This week I started on 70mg of isotretinoin/roaccutane/accutane – whatever you want to call it! Quite a leap from 30mg but if you want to find out more about the reasons behind that then you can read my one month recap post. Day 29 Thursday 17th August Dermatologist appointment day! I stayed at my parents again this week as they were on holiday and needed a cat sitter, which worked out perfectly for me as the hospital is only a 25 minute walk away from their house. However. I mentioned earlier in the week that I was getting foot pain and this has definitely got worse. My ankle and heels were really sore this morning when I got up and walking that far on them was not ideal. My face was really smooth today though! Not a spot in sight, a few scars but to be honest if my face wasn’t so red I wouldn’t have felt the need to wear make-up at all and that’s HUGE coming from me.
Here's a photo:
Day 30 Friday 18th August I woke up with a WHITE HEAD on my chin! WHAT! There was no redness surrounding it but it was still pretty big, this is the first proper spot I’ve had in about a week. It seems mad that I’m complaining about one spot when a month ago one spot would have been classed as an amazing skin day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still extremely happy with how this is going for me but I think I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by avoiding an initial breakout in the first month. I think this is the start of it. My back and chest have completely cleared though! Just scarring on my back now, I can’t believe it. Day 31 Saturday 19th August I developed a headache around midday which was a bit nasty but went away with paracetamol. I think this might be a recurring thing as I up my dose, as last month in my first week on 30mg, I started on the Thursday and got a headache on the Saturday too. The spot is still there, doesn’t look like it’s budging. Day 32 Sunday 20th August Not only has the spot grown, it’s grown friends. It’s started to turn into a cluster of cysts, which are all quite swollen and red, and my chin is really sore. I can’t move my mouth without feeling them. I’ve not missed this. I also had another headache which was quite bad. It got worse when I was in the daylight so I ended up having to nap it off. Day 33 Monday 21st August Thank god I’m off work this week. Hallelujah, because there’s no way I can cover the craters on my chin. I made the mistake of picking one and it went so juicy. I had to go and pick up my car today so needed to put some minimal make up on. After an hour of trying, I had to accept that the make up wasn’t going to cover it and go out with a big juicy open sore on my chin. I really, really, really regret picking it because it’s definitely going to scar. On the bright side though, no headaches today! But here's some photos of the cluster (after a HEAVY moisturising session), they don't look as bad as they felt because they were very deep and under the skin:
Day 34 Tuesday 22nd August When I went back home yesterday to pick up my car, I also picked up my boots rapid action spot gel. I swore by this stuff before roaccutane because it would always help reduce the swelling on angry spots. The claim on the packet says visibly reduces swelling and redness within 2 hours but this was never the case before, it was more like 6 hours. However – I used it today and like clockwork, within two hours all of my spots started to shrink. What a miracle! I’m going to keep reapplying and keep you updated. Day 35 Wednesday 23rd August OH MY GOD THEY’VE FLATTENED. They are dry and crusty AF but they’re flat and one cyst turned into a (really flat) white head. They were really easy to cover in make up and it looked fine for about 3 hours whilst I was out shopping,you honestly couldn't even see them. On the way home my feet really started to ache and when I got in I was hobbling around the house like a cripple due to the heel and ankle aches. When I looked in the mirror about 4-5 hours after applying my make up, my skin had really started to flake off around the spots but who cares! They’re flat!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously go out and buy that gel now.
Products that I’ve used this week Spot Gel – Boots Skin Clear Ultra Rapid Action Spot Gel Cleanser - Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Cleanser – Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Spring Water - Avene Thermal Water Spray Moisturiser – Avene Hydrance Optimale Light Gentle exfoliator- BIODERMA Hydrabio Exfoliating Gel Moisturiser - La Roche Posay Effaclar H moisturiser Moisturising Face Mask - BIODERMA Hydrabio Masque Moisturising Mask Lips - Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream and Nivea Essential Care lip balm
I had my one month appointment at the dermatologist on Thursday morning. She was really impressed with how I’ve taken to it and her eyes lit up when I said I’d not had an initial break out. Of course everyone reacts differently to the medication but she said that it filled her with confidence that this treatment was going to be effective for me personally. She upped my dose from 30mg to 70mg for the next month and said it was a good idea to try and get as many mg under my belt before the winter months, as it’s harder to cope with the dryness then due to central heating etc. I was warned that my side effects would get more intense but also reminded that I know my own limits and if it affects my day to day life too much to reduce the dose to 50mg, but that of course, this would mean I may be on it longer. I was originally told 5 months.
I just want to put out there that the pharmacist seemed a bit confused about my new dosage. She looked me up and down and said "... 70mg, are you sure? did they weigh you?" Yes. She did weigh me. I was just over 63kg, and when I said this she just said "Oh... okay." The doctor explained to me that the treatment is, in a nut shell, maths and that basically by the end of the treatment my total mg needs to be ideally between two numbers - one that was 120mg x my weight and one that was 150mg x my weight. Here is a summary of how I’ve been getting on over the last month: Break outs – nothing major, any spots I did get were early on and would clear quickly and my skin completely flattened towards the end of the month. I had no spots when I went to my dermatologist appointment. Dry skin – noticeably a lot drier to me, but manageable. Mainly around the sides of my nose and any spots that I had. It became more noticeable to others towards the end of the month but even then it wasn’t too bad. I think I could cope if this is as bad as it gets. Dry lips – they started drying out and cracking quite early on, and I found when I was speaking a lot I would have to reapply lip balm constantly because they’d start to get really tight. The dry lips have without a doubt been the stand out side effect with me. Dandruff – oh my days this was excessive. Honestly, I’ve never known anything like it. I would touch my head and all of a sudden it was snowing, I felt so gross and self-conscious at work and on public transport. It was really bad for the first three weeks but calmed down a lot in the fourth week. I started using t-gel shampoo once/occasionally twice a week (because I never need to wash my hair anymore!!!!!) and I think it’s really helped! Flushed complexion – My face has a pink/red hue, without make-up I look permanently hot or embarrassed. It’s only shown through my make up once or twice, and sometimes my face got quite hot and I felt like I was going through the menopause. Joint pain – Mild lower back pain but nothing too serious. Headaches – I had one headache a few days after I started the medication, it felt like a really bad hangover but went away with some paracetamol. It could just be a coincidence. Mood – No negative affect on my mood whatsoever, if anything I feel really positive about my skin for the first time in ages.
I’ve just completed my fourth week on 30mg of roaccutane. I have my dermatologist appointment tomorrow morning so I might do an extra post about that afterwards to share what was discussed. My symptoms are much of the same but because I haven’t reacted that badly to the 30mg (at least I don’t think I have) I have a feeling she’s going to up my dose. Things are about to get interesting. Not in this blog post though, sorry. Day 22 Thursday10th August Overall my skin is good, I keep getting dry patches of skin in the same place: one above my eyebrow, one at the top of my nose inbetween my eyes, a few on my chin and the creases of my nose. I keep pulling the dry patches of skin off. I need to stop! When I pull the skin off it leaves a little cut and I’m conscious of them scarring if I keep doing it. Day 23 Friday 11th August My face is the same. Still no major break outs, just the usual dryness. In the afternoons my face is getting really hot, one side of my face goes bright red. I’ve also started sleeping with lip balms in my bed because I keep waking up in the night with really tight lips. Day 24 Saturday 12th August I had a day without make up today to give my face a break. It felt and looked really smooth, but appearance wise I still have quite a bit of scarring and my face is bright red without make up on. I’m not staying at home this week, and the lighting where I’m staying is shocking so I’m really struggling to capture the colour intensity on camera. But if you look at the colour of my neck in comparison you’ll get the idea! Day 25 Sunday 13th August Woke up this morning with an insane thirst and downed two bottles of water! Had another make up free day, although my side effects at this stage are minimal the redness is bad and I know I’m not imagining this facial hair thing that I discovered last week – what the fuck is going on. I can't believe I'm even sharing it but is this normal? Day 26 Monday 14th August The thirst continues. My face is so red that it’s showing through my make up. I don’t ever seem to realise how bad it is until I get to work. I put some more CC cream on and it sorted it out but the dryness always started to show up around midday. Day 27 Tuesday 15th August Still thirsty. Still red. Now experiencing lower back ache and sore feet but I don’t know if it’s related to this because I was in accident last month (run over by a car) and when I do too much I tend to ache. On the bright side though, my dandruff seems to be calming down. I think the T-Gel is really helping! Day 28 Wednesday 16th August Today was the driest my face has been so far. It looked fine when I left for work but by lunch time it literally looked like sandpaper and there was no coming back from it. I just had to accept that it wasn’t going to get any better no matter how much I tried to fix it. My lip also split again today. Fab. Here’s a photo of my face to show you the kind of dryness I'm talking about: Products that I’ve used this week Cleanser - Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Cleanser – Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Spring Water - Avene Thermal Water Spray Moisturiser – Avene Hydrance Optimale Light Gentle exfoliator- BIODERMA Hydrabio Exfoliating Gel Moisturiser - La Roche Posay Effaclar H moisturiser Moisturising Face Mask - BIODERMA Hydrabio Masque Moisturising Mask Lips - Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream and Nivea Essential Care lip balm Body – Aveeno Daily Moisturising After Shower Mist and Sanex Dermo Sensitive Skin Shower Cream
I’ve just completed my third week on 30mg of isotretinoin/roaccutane. Still no major breakouts on my face so I’m assuming I must just be able to tolerate this dose? My one month check up at the dermatologist is only a week away and I’m still feeling super positive!
Although my face is clearing up, my back still needs a lot of work. I wish i could physically take a photo but my t-rex arms won't allow it. Day 15 Thursday 3rd August Same old, same old. By lunchtime my face was starting to peel around the middle of my face and nose. I’ve switched my foundation for a CC cream which is more hydrating and it seems to be helping. Once I reapplied it, my face didn’t look that bad at all. Lips are still very dry, I find that the more I speak, the more I have to apply lip balm. I also noticed that I started to develop a lump on my chin and I also have two quite large, painful spots on my back, and one small but very red one on my chest. Day 16 Friday 4th August Today I started to feel quite flushed, like I’m entering early menopause (I’m not). I’ve found that whenever I start to experience weird symptoms like this, that if I google it followed by “roaccutane” that I usually find threads of other people going through the same thing. This was one of those cases! Although my dandruff is still bad you can’t really tell if I wear my hair down. On the bright side – day 4 without washing my hair and no dry shampoo needed. I think this is going to be my favourite part. The lump on my chin also grew a friend, directly underneath it. Although I’m calling them lumps, they’re no way near the size of the ones I’d normally get and they go so much quicker. Day 17 Saturday 5th August The dryness continues! I spent the day constantly moisturising and although I didn’t need to wash my hair because it still looked fine, I washed it anyway because I was starting to feel a bit gross. I went out for drinks (coffees and lime sodas) with some friends tonight and did my special night out face prep which so far, hasn’t failed me yet. Cleanse -> Gentle exfoliator -> Moisture Mask -> Gentle cream cleanser (to take off excess of mask) -> Spring water -> Moisturise -> Make up My face looked completely normal! My lips were feeling really tight though, and I had to reapply lip balm pretty much every 5 minutes throughout the night. I know everyone has completely different experiences, and I’ve been incredibly lucky not to have had a monster break out yet. Day 18 Sunday 6th August The two lumps on my chin had turned into white heads! I popped them. Still not sorry. This is also really embarrassing, but I’ve started to notice that my face has become quite… hairy… only light hairs, I’m not talking full grown beard, but around my chin and my cheeks/sideburn area(?), what used to be really short fair hair that I never would have noticed is becoming less and less subtle. I can’t not see it when I look in the mirror. Has anyone else experienced this? I don’t know if it’s the pill that I’m on or the roaccutane but I’m definitely bringing this up with my dermatologist at my next appointment. I think I might stop taking this pill in the meantime and ask my GP to try another one. I’m single and I’m sober so I’m not at risk of becoming pregnant. Even so, surely having a beard will be an effective enough method of contraception. Sigh. Day 19 Monday 7th August I went to see my grandparents after work; my grandma said “oh you look great! You just have one spot there on your forehead. Oh and one there on your chin. Oh and another couple on your chest. And some – no. quite a bit of dandruff!” Day 20 Tuesday 8th August I had dry eyes pre-roaccutane anyway – but today I’ve found myself reaching for my eyedrops a lot more. My eyes were extremely blood shot again and felt so tired, but as soon as I’d used the drops they felt and looked a million times better. I’m trying to drink less coffee and more water to see if this helps but I’ve never been that good at making myself drink water. Day 21 Wednesday 9th August Still haven’t washed my hair since Saturday which is incredible for me – normally I’m lucky to get two days out of it without having to reach for the dry shampoo. I’m definitely enjoying this side effect the most although the dandruff is not as fun, but that’s only really bad in the evenings. I can’t use a hair dryer as this makes my scalp dryer. I woke up late today and didn’t have time to cleanse properly and it definitely shows. It’s the driest my face has looked over the past three weeks but also the clearest. I’ve started to develop little tiny spots on my forehead too (not the one over my eyebrow – that’s a scar from a recent car accident) and as mentioned previously, I don’t normally get them there. Here are some visuals- the make-up has been on my face since 7am though, it’s now 10:30pm:
My lips are probably the most chapped they’ve been so far today. It’s nothing I can’t handle though! Products that I’ve used this week Cleanser - Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Cleanser – Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Spring Water - Avene Thermal Water Spray Moisturiser – Avene Hydrance Optimale Light Gentle exfoliator- BIODERMA Hydrabio Exfoliating Gel Moisturiser - La Roche Posay Effaclar H moisturiser Moisturising Face Mask - BIODERMA Hydrabio Masque Moisturising Mask Lips - Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream and Nivea Essential Care lip balm Body – Aveeno Daily Moisturising After Shower Mist and Sanex Dermo Sensitive Skin Shower Cream
I’ve just completed my second week on 30mg of isotretinoin/roaccutane. I can summarise this week in one word: DANDRUFF. If you’ve been through or are going through roaccuntane, please let me know how it’s going/gone, I love hearing other people’s stories and tips. Likewise, if anyone has any questions for me feel free to ask away! Day 8 Thursday 27th July I had really dry lips when I woke up this morning. I wore make up today too and although it clung to the dry patches around my nose, it wasn’t too bad. My scalp was. on. fire. I do my best not to itch it in the day but I must go to town at night because I don’t remember ever having this much dandruff EVER. My body has started to get quite itchy too. I was prone to eczema when I was younger so I’m fully expecting that to return. Day 9 Friday 28th July Woke up early and lips felt super tight so I slathered them with 8 hour cream and went back to sleep. When I woke up again a couple of hours later they felt a lot better so this stuff definitely works! My scalp, arms and legs are very itchy. I’m also noticing that I’m getting a few small whiteheads on my face and I’m starting to feel a few lumps under the skin, in particular, one next to my nose which I have a feeling is going to keep growing. We’ll see! Day 10 Saturday 29th July I woke up today with four new white heads, one of which was the lump that was growing next to my nose. I popped it. I’m not sorry. I had a party to go to tonight and I really wanted to look as normal as possible. I used a gentle exfoliator on my face to get rid of any dry skin and then tried some of the Avéne products, which oh-my-god, are incredible. I put a full face of make up on and my skin has never looked better. The only things giving me away were my incredibly flaky scalp (yuck – I had to ask my friend to be on dandruff watch) and my lips, which looked a bit dry but not overly. I’m still itchy all over, some clothing/materials make me feel more irritated than others but it’s not unbearable. Today filled me with so much hope and excitement for life post-roaccutane. Day 11 Sunday 30th July My face has never felt so smooth. The corners of my nose were quite dry when I woke up but after cleansing and moisturising I was able to sort the worst of it out. My lips felt alright this morning too, the 8 hour cream is a god send. My face is also turning a shade of pink too, so I look permanently embarrassed or hot – see chin : neck comparison below:
I feel like a broken record but my main issue in my second week has without a doubt been my scalp. I’m allergic to a lot of shampoos including head and shoulders which isn’t ideal, but I bought some T-Gel in the hope that I can introduce this once a week to keep the dandruff at bay. I go back to work tomorrow after a week off which I’m definitely dreading. Day 12 Monday 31st July Exactly the same as yesterday – although throughout the day I developed a rather large lump on my forehead and I never normally get spots there. I kind of look like I’m about to sprout a unicorn horn. I feel like this could be the start of the skin purge. Day 13 Tuesday 1st August No whiteheads but the swelling on the unicorn horn has gone down. I did notice some new spots on my back and chest, they’re like red lumps rather than whiteheads. Today my lips have started cracking at the sides and it hurts to open my mouth. My skin looked fine until about 1pm when it started to look really dehydrated. As for the scalp, I’ll just leave you with this lovely image... so sorry for the overshare.
Day 14 Wednesday 2nd August This morning my face was peeling slightly when I woke up but it was nothing the gentle exfoliator couldn’t sort out. Although I’m really starting to notice my skin drying out, my boss has complimented me numerous times this week to say how great my skin looks…? Maybe I’m just being paranoid and it’s not as bad as I think it is. Or maybe she’s just being nice. My eyes were really blood shot and dry this morning to the point where a colleague told me I looked “really shattered”. Lovely! No major breakouts to report yet. I reallllllllllllllly hope it stays that way! Products that I’ve used this week Cleanser - Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Cleanser – Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Spring Water - Avene Thermal Water Spray Moisturiser – Avene Hydrance Optimale Light Gentle exfoliator- BIODERMA Hydrabio Exfoliating Gel Moisturiser - La Roche Posay Effaclar H moisturiser Moisturising Face Mask - BIODERMA Hydrabio Masque Moisturising Mask Lips - Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream and Nivea Essential Care lip balm Body – Aveeno Daily Moisturising After Shower Mist and Sanex Dermo Sensitive Skin Shower Cream
I’ve just completed my first week on 30mg of isotretinoin. I honestly thought (hoped) it would take a lot longer for the side effects to kick in – how naïve of me. These updates may be a little chatty and long, but I wanted to give a day to day account so I personally can see when it starts to get bad (and better!). Day 1 Thursday 20th July I was advised to take the tablets with the fattiest meal of the day, so for me that’s with my evening meal. Obviously, no side effects after the first tablet but as you can see from the photo below I started on the tablets with a couple of nasty hitchhikers on my chin. Very painful but overall this is a what a good skin day looks like for me.
Day 2 Friday 21st July No side effects on day 2. I went out after work for big team drinks. I know some people drink whilst on this medication but my dermatologist advised me to be kind to my liver so I stayed on lime sodas all night. Sigh. Day 3 Saturday 22nd July No side effects on day 3. Today was really bloody sunny. I went out again for catch up drinks and dinner with some old uni friends and drank water all night. It was a late one but on a positive note, I saved a load of money. Hello silver lining! Day 4 Sunday 23rd July Woke up with a banging headache, like this was the hangover I would have had if I’d have strawpedoed a bottle of white wine the night before. It went away with some paracetamol but kept creeping back throughout the day so I just stayed in bed. The side crease of my nose was also a bit sore. The only way I can describe it is that I was more “aware” of it whereas normally I can’t normally feel it. Day 5 Monday 24th July I have a week off work this week so I had a make-up free day and just kept topping up on the moisturiser to try and prevent any dryness. My skin didn’t look dry at all today and my spots started to flatten. When my older brother saw me that evening I was greeted with “Why is your face so red?!” This is either due to that very sunny Saturday as I’ve not been wearing sun cream or possibly it’s just a side effect? I’ve read other people’s blogs where their skin has gone quite red so who knows! Day 6 Tuesday 25th July I didn’t think my skin was that dry at all. And then I put make up on. See photo below. It didn’t look that bad in person, and if this is as bad as it gets I could live with it. Sadly I know that’s not true but I can dream!
Day 7 Wednesday 26th July My lips have started to dry out a lot more and I also noticed that my scalp is really sore, it almost burns! The dandruff is excessive and not at all attractive. My skin generally looks good though - everything on my face has flattened, my chest has cleared up, my back is very scarred but everything is flat. Products that I’ve used this week Cleanser - Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Moisturiser - La Roche Posay Effaclar H moisturiser Moisturising Mask - BIODERMA Hydrabio Masque Moisturising Mask Lips - Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream and Nivea Essential Care lip balm Body – Aveeno Daily Moisturising After Shower Mist
I was 14 years old and having a sleepover at my friend's house when I realised that my skin was a noticeable problem. Not just to me, but to other people. I know her older sister won’t even remember making that comment but it’s stuck with me in the back of my mind ever since. The most frustrating part for me personally over the years hasn’t been my skin itself, but people giving me their (unwelcome) opinions and telling me why I had “bad” skin: “You don’t clean your face enough.” “You clean your face too much.” “You’re using the wrong skin care products.” “You need to clean your make-up brushes more often.” “If you didn’t wear make up, your skin would clear up.” “You need to stop eating chocolate.” “You need to drink more water” “It’s because you drink too much coffee.” “You should just cut out dairy full stop.” “You need to change your pillow cases more.” “You should go on the pill.” “You need to shower twice a day.” “You don’t wash your clothes enough.” If you’re not a medical professional, please don’t ever take it upon yourself to try to advise someone on how to treat their acne unless they ask for your advice. I wouldn’t have said I used to be particularly sensitive, but this constant uninvited scrutiny and pressure has completely knocked my confidence and made me ridiculously insecure. I’m now 24 years old and have suffered with mild to moderate cystic acne on my face, chest and back for just over 10 years. I am under no illusion that my acne could be a lot worse, but when it dictates simple things in your day to day life – how much money I spend on make up trying to cover it, how confident I felt attending meetings at work, what clothes I can buy, deciding which items of clothing that I already own that I can wear on a daily basis, whether or not I make plans with friends and even allowing myself to be comfortable enough around someone to be into a serious relationship – enough is enough! After trialling many different topical treatments, antibiotics and contraceptive pills that really didn’t agree with me, it was actually my gynecologist that suggested to my GP that I try Isotretinoin (more commonly known as Roaccutane). He was a specialist in PCOS and had seen “remarkable improvements” in his patients, and he felt like this would be a really effective solution given that my acne was not triggered by a hormone imbalance. I was really apprehensive about going ahead with the drug initially, as a friend of a friend of the family had died whilst taking it – needless to say that my family were against me taking it! However, as I started to do my research, the overwhelming success stories outnumbered the tragedies. Not just from anonymous people on forums but from friends, colleagues and classmates too. When my best friend got engaged this year and asked me to be her Maid of Honour that was the final straw. I couldn’t bare to be that person who refused to wear certain dresses because I was too insecure to have my back and/or chest “out”. I started on 30mg tablets on 20th July 2017. I’ll keep doing weekly updates on my side effects and progress as I personally found reading through these sorts of things incredibly informative and helpful. Without reading all of your journeys I wouldn’t have had the guts to go ahead with the treatment!