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Acutane, my miracle drug!?

Hi y'all,

My name is Aimee and I'm a junior in college.

I've struggled with acne- since oh goodness I have no idea- I think at least by the time I was 12.

It was at first just my forehead- I had hundreds and thousands of tiny little pimples all over my forehead- oh I hated it. I think (if I remember correctly) I first started using benzyl peroxide creams- which seemed to work but since my first pimple showed up I have NEVER had clear skin. My mom struggled with acne when she was younger- so she was willing to let me try anything (she told me that the only thing that helped her acne? getting pregnant with me and after she had me, her skin cleared. Now I dont plan on having kids for a looooooong time)- which has been great and let me tell you I have tried EVERYTHING...

For example for a while I tried taking oral antibiotics, but they were alright- and yes I've tried Proactiv- I started that when I entered college, until then my mom didnt want me on it because she had heard it could really dry out your skin and even cause bleaching of the skin. But that wasnt that amazing- I still use the mask at least once or twice a week. Which seems to help but as I said, I havent had clear skin as long as I can remember. I also tried Murad- which is pretty awesome- but at times it dries my skin and once again it didnt completely clear out my skin. I tried Retin-A/Tretinoin and they're alright- but once again didnt completely clear out my skin.

Oh and although my acne was just my forehead in my early teens...which then became my T-zone and then once I got into high school (especially the later years) it spread to my cheeks. And then once I got in college it spread to my back and then horrible red pimples on my cheeks (before they werent red, but lately they are more red).

Oh and I have really bad eczema- Aveeno is my favorite thing.

And I've had several really really really bad "breakouts" with my acne/skin-first was in my first year in high school, I had a horrible rash around my WHOLE body, it was horrible, this was ruled as eczema. And then right when I started my senior year in high school I had another horrible rash/who knows what around my chest area- I had allergy tests- which came out negative and the derm at the end said it was from stress- which was understandable because I was getting ready to apply to colleges and life was really stressful. And then my third breakout happened right before senior prom (I know such amazing timing, right?!). And it was on my neck- it was horrible- like really bad- when I had my makeup done for prom the makeup artist wanted to know if I wanted anything done to it- but I told them no, the last thing I wanted was a reaction to the makeup. This somewhat died down by the time summer rolled in but right before I was starting college I had another horrible breakout of acne on my neck and chest- this was when I started Retin-A. When I got to college I went to a derm, because the Retin-A wasnt really helping out and I didnt want to be the girl known as the breakout on my neck and chest- horrible. So I went to the health services on campus and then they referred me to a derm.

And here...I was first told that I might want to try Acutane. And oh goodness was I excited. I had heard that Acutane- although has side effects- is quite the miracle drug when it comes to acne. I had never thought my acne would be considered "severe" enough for me to be placed on it- but the derm I saw told me he highly recommended it. If I remember correctly he said, "I'm telling you this as if you were my younger sister, Acutane is what I recommend." Especially because birth control pill has been COMPLETELY ruled out for me by my family. The reason (as what I've been told so far) is it increases risks for blood clots and blood clots run in the family- also it could cause people to gain weight. So I started the whole process, did a blood test and when my blood result came out I was told that one of my hormone levels was really high and I should have this taken care of first. Well short story short- the endocrinologist I was referred to was off campus and the derm I was referred to (the one that said I should go on Acutane) was off campus too. And with no car it would have been a PAIN in having to go to the doctors once a month to get urine checked and everything.

So that was my FIRST experience in almost getting Acutane. And now at the present...my back has been pretty bad- and what really sucks is I get eczema really easily so I really have to watch out how much Tretinoin I put on my back- cause if I put too much my back becomes a mess. And I have a few bumps currently on my chest. My face? I have several red bumps on my cheeks, my forehead still has hundreds and thousands of little bumps - in other words...I have acne and I want it GONE! I want CLEAR SKIN! I'm so jealous of the people around me who have clear skin. My grandparents constantly try to find me new things- but nothing really works. I can pile on layers of makeup but you can still tell I have acne. boo.

And I'm going through another stressful time- I'm pre-med and I'll be taking the MCATs next spring, and then applying to medical school (although I'm pretty sure I wont get in my first time around and have plans on doing other things). But my point is I'll be going through another hell and I'm so sure my skin will continue to break out and I would LOVE it if my acne was one less thing to stress out about...

ANYWAY my point?

I have an appointment with a dermatologist on December 2nd and I'm thinking of asking if I could go on Acutane. The derm this time is on campus, so it wont be a hassle in having to go there on a monthly basis- so no worries about that.

I'm just tired and stressed about my skin and I'm hoping acutane is my miracle drug....

but...I'm also worried... because I've heard so many stories- both good and bad about it.

So I was wondering if people could help me answer a few questions about it...like

1) Would you recommend it?

2) What are the side effects you've experienced with it?

3) How did you cope with the side effects of Acutane?

4) Did you still keep on using creams and masks while you were on acutane? Or would it just cause your skin to dry out more?

5) Is it THAT bad for your liver? Cause I've heard it really messes up your liver. Is it really worth taking Acutane and mess up your liver?

Any kind of help/tip would be great!

Thanks! <3

Edited by Aimee21

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1) Would you recommend it? YES YES YES!

2) What are the side effects you've experienced with it? Dry lips, dry skin, joint pain

3) How did you cope with the side effects of Acutane? aquaphor, cerave, and aleve

4) Did you still keep on using creams and masks while you were on acutane? Or would it just cause your skin to dry out more? My skin dried out just like you hear about. With CeraVe moisturizing cream and neosporin I have not had any peeling of my skin. But for the first time I can not wear powder and my makeup still looks flawless at the end of the day (even liquid eyeliner!)

5) Is it THAT bad for your liver? Cause I've heard it really messes up your liver. Is it really worth taking Acutane and mess up your liver? No, it's not that bad. Stay on a healthy diet and avoid alcohol. The liver is one of your most resilient organs and once you go off accutane it will absolutely bounce back.

Btw, I weigh about 62 kg (140 lbs) and took 60 mg for 6 months. When you get your dosage, you want it to be about the same as your weight (mine was a little lower, but it worked like a charm!).

Any kind of help/tip would be great!

Thanks! <3

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So today I went to my dermatology appointment and got the OKAY to start Accutane!

Of course I have to wait a month to actually start it- I'll be going to get my blood work done next week (because I'll be gone for winter break and wont be back till the 10th of January).

But I'm so excited!!!! Although I was hoping that I could start Accutane during winter break- and let my body adjust to it before I start classes...but oh well...

So this part may be slightly TMI and I apologize-but as many of you are aware if you're a "female patient who can get pregnant" - to be on Accutane you have to have 2 methods of birth control. Well a little bit about me- I'm not sexually active and dont plan on being until I'm married (at least engaged), I know I'm old fashioned, a prude, whatever- but I want to make sure that its special- I waited 18 years for my first kiss, so I'm a really big person on making things "special". Anyway my derm first had an issue with me saying I dont want to be on birth control and that my method of birth control would be abstinence- my family is worried that I would gain weight and I'm already on the heavy side (according to my family- my mother's parents are Japanese and according to them I'm "heavy" because I eat a lot, although I know I'm not really "heavy" I'm 5'2" and weigh about 115pds) and blood clots run in the family. But at the end my derm consulted with another doctor and I got the okay that I could use abstinence as my method of birth control. I had to write that "I, Aimee, am committed to abstinence and understand the birth defects while on accutane." and then sign & date.

I just thought it was interesting how worried my derm was and when we talked about my "sexual activities" (or I guess my lack of) she would whisper.

So my next appointment is on the 13th of January when *hopefully* I'll get my first dose of Accutane! So excited! But I am worried about something...very worried- so my derm wants me to go on a 5 month plan. Which means I'll be on Accutane from January 15th-ish till about June 14th.

Now...I'm planning on going to France on May 9th for about 3 weeks for a French literature class the my school offers....but...my last appointment to get my last prescription of Accutane wont be till around May 15th- meaning I'll be in France (or I hope to be!)...now I'm worried that this might mean that I wont be able to get the prescription for my last month! That would be awful! Has anyone else been in this situation? Would I be able to get my last prescription a week in advance? I called my derm's office but they havent gotten back to me....

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1) Would you recommend it?

2) What are the side effects you've experienced with it?

3) How did you cope with the side effects of Acutane?

4) Did you still keep on using creams and masks while you were on acutane? Or would it just cause your skin to dry out more?

5) Is it THAT bad for your liver? Cause I've heard it really messes up your liver. Is it really worth taking Acutane and mess up your liver?


2) Dry lips and if I wash my face with something harsh it gets dry and I need to moisturize it.

3) lip balm, vaseline on lips at night before I sleep, and regular facial moisturizer occasionally after I wash my face (normally just rinse it off since it is so oil free now).

4) I moisturize, never used a facial mask so not sure.

5) That is a possible side effect, my liver numbers are still right where they were (slightly lower actually last time) when I started.

I kept holding off on doing Acctane myself and now I regret it because I could have had clear skin for a while now. If your acne won't respond to anything else I would highly suggest it, the dry lips REALLY sucks after a while but it is definitely worth it.

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Thanks for the replies!

I cant wait to actually start Accutane! I hate that I have to wait a whole month to start it...especially because I'm already practicing abstinence so I dont see the use in having to wait a month...oh well stupid Ipledge system.

So no creams or anything while on accutane? What about all the initial breakouts though? I dont plan on using Retin-A (thats what I have right now) at night because I know it can be pretty harsh on the face. And during the day I'm using Clean & Clear's salicylic acid gel, (my favorite salicylic acid gel is Neutrogena's but it tends to dry my skin out when I use it)- which I'm guessing I shouldnt be using once I start Accutane... but what about a mask once a week (like Proactiv's mask). I usually use a mask at least twice a week- I'm right now really liking Neutrogena's cleaner and mask- all in one- its benzoyl peroxide- which I've heard I should definitely not use while I'm on accutane because it would dry out my skin. And I dont know about the other people who've used it- but sulfur doesnt dry out my skin like benzoyl peroxide.

I wouldnt usually be this worried about the initial breakout - but the spring semester is when all the fraternity formals are! And this one guy I'm kinda interested in...his fraternity has their formal in February...so the last thing I want is to have a big red zit on my face. I'm not looking into having clear skin by then (as I've never had clear skin as long as I can remember- oh gosh I cant wait till I start Accutane and hopefully *crossing my fingers* have clear skin by the time I'm done with my treatment!) but I dont want to have big huge zits all around my face that I cant control.

I talked to my derm's office if I can get my prescription early and they told me its so far in the future I shouldnt worry about it...easy for them to say, but the last thing I would want is to start my treatment and then not be able to finish my last month because I'm going out of the country and cant have my lab work done at the exact time I'm suppose to get it done...

Ah I cant wait!

Oh and other questions...what do people think about taking supplements? Is it necessary? Which would you recommend?

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So I'm on DAY 12 with accutane! (yay!)

I'm really excited...but its also slightly stressful because I'm definitely breaking out (I'm not sure if there are the initial breakouts everyone- including my dermatologist- warned me about or if its because its about the time of the month for me which is when my skin flares up the worst...or it might be stress- yay in being a pre-med student!) I just keep telling myself that I just have to get through the first couple of months and then I should have CLEAR SKIN!

I'm so tempted to put something on my face...like a mask or something...but I know it dries out my skin and I know I shouldnt. I also want to call my derm and ask...but I'm worried that if I complain that I might be taken on a lower dose or something (or I wont go on a higher dose for next month)...grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I kinda hate having to show my face to other people too...(I know it sounds ridiculous) but I hate it when my acne is all flared up- theres this guy I'm trying to kinda get me to notice (I know sounds ridiculous, but true) I asked him to my sorority function in the fall- he couldnt make it and it sounded like he was interested in hanging out...but we never did, but his fraternity formal is coming up so I'm trying to get on his good side again. He did say him to me today! (yay!) But I didnt feel my confident self knowing I have so many zits all over my face (which isnt anything that new, but before I could actually put a mask on and control them...) I apologize for my mini vent I just dont want my skin to be the reason why he wouldnt ask me or pursue me more- which I know sounds really shallow, but I'll be honest I wouldnt want to date someone that has really really bad skin, I mean I have acne myself so I know its hard, but I would want to date someone who has it somewhat under control and right now I look like I dont have it under control...(frustration)

Oh so a few things I've noticed since I've started Accutane...

1) Definitely dry lips- I'm applying chapstick about every 30 minutes.

2) Contacts = not the smartest thing & eye drops being one of my new favorite things.

3) The first week or so when I was on it I would sleep for a good 10 hours a night- and this worried me a bit because as a college student (and planning on taking the MCAT in April, although I might postpone it because I dont think I'll be ready) I cant be sleeping 8 hours every single day. So for a while I REFUSED to sleep in my bed- I slept in my sleeping bag on the floor (I know strange, but I was worried that if I slept in my bed I would sleep for 8-10 hours because its more comfortable). I'm not sure if it is related to Accutane or if I was just genuinely tired because of stress or something. And now, its about 6-8 hours (if I'm in my bed). But I dont feel as tired as I used too.

4) My skin isnt as dry as I thought it would be...In the past I had really really really (I could go on forever) eczema aka dry skin. So I was honestly worried that Accutane would just be hell on my skin. But luckily it hasnt- of course I put lotion on after I shower and right when I change out of my pjs into my day to day clothes...but I thought it would be worse, much worse. Like I would be flaky (if that makes sense) all over and just be itchy because of dry skin. But luckily it hasnt been that bad at all. Because when my eczema was bad- it was really really bad I had to apply lotion every couple of hours and I had little red bumps everywhere- so awful.

5) Oh...I got kind of worried yesterday. So I had a really really bad headache and life was awful. And I know that one of the cautions of Accutane is increased brain swelling/ pressure/ clot (I believe) and it could be very very bad for you. But the thing is I get migraines very frequently. I had a neurologist back when I was in high school because they were pretty awful. I guess my brain has these things that are very common in migraine patients, I dont remember exactly what they are...but anyway. I told my derm about how I get frequent headaches and migraines and she told me to only worry if they feel different then my usual headaches- and they havent been, they've been pretty manageable (although I might have been slightly irritable and unsocial)

Oh so my questions...

Ladies- this one is for you!

So makeup...I've been using Neutrogena this whole time- more specifically their one with salicylic acid (both liquid and compact) Now I know you're not technically suppose to use any kind of salicylic acid or anything when you're on Accutane...but I've still be using the compact (I'm about 1/2 done with it and I dont want to keep it out for the next several months...because then it just gets older and older- if you know what I mean) I put on concealer (which has no salicylic acid or the like, I got it from the Body Shop) and then liquid foundation (by Neutrogena but no salicylic acid or the like) and then my compact...it hasnt dried out my skin so far...and it only has .5% (which in my book is practically nothing at all) and its the last thing I put on my face...should I stop? Is this a big deal?

Thanks in advance!

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Hey :)

I'm currently 4 months into Accutane and have suddenly started seeing the results!

My skin is blemish free, matte and soft. Admittedly I do still have the scars from months back, but I'm very fortunate because my skin doesn't pit.

so that's the good part..

However, if you already have eczema, then coping with the symptoms may be a lots harder for you. I only ever had eczema on my eyelids, but immediately once I began taking Accutane I had it ALL over my face, arms, neck, and ears.

I have found methods that work for me in treating my eczema, but yours may be a lot more resistant to treatment.

I've just begun a youtube channel, where I plan to give medical AND natural remedies for acne and Accutane symptoms if you'd like to check it out. I've only just begun so there's not much content yet.

My username is WennaCraze.

Hope I can help!

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