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Andrew's 'TaneBlog

Tracking my experience on a course of Accutane

Hi!

My name is Andrew, and I'm a 19yo. student in Toronto, Canada. I started Accutane treatment on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, at 40mg per day. I was recently on tetracycline and it was very hard on my digestive system as well as my eating/living schedule day-to-day. The results I had on tetracycline were mediocre, although they helped when my acne was at its worst. Acne does not run in my family, and I always had extremely clear skin until the age of 18. It seemed to happen within about two weeks-- no joke. Ever since, it's been very hard for me.

I am going to be journalling my experience, for my own sake and self-encouragement (since I hear myself better through written word) as well as to share my story.

Here's hoping for a successful and tolerable experience with Accutane, its ups, downs, side effects and positive results!

-Andrew

ps. I don't want to be over-analyzing my skin and improvement for many reasons, so I may not update at a perfectly steady rate or on a particular schedule, nor will I take many close-ups or examine my acne in graphic detail. Below is an image of my skin before beginning this treatment:

Edited by andrewharv

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Hi there, I wish you the best of luck on your course!!! So far, this has been a great choice for me.

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Journal Entry #1

May 21, 2009

So far it's going well. The first few days it rapidly cleared up my face, and much of the acne came to the surface but then disappeared within three days. Since then it's gotten a bit worse again, but I suppose that's to be expected.

About one week into treatment, I've had about three bad headaches (the first days I was on it) and I've felt a bit strange the last few days. My appetite just isn't where it was. Hopefully exercising will get me eating lots again, as I usually do. Today I am absolutely lethargic. I made myself get outside, but I just don't feel that excitement I did about being downtown in the summertime-- I am purely exhausted. I took a nap. I'm about to take another pill with a piece of pizza. A girl on these boards told me that exercising helps with the tiredness/lethargy, so hopefully things will balance out because it will also make my appetite increase. Hopefully my upset stomach will also pass soon.

I've been taking care of the dry lips with "Blistex Complete Moisture" stick, and it's keeping them comfortable. Vaseline also works. My goal is to let the dryness caused by the Accutane decrease my acne before I begin to moisturize, as I feel this could clog pores if the Accutane hasn't really begun to work strongly yet. I will just let the medication do its job without interfering. But when it does start to show results, I have LIFE Brand (a Canadian no-name brand) product which is a rip-off of Jergens gradual tanning "Daily Glow" so that I cover up the dryness and redness. I also have Cetaphil SPF15 moisturizer which I have begun using lightly when I really need it. Just as another note, I have always shaved with an electric razor. I don't know how people do it any other way. It's not the kind with rotating heads but rather with a guard that means the blades never touch your skin. It's perfect for if you have acne, atleast in my case. No such thing as a nick, cut, or any such discomfort.

One interesting note: Is it possible for comedogenic products to alter skin chemistry and therefore cause acne? Or is this at least possible in teens whose hormones already mean that it's easier to disturb the balance of their skin? I ask this because until my skin broke out, for about two years I always used gradual self-tanners (I was snow white) and some of them were terribly perfumed and heavy. They never caused issues, but suddenly my face broke out and never got better. I even wondered if it was an allergic reaction, but I was told this isn't possible because I would've had the reaction two years earlier when I began using such products. So... can pore-clogging or heavily-chemical-based products cause an acne condition? Or was my acne pure coincidence?

-Andrew

Products used:

-Advil LiquiGels

-Blistex Complete Moisture stick

-Vaseline moisturizer

-Cetaphil SPF15 Moisturizer

Edited by andrewharv

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Journal Entry #2

May 22, 2009

Feeling much better today. My roommate says my skin looks much clearer some days. Last night I applied Cetaphil moisturizer generously before bedtime so today it doesn't look dry at all. Perhaps moisturizing is not such a dangerous idea as I thought it was this early into my treatment.

As for how lethargic I was feeling yesterday-- I think partially to blame was peanut butter/pasta which I had been eating alot lately, as I had totally forgot that those foods are both foods that I have sensitivities* (similar to allergies*) to. They make me feel a bit short of breath, very tired, and anxious.

So... today I have been eating differently and I feel great. I'm out to enjoy the great weather now!

Edited by andrewharv

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Good luck, Andrew! And I had no idea Cetaphil has an SPF moisturizer!!!! I need to get me some of that. :P

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Journal Entry #3

May 26, 2009

My face is really starting to dry out more now. Not to mention my lips. I am realizing I need to get more serious about moisturizing my lips (often Blistex isn't enough; Vaseline does the trick) because the sides of my lips are getting especially dry and irritated. I want to avoid looking like the Joker from the Batman film 'Dark Knight'.

My acne has its ups and downs but I can tell it is getting out of my system, and no new places are seeing acne development. It's all going to get better from here, I sense.

I should mention that Aveeno has moisturizing body washes that are great. I used them before starting Accutane and they have continued to come through for me.

In the meantime, although not related directly to Accutane, I am going to drink less alcohol and cut Pepsi/carbonated drinks out of my diet entirely. It's causing me stomach gas and irritation which is quite irritating. I am also beginning to use a topical treatment for a yeast infection-- yes-- you hear me correctly men-- right between my buttocks. Ouchy! It was caused by none other than our favourite old friend, tetracycline antibiotic. Once again, I have realized that people need to know their body well and only take medications that they know they can handle. I am genetically predisposed to having overproduction of yeast in my body (talk to your mother or other relatives to determine this for yourself) and digestive issues. And tetracycline is notorious for making those types of problems ALOT worse. Anyways, in a week or so that problem should be fixed.

I have used a medium shade tinted moisturizer and it didn't irritate my face but rather toned down the redness and gave me a bit of colour. It gradually tans your face subtly without clogging pores very much. It's not a sufficient moisturizer so I'd suggest applying it before bedtime.

Products used to date:

-Advil LiquiGels

-Blistex Complete Moisture stick

-Vaseline moisturizer

-Qtips

-Cetaphil SPF15 Moisturizer

-Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash (moisturizing)

-LIFE Brand/Jergens Natural Glow SPF face moisturizer/tinter

Edited by andrewharv

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Journal Entry #4

May 28, 2009

So today for the first time I took 2x40mg (aka 80mg) with my supper as opposed to the 1x40mg I took for the first two weeks, as I was directed to. We'll see how this changes things. So far I feel good. I am still looking forward to crossing that threshold to the point where the accutane is working well enough that I can moisturize heavily without breakouts occurring.

Question: Does anyone have suggestions as to whether or not I should take the two 40mg pills at the same time or at different times of the day? Thanks!

Edited by andrewharv

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Journal Entry #5

June 9, 2009

It's been a little while since I did a decent update here. The 80mg dosing took my body a bit of adjusting to. The first night or two (I was already overtired, so don't read too far into this) I had confusing and terrifying sleeps with headaches, and it dried out my body quite a bit. I bought some T-Gel shampoo to deal with the itchy scalp problem that had suddenly developed. Since, the general itchiness is gone but I am now moisturizing my arms because occasionally I do discover a dry patch or eczema. But fear not-- if you hydrate yourself and moisturize your arms, this should be kept at bay.

This brings me to a very important point that is never stressed enough with Accutane users. If you want to avoid all major symptoms of this treatment, then DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Drinking lots of water is the bottomline answer that applies to everyone, folks. The days I don't guzzle water I notice-- but when I do drink lots of water, I hardly notice or spend any time thinking about my side effects. Accutane dehydrates EVERYTHING, including your joints. So hydration via water just cannot be stressed enough.

I have reached the point where I am no longer afraid to moisturize like crazy. Regularly moisturizing my face indeed makes it look better and makes healing more rapid. The tinted moisturizer tones down the redness atleast a bit so that I have a more natural or sun-kissed look.

Progress is being made although I realize I am early into my course. Last night when I washed my face I could feel no new "bumps" under my skin waiting to come to the surface, and my face seemed to be smoother, as if there was no acne under the surface-- a great feeling.

Benzol Peroxide (5% formula by SpectroGel) is something I am done with now-- it was causing unnecessary irritation and flaking. That's my last update for now. Cheers!

Edited by andrewharv

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Wow, under a month and your progress is already so good! It's nice to hear how much Accutane is helping people. I start on 40mg in two days, so I will be keeping tabs on your log- you have some great tips, especially about the water. I am horrible when it comes to drinking water, so that will be a challenge. Hope everything continues just as smoothly!

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heyy i'm glad accutane is working out for you! it gives me hope. i've only been on it for like a week and a half and i'm really hoping my acne will clear up before school starts again. having acne during high school SUCKS. seriously. btw i noticed that no one answered your question about whether you should take the two 40mg pills separately or not. i take 20 mg a day (two 10 mg pills) because i'm pretty slim 5'6 115 pounds but i think my derm will up my dose. anyway my derm told me to take one after breakfast and one after dinner but i don't think it makes much of a difference whether yout ake the pills separately or together because at the end of the day you get the same amount and it's obviously working out for you! :)

best of luck!!

xx

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Hey thanks so much! It's good to have some encouragement and I'm glad this "blog" is helping other people out too. Have hope! Accutane doesn't have to be so bad, just take it one day at a time! :)

Best of luck! :)

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Journal Entry #6

June 15, 2009

A few days have passed and life threw me a curveball-- a few nights ago I missed my accutane dose entirely for a day-- and whether or not this is the reason, since then my face hasn't been dried out at all and it broke out. I work outside and I have been sweating more the last few days, but this isn't much different from before. I don't quite know what's up-- perhaps a bit of fluctuation in skin dryness and breakouts is to be expected? It was very disappointing but here I am two days later and I have things almost back to a good level I think. The dryness is still gone though. Strange.

Having breakouts is very frustrating on Accutane, but don't give up. It seems that they are much more temporary. It seems like the Accutane just melts away the under-skin lesions/cysts really quickly. I am dating a guy who doesn't seem to even notice, and is really good about it, which really makes a difference. It's nice that when I complain about my face he doesn't even seem to understand (although on some level he must) because I find that even a compliment from a family member can be quite frustrating-- it just makes me self conscious about what my skin must have been like BEFORE starting treatment. It's funny how irritated some of us can get even from a compliment on our skin-- touchy subject, haha.

I am going to try and figure out why the dryness has gone away-- I created a thread in the Accutane section.

Products used:

-Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm

Edited by andrewharv

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I am exactly half-way through my course and I am happy to report that I am...

ENTIRELY CLEAR!!!*

(*except from redness and two zits)

It's a miracle.

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Journal Entry #7

August 25, 2009

Alright. So as it stands, on 80mg/day of Accutane for about 3 months (out of a 6 month course) I am still doing very well!

My face is already about 90% cleared up, and new spots are not forming except for a few weeks ago when I was in NYC and the weather was unbelievably hot, sweaty, and I had been using a tinted moisturizer for awhile prior.

Some notes-- I switched to Complex15 as a moisturizer as it is thinner and all I need at the moment. If needed I can reapply it to my mouth/chin area if needed throughout the day.

As for hair issues-- my hair was getting extremely dry and I couldn't even style it. I was told by a hairdresser that the oils in my hair were basically non-existent, so I stopped washing my hair except for about twice a week now. It allows me to be able to style my hair with hair wax and reapply some of it in the morning if need be. Also, it means my hair isn't so dry or itchy. Although Accutane dries up oil production in hair, by cutting back the number of times I wash my hair each week, I am seeing my hair healthier than ever.

As per usual, if you have any questions or comments or I can help you with any advice, let me know!

Products used:

-switched to Complex 15 moisturizer (lighter than Cetaphil)

-temporarily used Jergens Daily Glow tinted moisturizer (but it began to break me out eventually)

-Spectro EczemaCare (occasionally)

Edited by andrewharv

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hey!!!im sooo glad u almost cleared up!thats what i expect for me too after some months..so...yeah,im happy for u :D keep taking tane till 6th month and im sure acne will be just a bad dream...and btw...ur really handsome hehe...got a question for u...how much do u pay for 80 mg(2X40 mg) accutane?like how many $ per month?

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I live in Canada, so I don't pay a penny. It's cool getting the receipt from the drugstore saying "$0.00"...

This is also a very good time for me to pitch a "Why the USA needs healthcare for ALL!" statement but I think in a sense I already did.

I really don't know how much it would cost elsewhere. I'd call up a pharmacy and ask! :)

And thanks for the compliment haha.

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wow...ure so lucky....not paying a buck...im from europe and i have to pay 20$ for 30 pills of 10mg...:( that sux so much...well,im glad for u anyway :D its really cool to hear that ur clear.post some pics after the whole 6 months...im sure its a great improvement

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Progress Report - Photos

September 24, 2009

Talk about insanely good progress!

Early Stages of Accutane (4.5 months to go):

Late Stages of Accutane (1.5 months to go):

Edited by andrewharv

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I've been on this shit for 6 1/3 months and your skins better than mine, and mine wasn't even as bad as yours to start with :/

Good results though, happy for you, and jealous.

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Hi Andrew!

Coincindentally my name is Andrew too and I live in Toronto (as of half a year ago).

I had a couple of questions about Accutane and the Canadian medical system that I'm too ashamed to ask anyone else.

I'm 16, do I need my parents' signature/permission to obtain prescription meds?

The reason I ask this is because my parents are uber-Indian and don't understand why a male child should take any regard in his appearance. There's no point in talking to them about it. I spent a week lobbying to buy an OTC benozyl peroxide gel and they told me that that was the last time they'd buy such a thing for my face.

How do I do it? Do I go to my family doctor and ask her to prescribe Accutane? Or should I ask her to refer me to a dermatologist?

And last of all. . . Is there a list of meds that are free and a list of meds that aren't? I don't really understand. Because I have a health card and yet when the school found out that I hadn't taken Hepatitis B, I had to buy the shot from Shopper's Drug Mart for ~30 dollars and take it to my fam doc to inject it...

I don't know too many people here as yet and i don't feel comfortable bringing up the subject with any of my friends at school, so I'd really appreciate it if you could answer my questions.

Thank you,

your skin looks gorgeous!

Enjoy the confidence!

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