This gives me some encouragement for my teenage son. He is almost 15 and just finished (a month ago) a course of Accutane, for very severe cystic acne conglobata. He had it on his face, neck and shoulders. We tried 32+ remedies (most of them natural) before going on Accutane. Some of them seemed to help for a period, but not completely. It was a vicious, never-ending cycle. He was at that age when most of his friends and peers still had clear, beautiful skin, and he felt like a freak. He was so very unhappy, and I was a basket-case. I was constantly stressed out and worried about him. I just wanted my boy to be happy and accepted. It was affecting our relationship.
I took him to the best dermatologist I know. He treated me when I was a teen, when I went on Accutane in the 1980s. He is world-renowned and has many years of experience. He is in his 70s now, but thank God he's not retired.
My son is now clear of his inflamed, red, unsightly cystic acne. He has a lot of scarring. We are working on the scars now, but I would take the scars any day over the active, inflamed cysts. He is much happier. He started high school with a clear face. He made lots of new friends and smiles a lot more. His grades are better. His derm. is extremely pleased with the results and called his face "excellent" at his last follow-up.
My problem now, is that I am terrified that his acne will return. Last year was a living hell for both of us, and I do not want to go back there. I haven't told him this of course, but inside I worry about it. I'm not obsessing, but worried. I know everyone is different, and that's awesome that you have not had your acne return (yay!!) but you are older, and his hormones are still raging since he's just a teen. Accutane worked wonders for me, and it felt like a miracle drug. However, some acne did return, and I'm still dealing with it in my 40s. But, it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be. It's manageable. It's not making me depressed like I was as a teenager. My son has gotten some small little blemishes, even after 1 week of finishing Accutane. But they go away really fast, and are very, very small. If it stays that way, that would be great! It's the big huge cysts that frighten me.
The derm. prescribed him Tazorac 0.05% clear gel, which is a topical retinoid. He said it would keep recurring acne at bay, and keep his pores clear of sebum, and he had only wonderful things to say about it. However, I researched it, and many people say it sucks and made their acne return! This has scared me enough to not let my son try it. Instead, he's using natural things to keep his skin clear. Have you ever used Tazorac? I would appreciate any information you have on it, and I'm also going to post on the forum to people who may have used it after Accutane.
Thanks, and I'm happy to hear you had a good experience! Oh, and my son had minimal side effects. His body handled the Accutane very well. I had little to no side effects also (28+ yrs ago).
I feel really bad that acne has had such a bad effect on your family. All I can say is enjoy it now that it's not there and if it comes back deal with it. You've already solved the problem once, so there's no reason that won't work again. That's advice that I couldn't take myself though. After my acne cleared I was absolutely sick with worry that it would return. There are those milestones, six months, a year ect, ect that you watch out for as it may return. I effectively crashed and burned mentally. Went to see a therapist and built myself back up again. Now I feel great.
The reason I mention this is because I'm worried you are going down the same path. I understand how stressful a time it is but you need to give yourself a break. Your son is doing great. You caught the acne nice and early. I don't want to over step my boundaries, but you seem very stressed over the ordeal. You mentioned that you had acne when you were younger. Do you feel stressed because you can empathise with what he is going through, or because you feel that it is somehow your fault that he has acne? Give yourself a break, because it is not your fault. You suffered when you were younger so he didn't have to. You knew what to do, and stopped the acne in its tracks. I wish I had a mother like you. If you were my mother you have saved me years of suffering.
I wish you and your son the very best. I have a particular mantra that helped me get through the stressful early days, 'if it comes back, go back.' Meaning that if the acne came back, I would go back on the accutane. It is that simple. Your son is half my age, so I can't tell you weather or not it is going to come back. However, it also means that he didn't scar as much as he would have, and that they will have longer to fade. If his acne comes back, just go back on accutane as soon as you can. But enjoy now, he's happy and so should you. You did some good mothering.
I have never heard of Tazorac. I don't use anything on my skin, I do use clean and clear or something of it's ilk, but just out of habbit really.
Best of luck
Thank you for the kind words! I do want my son to be as healthy and happy as possible of course, which is why I finally put him on the drug. Now I know to some, that may sound weird ("healthy on Accutane? It messes up your body so bad!") That's why I waited so long to finally let him go on it. I did not want to mess up my precious child's body inside. I know all the risks- the liver damage, etc. I was determined to not do that to him. But all of the work (including money) we were putting into the different remedies, special diets, etc. just got to be too much. I still wrestle with the dilemma and guilt I have about having done this to him (meaning putting him on the drug), knowing how extreme and toxic it is. But he just kept saying to me, "But Mom, look at you- you took it yourself, and you're fine. So maybe I'll be fine too." I hope he's right.
And I think the reason I have been so stressed out about his condition is because it really messed me up mentally when I was younger. I never realized until this experience with him, that acne really destroyed my self esteem when I was young. I mean it totally screwed me up, and I was a miserable kid and teenager. Until Accutane, that is. Once I took it and got clear, I regained much of my self esteem, and I was like a different person. So with my son, I was re-living all of the angst and misery that I went through in my own childhood. Acne really messes with your head! It is not just a physical ailment. It affects basically all aspects of your life. I don't think my parents realized how depressed I was before the Accutane. I never contemplated suicide, but I was just soooo unhappy. I used to pray that I would wake up the next morning with a miraculously clear face. So yeah, acne really destroyed me more than I realized!