It's been about 6-7 month since I last posted, and I'm sorry for that, but I moved from SF to Austin in May and my life has been crazy (in a good way!) since then. Just to recap, I am a 32/F who never had acne issues until my late twenties, then I ended up my cystic acne that wasn't helped by anything over the counter or prescription. I went on Accutane and I think a did 60 mg/day for about 5 months and then 40 mg/day for two more months (or something close to this). My acne did completely clear up and my side effects weren't too bad, but the first few months were pretty tough to get through.
I've noticed in the last few weeks that my oil has started to return and a few small pimples are popping up here and there, but I will admit that I've been very stressed and eating really terribly recently as well. My routine has stayed pretty simple, just Cetaphil face wash, aloe, and occasionally cerave cream when I get a bit dry. Most of my discolored scars have disappeared, although I do have a few indented scars.
Whether Accutane is a long-term cure for me or not I can't say, but having had close to a year of clear skin and not having to stress out about everything I ate or did because it might bring on a new cyst has been so amazing. I actually have confidence again! I understand that Accutane is a very intense drug, but if your acne issues are really affecting your life, I recommend doing the research to see if it's right for you. If my cystic acne came back, I would not hesitate to do another course.
Hello! It has been quite a while since I posted, but I have now been done with my course for about three months. Towards the end of my course I developed a weird rash (like tiny red dots) all over my chest and back, and luckily it has almost completely disappeared. I think it was related to my skin being super dry, because it's steadily improved as my skin has gotten more and more moisture. My skin is still very clear and although I have gotten a few small pimples, they are literally tiny and go away in a day. All of my side effects have also gone away (dry lips/ eyes/ skin, joint pain, redness)! My scars have not improved too much, but my skin always takes a long time to heal, so I'm not overly worried. I definitely have a few indented scars from large cysts which I know are permanent, but I also have a handful of red marks that are slowly fading away.
I don't have much else to report, but will definitely check back in from time to time to update.
Ok, so it's now been about 5 weeks since I finished my 6 month course on Accutane (4 months at 60/ day and 2 months at 40/day - 125 lbs) and things are going well. I have definitely seen a small amount of oil return, but it's usually just on my forehead at the end of the day, which is still WAY less than what I had before accutane. I'm happy to report that I haven't had any breakouts, but the rash that I developed at the end of my course (all over back, shoulders and chest) is still there. I have not visited the dermatologist to see what's going on with the rash because, to be honest, I am SO SICK of all the lab tests/ derm visits/ etc. so I'm just going to give it some time and see what happens. It's just small red bumps. The dryness of my face, lips, eyes, inside of my nose and scalp is much, much better and it really only bothers me at all if I dehydrate myself from a night of drinking. My joint pain is much better too!
I'm keeping my skincare routine the same as when I was on Accutane for now (Cerave wash in the morning, regular Cetaphil in the evening, and a small amount of Cerave cream twice a day). I know I'll probably have to adjust this down the line, but for now I'm keeping things simple and gentle. I'm also continuing to take flax seed oil every day.
That's it for now; I hope everyone is doing well!
I apologize for the lack of entries recently, but not much has been going on! I finished my course of 60 mg/ day for 6 months about two weeks ago and haven't seen any big changes other than a rash that has developed all over my back and chest. The rash started about 3-4 weeks ago and consists of tiny red dots and also flesh-colored, rough, lumpy patches. If anyone else experienced this, I would love to hear what worked for you!
My skin has stayed clear since finishing aside from a few tiny pimples that come and go in a day and my side effects have become more tolerable. I still have very dry skin and eyes, but at least the bloody noses stopped and I can go a few hours between chapstick applications. I will definitely continue to update every few weeks and hope to have good news!
I will warn you now...this is going to be a very negative post!
My entire course of Accutane has seemed to go two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back, etc. The good news is that I was moving in a positive direction, but the bad news is that it's very hard on you emotionally to start to believe that your skin issues are behind you (since we ALL know how hard it can be to deal with acne for years), and then suffer a set back that makes you think it will NEVER end!! Since my skin has been very clear for the last month or so, I have been so happy and optimist because I thought that my skin issues were over, but they're NOT! ARG! There are a few things that have popped up in the last week and I am SUPER frustrated! For some reason I've started to get tiny pimples all over my face AND I've also been getting large, itchy bumps on one side of my face that seem like bug bites. I'm not sure if the two are related or not. It's possible that my skin has been breaking out with tiny pimples because I lowered by dose from 60 mg/ day to 40 mg/ day without lowering the amount of moisturizer I apply each day. I am going to cut back on moisturizer and see what happens. As for the bug bites (at least I think they are bug bites), I'm just going to apply cortisone for a few days and hope that I stop getting new ones.
Last but not least, I have developed the dreaded crack in the corner of my mouth and after a week of applying aquaphor without seeing improvements, I did some research online and found out that this needs to be treated with cortisone as well, and possibly anti-fungal or antibiotic cream as well. There is a name for this and it's angular cheilitis. It's basically an infection in a cut at the side of the mouth.
Anyhow, hopefully this all clears up soon because I am totally over my skin issues right now!!!
Ok, so I don't really have anything new to report, but I wanted to post an entry just to give an update in case anyone is still reading this! I was on 60 mg/ day for four months, 40 mg/ day for month five, and I now have a little less than one month on 40 mg/ day. Other than occasional tiny pimples that come and go in a day, my skin has been completely clear and all my old cysts have finally healed! I still have a few red marks and a couple indented scars, but nothing that little makeup can't cover! Since dropping from 60 mg to 40/ day, most of my side effects (dry skin/ eyes/ scalp, flushing, joint pain, fatigue) are pretty minimal. Drinking tons of water and taking flax seed oil definitely help me a lot (when I stop doing both I end up with a red rash all over my hands and all my side effects are much worse). Anyhow, that's it for now!
I'm sorry that it has been so long since I wrote, but I've been on vacation in Hawaii with no computer! Being in Hawaii with the mild weather and nice humid air was SOOO good for my skin and eyes. All the dryness and red eyes disappeared, and the few tiny lumps I had under my skin from past cysts disappeared too. I was diligent about sunscreen and wearing a hat so I didn't burn at all, but I could definitely feel that my skin was more sensitive to the sun. I was amazed thought that despite the plane flights, terrible diet, tons of drinking, and slathering on sunscreen ( all things that ALWAYS make me break out), I didn't get even one pimple! Now that I am back to the dry, San Francisco air and wind, the dryness and red eyes have come back...
Anyhow, things are going well but I am really, really ready to be off this drug. Even though none of my side effects have been too bad, having them for months on end gets old! A little over a month to go!
After taking 60 mg/ day for the first four months of my course, my derm decided to bump me up to 80 mg/ day for my final month. However, my side effects were really starting to bother me (gushing bloody nose, super dry skin all over my body, red/ irritated eyes, joint pain), so I decided to drop down to 40 mg/ day and continue taking Accutane for two more months. Dropping my dose has really helped my side effects a lot and my skin is still perfectly clear, so I'm happy with the decision even though it means an additional month. I don't really have anything else to report, but would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season!
Ok, so I went to the derm this week and she was ecstatic with my skin's progress (and so am I!!)! Because I am tolerating the drug so well, she decided to bump me up to 80 mg/ day for my last month, and I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I do like the idea of getting as much Accutane into my body before I finish my course since my odds of a long term cystic acne cure are better if I do this. But, on the other hand, with the holidays and a vacation to Hawaii in only a few weeks, I don't want to experience a breakout from the increased dose or have the dryness/ redness/ joint pain get much worse since it's at a tolerable level right now. I think I might actually reduce my dose to 40 mg/ day and just continue treatment for two more months (I will have to call my derm about this).
As for side effects, the skin all over my body is starting to get really dry and kind of scaly, but the skin on my face is not too dry and only a little red. My scalp has been fine since I am only washing my hair twice a week, but my eyes and nose have been super dry this week, probably due to the colder weather. I had the worst bloody nose of my life this week and literally had blood spraying out of my nose! My joints have really started to hurt, especially my lower back, but I have been doing a lot of running and spin classes which is probably making them hurt more.
My skin is totally clear! The lingering cyst I've had for months is healing and I've got a few red marks from old cysts, but it's been a few weeks since I've gotten a new pimple or cyst. For those of you just starting your Accutane courses, please believe me that although the first few months are REALLY tough on this drug, it's totally worth it when you finally get clear skin! I can't tell you how nice it is to not have throbbing cysts on my face that hurt every time I laugh or smile or take a bite of food, and to not have to feel the need to hide at home because my face looks disgusting. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that my skin stays clear once I finish my course, but in the meantime, I am going to enjoy the clear skin.
Home stretch! I've got about a month and a half left of my five month course at 60 mg/ day and things are going well. The cyst on my chin that has REFUSED to go away for almost four months despite four cortisone injections came to a head today! I have never been so excited to see pus before (gross, sorry!) but it is such a relief to have gotten everything out with only a tiny bit of squeezing and no pain. I think it's finally going to go away! The rest of my face is clear and this is pretty amazing to me because my diet has been so poor. I've got a little bit of redness and a little dryness, but it's mild.
I've been working out and my joints are definitely hurting a lot, but I'm alright with that. I'm seeing my derm this week for the final appointment of my course and am not expecting any changes to my dosage. I'm definitely ready to be off this medication and am getting really tired of the dry lips and eyes, but I am very pleased with the progress my skin has made on Accutane.
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! I don't have too much to report since things continue to improve and my side effects have been minimal. I went earlier this week to have a cyst injected AGAIN (fourth time!!) that I've had since my second week on Accutane, but I haven't gotten any new cysts in weeks and the occasional pimple that I do get is very small and is gone in a day or two. I saw my dad yesterday for the first time since early on in my Accutane course, and the very first thing out of his mouth was "Wow!! Your skin looks so much better!" I was of course very happy to hear this, but especially so since my dad isn't the type to comment on things like this and I think he was so shocked that the comment popped out before he could even stop himself. So that felt very, very nice!
As for side-effects, as long as I slather on the Cerave cream 2-3 times a day, my skin doesn't flake and isn't too tight. I am a little red and flush very easily, but it's not too bad. My scalp is not dry at all since I wash my hair only 1-2 times per week now and my eyes are ok as long as I drink a lot of water and use eye-drops now and again. The joint pain is noticeable since I just started working out again, but it's bearable.
Less than two months left!
Wow, I cannot believe it has been 93 days! I hosted a bachelorette party last weekend so I ended up drinking a lot and eating really unhealthy all weekend, but I also took the weekend off of Accutane to make sure I didn't dehydrate myself too much. I am amazed because normally after a weekend of debauchery I would get a breakout, but I haven't gotten one yet and actually am 99% clear! I've still got one lingering cyst on my chin, but it was injected at the derm last week and is almost gone. My friend actually told me that my skin looked flawless, and even though I was wearing a little concealer and mineral powder, I was amazed by the compliment because my skin has come so far.
As far as side effects go, things are actually a little better this week. I've been drinking tons of water and remembering to take 1-2 TB. of flax oil every day, and that helps so much. When I saw the derm last week she said my labs looked great and is going to keep me on 60 mg/ day for the rest of my course. I am so excited that I only have two months left, and since it's now holiday season, I am sure it will go very quickly!
Ok, so I am now entering my last week of month three! My face is slowly getting better...I STILL have a cyst on my chin from my second week on Accutane that has been drained once and injected with cortisone twice (VERY FRUSTRATING!!), but other than that, I've only had one small but inflamed pimple on my chin and two tiny pimples on my jawline in the last few weeks. The redness from pimples I got early in my course is still there, and there are definitely some small indents that I am hoping will go away once I am off Accutane, but overall, things are looking much better. I actually got a compliment today on my skin for the first time in probably five years!
I have definitely noticed Accutane side effects getting a little worse recently, but I feel like it might be because I was drinking alcohol (which I stopped last week). Last week my eyes were very red and dry, my skin was flaking on my face, and the skin all over my body got very tight and itchy. I also started getting red bumps on one of my hands that turned into a scaly mess, and I am pretty sure it's excema. I've never had it before, but I read several other postings on this site where people had the exact same thing and it was diagnosed as excema. However, once I cut out alcohol and started drinking extra water, things have gotten much better. I was very careful for my first two months on Accutane to not drink at all, but I did a handful of times in the third month, and I def. noticed it made things worse!
I am taking my lab tests on Thursday and am seeing the derm on Friday, so hopefully everything goes well and I'll get my prescription for month four. Only two months left!
I'm now halfway through my course and today I woke up to a new pimple on my chin (it's actually the first "new" pimple I've had in a while...my issues for the last few weeks have been old cysts that get re-inflamed). Oddly enough, I am actually kind of excited about it because it's a normal pimple, not a cyst, and I never get normal pimples on my chin, so I am REALLY hoping that this means my cyst days are over! I do still have two tiny cysts healing on my chin, but I think Accutane is doing its job and is getting rid of my cystic acne!!
I've got to do my labs at the end of next week, and since I have been drinking a few times a week, I need to cut out the alcohol and processed foods until my test. I would be PISSED at myself if I couldn't continue Accutane because my labs came back with bad news! Other than a little dryness, prolonged flushing when I get hot or embarrassed, and some achy joints, the side effects aren't too bad.
I'm halfway done! I wish I could say I felt like this course was going quickly, but it feels like I've been on Accutane forever! I read through all my blog postings since I started this course in August, and it made me realize just how much my skin has improved. I do still have one large cyst that I got injected (again) yesterday and one tiny cyst, both of which I have had since my second week on Accutane, but the rest of my skin looks great. The first few weeks on Accutane are rough not only because of the breakouts, but also because your skin looks terrible...it's red, flaky, your pours get huge, your lips are peeling, and it's impossible to cover with makeup. I think I've been so fixated on these lingering cysts that I haven't noticed that my skin has improved so much!
Like I said, I've got two lingering cysts, but I'm completely clear everywhere else and my red spots from past pimples are fading very quickly. I do get a little peeling every few days, but as long as I use Cerave cream twice a day, I'm fine. My lips are actually doing better because I stopped using Aquaphor...it's too thin and tends to wipe off so quickly, so I got Carmex and it's working much better for me. I've almost completely stopped washing my hair (I'll wash with conditioner only every few days and head & shoulders once a week) so my scalp is not flaking and my hair isn't getting dry. I do have a fair amount of joint pain, especially when I go on a long walk with my dog, but nothing too bad.
For the past few weeks my diet has been poor, so starting this week I am getting back on track and will cut out caffeine and as many carbs as possible, so hopefully I can get these last two cysts to go away!
Alright, so in just a few days I will be halfway done with my Accutane course (5 months at 60 mg/ day). Fortunately most of my side effects are minimal right now (red/ dry face, dry lips, dry scalp, fatigue, joint pain) and I have completely stopped producing oil on my face and scalp, but I still have some lingering cysts on my face that are starting to drive me crazy. Although my skin looks WAY better than it did during the first part of my course, I'm getting frustrated that these cysts won't go away even after being injected with cortisone (mainly because I know for me the longer the cysts are there, the more likely I am to get an indented scar). Now, one thing I should def. mention is that my diet has not been the greatest (lots of coffee and carbs and even a few drinks here and there), and this always contributes to cysts on my face.
Another thing I have noticed is that my eyebrows and eyelashes seem to be falling out a little. I'm also noticing that my skin is getting cut very easily...like I have small nicks on my hands all the time and I don't even remember how it happened. I think my skin is getting very thin.
Anyhow, that's it for now...I've definitely seen a HUGE improvement in my face but am very eager for these remaining cysts to GO AWAY!
Hello! I visited the derm yesterday for my monthly appointment and she was really happy with how things were going and opted to keep me at 60 mg/ day. She injected my three remaining cysts that have been around for several weeks, so hopefully that finally gets rid of them. I really don't have too much else to report. My face is clear other than the fading cysts, redness is minimal and as long as I slather on Cerave cream twice a day, the dryness is easy to manage too. The jojoba oil is preventing most of flaking on my scalp, and all my other side effects are very minimal (fatigue/ joint pain). My initial outbreak is definitely over and although I am sure I will have break-outs here and there, I am really optimistic that Accutane is going to work for me!
Ok, so I'm now 52 days into my 5 month, 60 mg/ day course and things seem to be improving. I've got one cyst on my jawline that's been lingering for over a month, but it's not sore or inflamed any longer. All my other cysts have either totally disappeared or are very tiny now. One cyst I had on the bottom of my chin burst earlier this week (very gross how much gunk comes out!!), which was crazy for me because I've never before had a cyst come to a head. I did get one very inflamed pimple on my chin a few days ago that has THREE different heads on it and has been throbbing for several days, but at least it's not a cyst! The rest of my face is completely clear, although I do have a few red spots from past pimples, but they seem to be fading. All my other Accutane side effects are under control right now (redness/ peeling/ dandruff/ fatigue), but I think that's because I've learned which products are best for me, and also because other than my short trip to Mexico last week, I've really babied myself since beginning my course (no alcohol, lots of fruits/ veggies/ water/ sleep).
I'm going to take my lab tests next Monday and will visit the derm on Tuesday, so we'll see whether she decides to keep my dose the same. I think I am already on a relatively high dose for my height/ weight (5'5", 120 lbs), but she had mentioned going up to 80 mg/ day the last time I saw her. Part of me wants to go up to 80 because I really want to make sure to get rid of this acne permanently, but part of me wants to stay at 60 because the side effects are tolerable at this dose.
Hello! It's been almost a week since my last entry since I was on vacation, but fortunately this will be a much more positive blog entry than the last! Last week I had a bunch of cysts and when I went to get them injected, my doctor would only inject one really inflamed spot (said after a certain amount of time on Accutane there were a lot more risks with the injections), but fortunately all of the cysts have gone down. They are all still there (even the one that's been there for over a month!), BUT considering that on my vacation I drank tons of coffee and alcohol, ate terribly, and only took a few of my pills because I was drinking, I am amazed that my face improved!! So here's a quick summary of how everything is going:
-My face is completely clear except the 5 cysts on my chin and one on my jawline which are now very small and basically just lumps under the skin. The redness/ dryness is very minimal right now, but I think that is because I skipped some pills while on vacation AND because I now put on a very thick layer of Cerave cream morning and night (I highly recommend this cream to everyone on Accutane).
-I am noticing flaking on my scalp despite only washing my hair every 4 days now and have also noticed flaking on my chest and back.
-I haven't felt too tired but am still noticing achy joints, but it's very tolerable.
I am hoping that in two weeks time these cysts will be gone and I will be clear! I have heard that the third month is usually when people clear, so hopefully this is the case for me.
Today I am feeling a little bummed out about my progress since I counted six very deep spots on my chin this morning that just formed and will no doubt become cysts. I also have another very large pimples next to my mouth that just formed. I am hoping to get the cysts injected tomorrow since I leave for vacation on friday. I'm still very dry and a little red, but my scalp is doing a lot better thanks to jojoba oil. Anyway, I will update again when I am back next week and hope to have better news to share.
Hello! I went this week for my one month check in and since my labs looked good (triglycerides were up slightly but still on the low end) and my face is already completely dry and producing no oil, I was kept on 60 mg/ day, which I am happy about. As for the state of my skin, here's a quick rundown:
-The cyst on my jawline is still there after two weeks and one cortisone injection, but it's not sore anymore and seems to be going away very slowly. There are a few smaller pimples on my jawline, but nothing major. My two other cysts that I got last week have all but disappeared (yay!). I also have a new cyst on the end of my chin, but it feels like it won't surface (fingers crossed).
-The dryness/ redness seems like it's getting worse, so I've started using jojoba oil on my face (I let it sit on my face for 30 minutes before I wash it)
-My scalp is still super dry, but jojoba oil helps a lot (I let it soak in for a few hours before I wash my hair, which I am only doing 2 times a week)
-Most of my blackheads are gone, but for some reason my pores look very large again like they did during the first week or two on Accutane
-I'm still noticing I am more tired than usual and am having some join pain, but nothing major
-One of my eyes twitches throughout the day and has been for nearly two weeks, but after doing some research, I found out it's probably linked to the accutane, from dryness. I will increase my use of eyedrops and see if it gets better.
I guess that's it for now! I am cautiously optimistic that my initial outbreak is nearly over!
Accutane can really mess with your mind! Just yesterday I was thinking that my initial outbreak might be coming to an end and wondering if the "cystic acne era" in my life might be over, and today I have three brand-new, very large cystic pimples (one next to my nose that I think is actually two cysts joined together, one on my chin and one above my lip...BOO!). It's so strange how cystic pimples form so quickly on Accutane. It would normally take about a week for a large one to form on my face, and now it apparently takes about 12 hours. On top of that I've got a whitehead between my eyes that turned into a nasty scab even though I didn't pick it, a large pimple on my jawline and a bunch of blackheads (more and more are falling out everyday though). I also see little bumps under the skin on my forehead and chin, and I am praying that these end up as small whiteheads and not cysts.
TWO days ago I was amazed that all my red marks from past pimples had faded, and somehow today it's like they all came back. In short, I am looking pretty terrible today. I was in class all day and didn't look in the mirror once because I didn't want to know what all my classmates were seeing under the harsh fluorescent lights in the classroom, so I was pretty shocked when I got home to see the three large cysts that weren't there this morning. ARG! I'm going to Mexico in two weeks with 20 friends and I am so afraid that my skin is going to continue to get worse and that my trip will be ruined because I will be so embarrassed by my acne.
On a brighter note, I was hoping that some ice-cream would make me feel better (bad for my skin, I know, but tonight I don't care!), so I tried a new Ben & Jerry's flavor called Red Velvet Cake, which was DELICIOUS! I definitely recommend it.
Anyhow, I hope to have more positive news to share soon. I'm seeing the derm on Tuesday and will get these cysts injected and see if she wants to up my dose.
It's hard to believe I have almost been on Accutane for an entire month! Tomorrow I go to get my blood test and next Tuesday I see the derm again. Here's a quick run-down of the state of my skin:
-Blackheads, blackheads, blackheads! I've never seen so many but they are definitely being pushed out because they are all raised bumps all over my face and I can see some pores have already pushed out the blackheads. Very attractive!
-I had three cysts injected this week on my chin and jawline, which was a relief because one had grown quite large and the others were probably on their way to getting really big too. Random small pimples keep popping up all over my face and take a few days to heal, but they're tiny.
-My skin got super, super dry since it is not longer producing even a tiny bit of oil, so I bought the Cerave cream, which is AMAZING. It really, really helps with dryness, and oddly enough, it's matte and doesn't leave a shine behind like the regular Cerave lotion does, so I have been using it morning and night. I also bought an Alba oil-free sunscreen for sensitive skin
-As of now, the redness is totally under control as long as I moisturize, and the red marks left behind from recent pimples seem to fade really fast because my skin is peeling so much
-My scalp is much better now because I've been applying jojoba oil for a few hours before I wash my hair, which I am only doing every 3-4 days now (sounds gross, I know, but it doesn't get oily at all and I asked my friends to be honest and tell me if it smells, and they said it doesn't!).
-I been very strict with my diet this week (lots of fruits and vegetable, tons of water, flax 1-2 times a day), so hopefully that will help with the inflamed pimples
As for other Accutane side-effects, I have noticed some pain in my joints and that I get tired easier when I exercise, but both are mild.
I'll update again in a few days!
Wow, over the course of the day my "normal" pimple on my jawline turned into a very large, very red cyst! I ate terribly this weekend (lots of dairy, sweets, refined carbs, coffee) and I'm sure that is to blame. In the past, any time I indulge in rich food with lots of refined carbs, I get cysts, but I foolishly thought that after a few weeks of Accutane I wouldn't have that same problem. Arg! Now I am going to have to get this thing injected this week because it's the largest cyst I have had in years.
Hello! So today marks my 22nd day at 60 mg/ day and not much has changed in the last few days. I've got a few "normal" pimples by my nose and jawline that have been lingering for a few days, a cyst by my mouth that is almost gone, and a few underground cysts that are just staying under the skin and not doing much. I've also got tons and tons of blackheads all over my face. The facial redness is only noticeable when I get hot or stressed, but the dryness on my face is pretty bad even though I am slathering on moisturizer every night and applying a thin layer in the morning. I think I may need to invest in a cream for nighttime use.
That's it for now!