Hi there, for those of you on the accutane journey, those of you who are considering it and those that have finished. This is my own experience this far. Anyone is welcome to share )
I personally know how discouraging it can be to deal with acne, especially cystic--- the scarring and concerns of further scarring are what finally convinced me this was my next step. I had never dealt with acne until my late 20s. I have tried everything else .... And was willing to try anything... Except accutane because I had heard of the seriousness of the drug and it's side effects. So it was to my surprise when I met with the derm and she so casually suggested it as my best option. She told me there was no use dealing with the scarring if I wasn't going to first deal with the acne. So here I am, I've just finished my first month!!! It was not an easy choice, despite my derms positive views of the drug, I still spent many hours on forums, blogs and you tube posts of individuals sharing their own accutane experiences.
I should clarify that I am not a professional or doctor and know that every case is individual but wanted to share any info that could be of use to anyone that reads this.
After reading a lot of other accutane users experiences I was curious why people are starting on such high doses?? I know it's based on weight and target doses but I was started on 40 and was prescribed 40 for my second month. I was having pressure type headaches before my first month was up when I went to the derm. I also had a huge rash across my chest with was uncomfortable and was prescribed a hydrocortisone -- this cleared it up and my hands within a couple days!! My headaches are better too but I'm glad I'm still on the lower dose. I think my target is only 50! For the record I'm 5' 2" and 115lbs.
My first month:
The first week I noticed my face looked and felt a little sunburnt and I would get the chills about an hour after I took my medication. I only had to take medication once a day so decided to take it with my dinner when I was at home. Also, I found it was better to be at home incase I did have any side effects. After the first week I noticed a huge improvement in my skin and the sunburnt feeling had stopped. I also noticed since the redness and active cystic acne was diminishing my scarring from previous breakouts was more apparent. I do eventually plan on having laser skin resurfacing to deal with the scars when I'm done and in the clear for that type of treatment. Before considering accutane as an option for me I had gone to the derm inquiring about treatments for scar removal- she insisted that I needed to deal with the acne first. She told me they offered anything I could ever want in scar removal therapies. I know these can be an expensive process but for those of you worried about scars, you have options. Through the course of the first month although things have continued to improve, I've had set back- getting pimples in areas I normally don't- forehead - huge one! I would have to say trying to squeeze out white heads or blackheads- ( there's soo many I never had before ... Looks like little pepper all over my face) have continued to prove a huge mistake on my part. My skin has been extremely fragile and easily damaged. Even trying to gently remove debris from this skin has caused the skin to come right off my face. And since it takes long to heal, I have found that if I leave it alone, it goes away much faster than if I pick and am left with a mark much worse than what I was trying to remove.
Aside from having sunburnt look and feel on my face, clearing, chills, headaches and hand/ chest rash, easily damaged skin (not just on my face) I have also experienced minor dry eye, feeling tired (comes on suddenly in the evening after I take med- accompanied by minor irritation- crankiness) minor dry lips and some achiness in places not previously bothering me; ankles, hips, SI joints.
Things that have worked for me:
Every morning I wash my face with cetaphil facial cleanser and use a warm baby wash cloth over some of the dry areas like the sides of my nose I follow by splashing my face with cold water , pat dry and apply Thayers witch hazel with lavender and Aloe ( I love this stuff) with a cotton pad (found in health food isles or stores). Followed by cetaphil daily moisturizer with SPF 15. I use the 15 because my BB cream and mineral powder both have SPF 25. By the way I use Jane Iredale -- after my search for the best natural and high quality face make up and it does not have the pore clogging and acne causing ingredients that other mineral makeup products do. Anyways, I pretty much do the same thing at night but I wash my face 2x to get all the make up off. I also use Nioxin scalp recovery 1-4 xs a day to keep my scalp from becoming too dry & itchy and the night before I wash my hair (as I'm washing it every 3-4 days now- used to wash it every day because it was so oily) I do a coconut oil mask overnight. I moisturize my body with cetaphil moisturizer and I drink soo much water that I probably spend half the day in the bathroom but it keeps me from feeling run down and from drying out. I started using Vaseline lip therapy with Shea butter right away... I reapply every 5- 30 minutes.. I have not had any issues with extreme dry lip yet but the one day I used another lip treatment (blistex) all day my lips started to get a little peely. I used a warm cloth to gently take off the dry skin and continued using Vaseline, problem solved! At night I put the thickest layer on my lips and it's still moist in the am. I also put some up my nose. A humidifier would definitely help too with the dry air while you sleep or if you work in a place at a desk you could keep it.
I take Fish oil & biotin for healthy hair, skin & nails
I take iron & b12 because I have been low on them in blood work since before accutane
Pure aloe Vera juice- internal anti inflammatory
I oil pull (google this or ask!) with coconut oil every am while in the shower- helps with my am headaches
Take/ eat organic coconut oil - 1 tbsp before dinner
For best absorption take it with fats found in nuts, olive oil, avacados, oily fish like salmon- I incorporate avocados into all my dinners.
Check with your doctor/ derm about any vitamins and supplements before taking anything as I have. Avoid any multivitamins containing vitamin A, vitamin A itself and foods that are a high source of vitamin A like:
Green leafy ex: kale
This is one thing I really struggle with since a lot of my favourite foods are on here (
Last but not least, as I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time reading, watching and learning about others experiences while on accutane and after and I'm sure I'm not alone when I'm frightened about some of the long term side effects- long term persistent joint pain, hair loss that doesn't grow back, chronic gastro intestinal issues or conditions, intra cranial swelling, depression, psychosis--- Yikes! I did speak to my family physician about my concerns because she said she wanted a derm to make the call to put me I accutane and not her, she told me that in all her patients that have gone on accutane she doesn't have any that have reported long term side effects. This made me feel better, this is not to take away from the stories and experiences of those experiencing the long term negative effects of this drug. We still don't know the very long term effects of this drug- will there be a study 30 years from now in which a large percentage of those that used this drug have all suffered from a common ailment? Who knows. Once you've decided to take it, it becomes a risk willing to be taken and we need to do our due diligence to take best care of our bodies while on the drug and after.
This is crazy long for anyone who stuck it out and read it! Thanks!!! Would love to hear from anyone and am happy to help anyone too !!!
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