeling as CeraVe day face lotion. For skin cleaning, I wash my body with CeraVe or the non-soap Dove sensitive skin body wash. I wash my face once or twice a day with CeraVe.
Severely chapped lips: When my lips got really bad and cracked open and bled, I applied Cortizone maximum strength hydrocortizone cream to the cracked corners and the rest of my lips a few times a day, followed by Aquaphor. This helped significantly clear the issue after about a day or two of this method.
Regular chapped, flaky lips: I've tried Carmex, Vaseline, and Aquaphor and while all of them work pretty well, I found that Aquaphor works the best and prevents the development of the severely chapped lips issue. I have Aquaphor on my lips at all times, 24/7, 365. Since my lips flake and peel like crazy, about once a day, sometimes every other day or when needed, I exfoliate my lips by doing one of the following exfoliating methods: 1. using my Neutrogena Microdermabrasion System tool on the low setting on my lips, or: 2. While my lips are wet (ideally after the shower or brushing teeth), I scrub my lips gently with my toothbrush, or: 3. While my lips are wet, scrub them with my hand towel.
Fatigue: This is probably my most hated side effect. Adderall (which I'm already prescribed) and/or caffeine, getting more hours of sleep at night than I usually do, and sometimes exercise, all help.
Nails: Nutra Nail applied onto my nails every day to every other day helps prevent chipping and flaking.
Joint and muscle pain: stopped exercising strenuously and do lighter workouts as my muscles hurt so much more when I do this than when not on accutane. Fish oil pills didn't help my joint pain or anything else much, even when taking higher than normal doses. I started taking a glucosamine supplement and found that this helps ease my joint pain, especially in my knees, but hasn't totally gotten rid of it. I noticed my joint pain is worse when I don't drink enough water. So drink up!
Dry hair: going as long as I could without washing it helped my dry hair the most. During months 1-3, I washed it about 2-3 times per week maximum. When my skin got a bit drier in month 4, I was able to go a week without washing it and utilizing some dry shampoo. When I do wash it, I use head and shoulders shampoo and conditioner 2 in 1 as my shampoo then follow up with a deep conditioner/conditioning mask (pantene or something like that). When I started going a week between washings, I noticed my hair was less dry and felt more healthy. My hair still gets some minor flakes (probably from dryness) sometimes after about 5-6 days post washing, but I manage/get rid of it with manual removal and brushing the flakes out and they seem don't come back for a while.
I apologize for this novel-like length and extreme detail of this post but I hope it helps!
Edited by OilyAcneQueen, 13 January 2014 - 12:34 PM.