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Finally given in after 19 years of acne!

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Hi everyone

So I'm jumping on the bandwagon and am starting my own blog to chart my progress/experiences on isotretinonin (generic name for Ro/Accutane). I hope it's helpful to other people as well - I've found others' blogs hugely helpful and indeed inspiring.

A little about me first - my acne is without doubt 'hormonal'. I am a 29 year old woman, born without a thyroid gland and therefore take thyroxine everyday. I first got acne aged 10, pretty mild but unusual to have it so young. I started getting severe acne aged 15/16 and started on Dianette BCP aged 16, which cleared me up completely. I stayed on it for 5 years and came off, then acne got really bad again, so went back on, and then have been on and off since. I've been offered Roaccutane countless times but have always refused, because I didn't believe it would help my acne since it's 'hormonal'. I've tried exclusion diets, antibiotics, every topical under the sun... usual story.

Finally, after a horrible breakout after the last stint on Dianette, I have relented and am taking 20mg of this lovely drug per day. I'd say my acne is now mild compared to how it has been, but I'm taking the plunge to see if it makes any difference. I'm dubious, because I'm obviously having to take the BCP as well, so when I come off, think it will probably return. But I'm trying it.

So since I started nearly 3 weeks ago, I had a horrific headache for about 4 days - like really brain-crushingly bad - but this has subsided. My initial breakout has been mostly chin/jaw area but a few beauties on my cheek and the odd one on my forehead, where i usually never get them. My face is pretty red, I'm getting very hot and flushed and my skin on my face is more oily than usual. The skin on my body is itchy as hell. My lips look like they've been plumped with collagen and are very dry.

Mood-wise - I've noticed I have been much more 'tetchy' than usual, my low moments are lower, and when I've drunk even a small amount of alcohol - albeit only a couple of times - I have felt like absolutely crap the next day, like really depressed.

I'm using a mild, Vitamin E cleanser and toner, and Simple moisturiser. I'm also using Lucas Paw Paw ointment on dry patches. I'm putting Sudocrem on my spots which helps clear them up, and I'm taking Vitamin E capsules (800iu), probiotics and milk thistle every day. I'm also drinking 3 or 4 litres of water to combat the dehydration. Trying to exercise a lot, eat well and generally be nice to myself!

Anyway, phew that's long - well done if you're still reading! I will update as often as I can.

Good luck everyone :)

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Thanks devendralover! It's so good to have this site and all your support.

Day 20

I have to say my IB has suddenly gone a bit crazy... big, red spots on my cheeks and forehead. Not happy :(

Anyway, more soon!

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hi tuggy,

i have just started using accutane at the age of 28 and it's just nice to know there are others out there, around my age suffering the same. i hope this course works out for both of us as we started around the same time :) (May 26 for me).

good luck!


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Day 26

My IB seems to be calming down (knock on wood). Certainly the spots I had are clearing up quicker than usual. And the two deep nodules on my jaw appear to be fading... My lips are dry as hell and cracking at the sides which is gross, despite frequent slathering of Carmex. My face is quite red as well.

What I'm concerned about is my mood swings - I have had some really low moments since I started on this thing. I'm also very snappy and grouchy with everyone which isn't nice. I catch myself doing it though. Anyone else feeling the psychological effects of 'tane?

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Day 30

I can't believe it's been a month already - it's gone so quickly.

IB flared up again last week, on the chin. Made the mistake of attacking one zit and it got a bit inflamed, and then the skin around it started peeling off... How attractive. It's calming down again now but I've now got weird eczema-like rashes on my arms. My skin is itchy as hell all over and my face feels permanently hot. Face is also quite red. Lips still v dry. I hope it's worth it in the long run!

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Day 41

Having been lovely and clear for a week or so, with some nice comments from people about how 'glowy' I look, I've had another mini-IB on my chin/mouth/jawline - it came up last night. The ones on my jawline are the horrible hard lumpy things. The others have come to a head. Have to say that my spots are healing A LOT quicker than usual.

However, my skin is SO FRICKIN DRY - lovely flaky skin, mmmm.... And I'm now noticing dandruff from my dry scalp. Nice.

I'm clearly not moisturising enough - my knees were peeling the other day - how gross! Lips still dry and get sore if I don't slather them in carmex every hour or so. I'm exercising a lot at the moment and my knees are quite sore/achey but don't know if that's the 'tane or just me.

Moods definitely better - much less prone to sinking into dark depression, I think the exercise is helping my endorphins.

So far so good... I'm seeing the derm again on 4 July for an update but I hope he doesn't put the dose up to 40mg, quite liking the low dose, even if it does mean staying on for longer.

That's all from me for now folks!

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Day 57

So I hit the 8 week mark yesterday. I saw the derm the Friday before and was in there for literally 2 minutes. He asked me how things were - I said I was fine, still getting the odd zit but otherwise ok, so he wrote me another prescription and I had a pregnancy test and I was done... Still on the 20mg/day and I have to go back again in 2 months.

Skin has broken out in the last few days, but I think it's a combination of usual pre-menstrual spots and huge amounts of stress. It freaked me out a bit because my skin had been SO good for a couple of weeks. I changed cleanser a few weeks ago to Garnier Pure, and I don't know if it's that or the 'tane that was doing the trick. Anyway I am spotty again now! GRRR!!!

I think my body's getting used to the drug - I haven't had any freak outs or mood swings since the first month, and I have been super-stressed at work lately so the fact that I haven't lost it is good. I'm drinking more alcohol than I was (although only the odd glass of wine) with no terrible effects as yet (touch wood).

I asked the derm "so when will i know when it's time to stop?" because if I keep getting pre-menstrual spots does it mean the 'tane is working or not? He just said "let's just see how you go" which I take to mean "I have no clue". Hmm... anyway.

I will update again soon

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Day 77

Haven't posted for a while because my skin had been pretty much clear for a couple of weeks.

However... I'm noticing a pattern which convinces me that when I come off the tane the acne will return, because it is so clearly a hormonal imbalance that causes my acne. I seem to break out usually around the chin and also upper cheek bone on both sides about a week before my period. Then skin calms down, then breaks out again over my period.

Having said that the pre-menstrual breakouts I'm having are clearing quicker and at least I'm not getting spots other than that...

Side-effects wise, lips and skin still dry but otherwise am ok...

that's it for now!

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So I haven't posted in 6 or so weeks... mostly because there hasn't been much to update on. My skin is pretty much clear (touch wood!!)...

I went to the derm at the end of 4 months and he said I should continue on 20mg/day for another two months. Slight concern however is that I haven't had any tests since I started... apart from pregnancy tests. Like, no liver function, blood, cholesterol etc... I asked if I should have a test and he said 'only if you want them'.. guess I should have insisted but he was so laid back it was weird. And he said not to come back for a follow up at the end of 6 months... has anyone else had such a laid-back derm??!!

So it's all good. Even the pre menstrual occasional zits I was still getting seem to be getting less... I guess the test will be when I come off the 'tane and Dianette... then we'll really see if it's worked.

One thing, I was on holiday in Italy recently and though I wore SPF 30 all the time I managed to get an amazing tan - my skin is still quite dark, not sure if it's the tane or what... i don't normally tan very well.

Anyway hope you're all doing well! :)

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woah!! your doctor isn't doing any bloodwork for you?!?!

go get a new dermatologist and a blood test ASAP. yes, you should have insisted (although it is your doctors responsibility to be insisting) on doing bloodwork.

not to scare you but accutane is such a dangerous drug, blood tests are mandatory each month and i dont know why your doctor seems to think otherwise. please go get checked out for your own health.

followups are very necessary, this derm does not seem to give a shit, you need a new one.

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woah!! your doctor isn't doing any bloodwork for you?!?!

go get a new dermatologist and a blood test ASAP. yes, you should have insisted (although it is your doctors responsibility to be insisting) on doing bloodwork.

not to scare you but accutane is such a dangerous drug, blood tests are mandatory each month and i dont know why your doctor seems to think otherwise. please go get checked out for your own health.

followups are very necessary, this derm does not seem to give a shit, you need a new one.

My thoughts exactly.

This guy is not doing you any favors, get another derm ASAP!!

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Thanks guys, I know I should have insisted, I was just kinda freaked out by how laid back he was... I will go back and get tests done.

Having said I didn't have any side effects, my hip joints are absolute agony right now. It hurts even to walk. I don't know if it's the accutane or what, but I'm in pain! My old injuries are also hurting now, like my collar bone I broke 7 years ago.... is this normal?? (BTW I did ask my derm about this and he dismissed it.. hmmm... the more I think about this the more I realise I need a new derm!)

Other side effect is absolutely crap short-term memory. I am forgetting names of basic household objects, places and people I know really well, and I'm forgetting things at work. Is this a 'tane side effect? I am quite worried...

My skin, however, is AMAZING!!

Thanks y'all!! Appreciate your support and advice as always


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holy shit. stop taking accutane if it hurts to walk!!!!

did you not get a bloodtest yet?!?

please, go get one right away.

yes, it is highly likely that accutane is causing your joints to be in a lot of pain.

if i were you i would discontinue treatment immediately.

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Hi people

So... I'm done. I actually finished about a month ago and all seems good so far...

My skin is clear, my lips are back to normal and my joints no longer hurt (although I did start taking glucosamine & chondroitin tablets which helped).

It was so worth it and nowhere near as bad as I feared. It'd be easy to say I wish I'd done it 10 years ago and saved myself years of hell, but I had to be ready. It was a difficult decision, but I'm very glad I did it and just hope and pray that *this is it*... no more acne.

Good luck to everyone else on this journey!

:-) :-) :-)

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