Just thought I share my thoughts and experiences and add on to the assortment of personal journeys with acne and Accutane. I know its long but I feel like longer stories allow people to connect to others better who are in the same struggle.
Andre – Male
Ethnicity – Black/Asian
Location – Maryland, United States
Affliction/affected area – Face, back, shoulders, chest, arms, even stomach, butt, legs, and forearms.
Reason/final straw for taking ‘Tane’ – Of course the main reason is Acne but something usually drives some people to the last straw (since Accutane is really supposed to be a last resort). For me it was having my first child. I wanted to be able to do things involving water without being embarrassed or focused on something other than family time.
Prescription – Zenatane, 40mg 2x daily.
Summary – Have been a victim of acne since the beginning of high school. Used several common OTC products, T.V. products, prescription antibiotics (Doxycycline), prescription foam, and even herbal/natural/home remedies to no avail. Changed diet to go along with regularly healthy lifestyle (exercise/no big medical issues) but that did not work either. Finally made the jump to Accutane (Zenatane) on January 28, 2014. To combat possible side effects I’ve taken Osteo Bi Flex, Kirkman’s EveryDay™ Multi-Vitamin WITHOUT Vitamins A & D – Hypoallergenic, and NOW Foods Liver Detoxifier & Regenerator. To fight the dryness, I’ve used Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Lotion & LypSyl Lip Balm which seem to work best. I’ve also used Cerave moisturizing cream, Nivea Kiss of smoothness lip moisturizer, and Aquaphor.
Side Effects – Dry/Flaky face especially on ears and cheeks. Dry lips (just peeling, no cracks or bleeding). Both of these showed up just 4 days into taking Accutane but subsided a little by day 7/8. Episodic dry/itchy scalp. No joint/muscle pains outside of the normal hurt I cause myself in the gym.
Initial breakout/recovery – I’ve read some people have different time frames of starting and stopping new breakouts during Accutane use. Some as last months, some just a week or so and some start very late or very early. Mine started around day 4/5.
I’ve always had some kind of ailment that knocked down my “self-esteem” or “confidence” a bit but not so much to be depressed. In elementary school, I had horrible scars on my legs from untreated poison ivy. In middle school, I was the chubby “mixed” kid. In high school, I thought things would be different but nope. Acne hit 9th grade with vengeance. My face was pretty bad at some points throughout high school and when you’re an all year round track runner (Xcountry, indoor/outdoor) wearing limited clothing, the last thing you want is to be dashing through the wind looking like a leopard. Yes, I call myself that. I have a crude since of humor and/or realistic since of reality. I tell my wife I don’t like swimming or going to the beach because I don’t want to look like a leopard. Looking back at pictures, every major event in high school I had scars on my face from acne except graduation.
Once high school was over for some reason, my face had become 90-95% clear. It slowly transferred all to my body. The only reasoning I can think of is that I began to grow facial hair quicker and therefore began dry shaving every 2-3 days and then used alcohol afterwards. It was this way for much of the next decade. I only had periodic bad breakouts on my face, which coincided with very high stress times. The three that I can think of are a very tough financial situation in undergrad, the time where I couldn’t find a job once graduating, and most recently in the second half of 2013 when I was dealing with the stress associated with a newborn (limited sleep, crying). My mother bought procativ in high school among using other OTC items from Neutrogena, Clearasil, clean and clear, etc. I found that using clean and clear with the exfoliating sand (or whatever inside) worked pretty well to keep acne from getting worse than it was over the years.
When I landed a good job, I began to experiment since acne products can get expensive. None really worked and it is time consuming. It was also sporadic. In 2013, it got bad on my face. Nothing slaps you the face harder than bad acne on the face and I finally used my health care plan to go to the dermatologist. I was prescribed an antibiotic (Doxycyline) which seemed to worked. My acne appeared to get a little better but no cure. Once the baby came in May, acne came back on my face. It wasn’t horrible but very persistent. It seemed like every time one bump/scar began to diminish another or two would come up. I started getting irritated that I had what looked like Orion’s belt on my forehead. What was even worse was my body.
I finally went back to the derm in January and got prescribed Accutane after being thoroughly informed of side effects, other prescriptions that could be use etc. I really just wanted it to be over with in one shot and not be taking something for years. I thought January was good because I wouldn’t be going through the whole winter (causing more dryness) and I should be clear by summer. So hopefully by then I will be cured and can enjoy doing things in the sun/water with my child as I got to when I was younger.
As for the Zenatane, it has been 12 days since I started. I had originally planned to start earlier but you gotta jump through the hoops first – Ipledge agreement, blood test, pharmacy ordering, etc. Even though the booklet and prescription have so many helpful details from test studies to side effects many of you that choose to take Accutane might walk away with one piece of knowledge – don’t get pregnant. I swear pregnancy as a no-no on Accutane was like every other sentence. Once I was on I stopped other things. I used to take optimum nutrition multivitamins. I switched to a multi vitamin without A & D. Of course I stopped drinking anything although I only have a beer or drink every few weeks/months or so. I’ve used several moisturizers – Cerave, Alba, Alba cocoa butter style, and Lubriderm advanced therapy. When I switched to Lubriderm my face peeling stopped. I wasn’t sure if it was the result of using Lubriderm or just the normal process of Accutane. The same goes for LypSyl; once I started using it along with aquaphor on my lips the extreme dryness slowed and it is not as bad.
Day 1 – I felt a strange feeling in my stomach. Not painful, just not normal when I moved. I also had a headache. I’m not sure if this was the result of my nervousness/anxiousness of starting a drug that could have ridiculous side effects if you fall into that small percentage of people.
Days 2 & 3 – Acne that was there seems to be less puss filled and more hardened. I found out because I have a terrible nervous habit of picking at them…
Days 4-7 – Dry/peeling face, dry lips, dry scalp. I believe I had an initial breakout here. I suddenly developed 3 medium cystic bumps (2 on forehead, 1 on jawline), some smaller ones on face, and maybe a dozen smaller ones on body (spread around from side of stomach to shoulder to chest).
Days 8-10 – Itchy scalp. Possible dry eyes? But I have had issues with dry eyes before so I can’t really say it is a side effect of Accutane. I also am becoming very comfortable with the idea of taking Accutane. I think there is a certain paranoia that exists with people like me who are very cautious and it takes a week or two to say ok I am comfortable with this.
Days 10-11 – Face & lip dryness virtually non-existent to the outside world. I can feel the dryness but my wife isn’t looking at my ears/cheeks (driest parts) like omg. However, if it did continue I think most people would rather be the lizard shedding the skin than dealing with acne any longer.
I hope to report more good results. Just to note, I also drink close to if not a gallon of water a day, so that may have helped. That may be a hard transition for some but I was already drinking ¾ of a gallon at least prior to Accutane.
Thanks for reading. Hopefully I can get some pictures up soon. Good luck on your treatment plans no matter what route you take!