I haven't written in a while, so I wanted to be sure to update with the *good* results since my tendency is to only go on here when I'm feeling down and need support, and that gives a biased impression of my experience with Accutane. I am going into Month 5 of my Accutane course and my skin is completely clear. I cannot BELIEVE I just wrote that. Completely. Clear. I never in a million years thought I could say that. Ok, so I actually had one tiny tiny bump in the last 3 weeks, so it's not 100% clear, but... I'm so happy with my skin. When I went into this, I thought I would be happy if my skin even cleared up 50 or 75%.
However, it has been a very bumpy road! I got through Month 1 with no problems and then Month 2 was miserable - my skin was so, so bad and the dermatologist was surprised it was taking so long to clear up. On top of that, I had some bad side effects - severely dry eyes - so I went down from 60 mg to 45 mg and then to 30 mg/day. Into Month 3, my skin was getting better slooowly but my eyes were unbearable. My dermatologist made me promise to see an eye doctor - I wasn't too happy about that but it ended up being the best decision ever. The eye doctor told me that he sees Accutane patients all the time and gave me this special like, heated eye mask to help with the dryness. I never thought something so simple could almost completely fix the problem. So now I'm on 30 mg/day - it's a low dose, but I'm completely happy with that. Yes, I'll have to be on Accutane a little longer than planned, but I hardly have any side effects at this dose and it's still working. So it's a much better option for me. I was stressed out at first about getting to the right cumulative dose, etc., but my dermatologist said that is really just a guideline from studies and individuals can have different results - she herself was on Accutane for much less than the recommended cumulative dose and it worked for her.
So, the bottom line is that it took into the 4th month for my skin to clear up, but it did! I'm still really nervous about my acne coming back - I've actually had multiple nightmares about it.
So, if anyone reading this is early in their course or deciding about Accutane, these are a few things I wish I had known: first, have faith that it will most likely work, even if it takes 3-4 months. Second, if the side effects are really strong and uncomfortable for you, consider lowering your dose - I know it's tempting to just tough it out and get it over with sooner, but I'm really, really happy at a lower dose. Last, I wish I had known going into this what an expensive process it would be. I am lucky to have insurance that covers Accutane, but there is still a portion I have to pay, plus lab work, all the extra products you need, eye doctor appointment, etc etc. I feel like this has been 100% worth it, but it is something to keep in mind and budget for.
Anyway, I hope this was helpful or encouraging for someone out there... Good luck to everyone
Another quick update...
Month 2 has been pretty hard and discouraging. I knew going up to 60 mg I might break out, but I still wasn't prepared. Bad breakout during week 6 - not worse than my worst breakouts before accutane, but pretty bad. Couldn't be covered with makeup. I wouldn't say that it went away faster than usual either.
Now I'm in week 8, and my skin has calmed down but I still have the usual ton of invisible jawline bumps and a couple other blemishes. My skin is pretty normal and I can't say I've noticed a lot of changes yet. Tons of side effects though, but at least they make me feel like the drug is in my system and working.
Anyway, I went to the doctor today and he said some people do have to wait till month 3 or 4 to see results. Sigh. I'm staying on 60 mg to keep the side effects manageable.
So... I hope next month I have more positive things to write! I'm happy to be finishing month 2 because I really really want to start seeing some results soon.
Just a quick update...
I'm on day 28. I saw the doctor on Friday and I was super nervous going into the appointment that my labs wouldn't be good and I'd have to go off it, or that she wouldn't bump up my dosage because I've been having pretty noticeable side effects, etc. etc. I worry too much. She said my blood tests (triglycerides & liver function) were "great", and she bumped me up to 60 just like I had hoped. We talked about my progress and she said that I am clearly responding very strongly to the medicine and I'm noticing things that she doesn't expect people to notice until the 2nd month. For example, I'm still breaking out (normally, no "IB"), but the blemishes seem to cycle through very quickly. She had originally told me to expect this in the 2nd month. So basically she said I seem very sensitive to the medicine and I probably won't ever go above 60 mg/day (this is not a super high dose for my weight). I was glad to hear that! 40 mg has been pretty strong in terms of side effects so I hated to think of going up to 80, etc. She also said she thinks that based on how I'm doing, we shouldn't have to go over the basic 5 month course. yay! I'm trying to not get TOO happy about this and jinx myself, but I was very relieved at the outcome of the appointment, and I hope going up to 60 mg won't be too rough. Oh also the doctor said to skip a few pills a week when I first start on the 60 (30 mg 2x a day) while I transition in.
I hope this is interesting to someone! Feel free to say hi or ask questions. If you're reading this because you're considering going on accutane (like I did a few months ago), I would encourage you to go in and talk to your doctor about it! You don't have to make any decisions right away (if you're a girl, you have to wait a month before starting anyway) and it is definitely worth at least considering it. Hope everyone is doing well.
I thought it would be fun to do a post on all the products I've been using to minimize the side effects from Accutane. By the way, I finished 2 weeks! My skin is still breaking out (of course, I know I won't clear up for a while) but the blemishes I do get are going away really fast. Like they come up one day and are practically gone the next. The doctor told me to expect this in the second month, so I'm happy it's happening already! Also my skin got kind of rough looking the first few days but now it has calmed down and my pores look really small.
So, here's what I'm using so far:
Omega 3 oil (Once x day, seems to be helping with dryness/joint pain? No more joint pain since I started taking it)
Aveeno Ultra Calming moisturizer with spf 15 (during the day. LOVE this, it really helps with redness)
Cotz Vanishing Zinc spf 35 (on my face if I'm going to be out in the sun a lot - best zinc sunscreen I've found - not white at all but it's a little too shiny for daily use at work)
Boiron Calendula ointment (every other night, keeps my face really calm and moisturized)
Rx steroid cream from the doctor (for itchy skin)
Aquaphor (Of course!!! for lips)
Ayr nasal drops (I put these in every night before I go to bed, seems to be working)
Garnier Nutrisse shampoo for dry scalp
Dove sensitive skin soap (the only thing I'm using to wash my face nowadays)
Bare Minerals makeup
Target eye drops (as needed and every night before bed)
Well that's all I can think of for now... I'm happy with everything except the eye drops... My eyes have been kind dry and sting-y and they get irritated easily if I'm outside. Any suggestions for super dry eyes? Also my throat has been pretty dry so I'm gonna go buy some honey today and see if that helps...
Things are up and down but are more up today - I'm really excited to get into the 2nd/3rd month when things should be really clearing up (fingers crossed!!!) I hope the next 4 1/2 months just fly by.
Just wanted to write a quick update... Even if no one is reading this, it helps me feel like the time is passing! I'm on Day 11. Lots of side effects... I didn't expect them to kick in so quickly. The crazy itching is much, much better, don't know if that's due to the steroid cream from the doctor, or the fish oil I've been taking, or if my skin just needed to acclimate. My stomach's been pretty upset, but I have no idea if that's from the accutane. Also I have been super tired and haven't felt nearly as social as usual, but again, it's too soon to know if that's from accutane or not.
My skin is doing okay - not as clear as the first week, but still clearer than usual. Redness is a little better too. I wonder when I'm "out of the woods" for the initial breakout? From reading other posts on this site, it seems like some people break out all the way through. My dermatologist told me I would probably clear up in the third month. She said she looks for people to be clear for at least two months before ending their course. So, fingers crossed for that!
Well, I don't know if anyone will stumble across this, but if you do, thanks for reading and please comment if you have any advice! Or just want to say hi.
I am on my 6th day of Accutane (40 mg a day for the first month) and wow, these side effects are no joke. They have already started big time. Last night I was up till 4 am (not because I was out having fun) because my face was itching like CRAZY. It was horrible. The skin on my face is also really red and puffy. Now, I'm not sure if that was all the accutane, or partly caused by how much lotion (Cetaphil) I piled on before bed. Either way, it was awful. I felt all hot and allergic and I'm calling my dermatologist today to ask if this is normal.
But y'all on this site probably know better - IS this normal!?!? Will the redness/itchiness go away? I wasn't expecting such strong side effects on just the 40 mg dose, and so soon... It kind of makes me want to throw in the towel. I really want to give accutane a chance but I feel like maybe I can deal with acne better than with this.
Anyway, obviously having a lot of doubts at the moment - sometime soon when I'm feeling less stressed I'll include some background and hopefully more interesting stuff on this blog!
If you read all the way through, thanks And if you're just starting accutane too or remember what it was like at the beginning and have some helpful advice or encouragement, I'd really appreciate it.