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One More on Sotret

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(Here is a little history)

I had been thinking of going on Isotretinoin for a while now. Actually, one of my relatives (cousin) who had cystic acne since his teens (almost like bee stings all over both his cheeks) went on it a few years ago and, of course, was delighted with the results. He has gone on it a second time since, and while his skin looks old now, or at least I think, for someone who isn't even 30 and has minor scarring, he is happy (that is all that counts right?). This is all I knew about Isotretinoin then, and, to be frank, had no major reason to do extensive research on it since my own acne at the time was merely a nuance than a problem. I didn't need more than a little Benzoyl Peroxide here and there.

I studied abroad in Spain Summer 2004 and came back a wreck from too much cigarette smoking (damn those Europeans and their 'Smoke Anywhere' policies) and cheap wine drinking. I was 6'1 and 125 lbs, and could barely go up flights of stairs without feeling like I was going to suffocate from lack of oxygen. I decided to quit, and by early 2005 was truly an ex-smoker! Soon after I began getting two to three pimples simultaneously as oppose to the occasional one, and they were taking a few days to go away. But I figured it was probably a result of my body getting rid of all the tobacco toxins, and also the anxiety (I'd been smoking since 17 or so). My best solution: use a hat and take it like soldier; my mantra: 'this too shall pass.' And then sometime in early Summer I decided to bulk up, and began using one of those weight gainers. I needed it, but perhaps it was not a good idea. I don't know if it had anything to do with it (though I suspect it did) but by summer's end my forehead was covered with some 6 active pimples at any given moment. Still, though, I felt healthier, albeit uglier, so I pulled my hat lower and trudged on. Everything went down hill from there, and soon after it was getting increasingly difficult to control new acne, and worst of all, I was getting hyper-pigmentation stains (a k a brown spots). That I could not have!

A year after I quit smoking I sought help from a dermatologist. I felt so excited too, almost like going to see him was going to relieve me from this torture instantly. Initially I was put on:

Doxy (result: flared up my otherwise non-existant back acne and gave me inverse psoriasis),

Tazorac (result: burned face with huge pimples),

Duac (result: had to stop using it after a week as the burning sensation was too much).

By summer of 2006 my face was a complete disaster. I should have asked to go on Isotretinoin, but I kept thinking that since my acne wasn't severe my Dermatologist wouldn't prescribe it. In hindsight, it was the best time to go on it too as I had just graduated from college and would spend the following 6 months doing nothing before entering Graduate school. I guess I was optimistic and kept using whatever topical treatment I was prescribed. I didn't know acne was so difficult to treat. After that I went on Triaz, Bensiq, Evoclin (which helped to control what the prior set of treatments had done), and a few others I don't recall.

I finally came to my senses and realized that my acne was not only getting on the way in terms of me having to take extra time to attend to it in my otherwise busy life but was affecting me on a much more serious level: psychologically. Because of all the 'brown spots' on my forehead I was passing on opportunities (mainly jobs, social and romantic) because I didn't want to take off my hat in public (and believe me when I say that I haven't left my apartment without it since 2005). I refuse to date just so I won't have a dude (yes, I am gay) up close to my face staring at my clogged pores and such. And I've also been settling for less than I deserve in that department as well. It is just depressing and it is not living. Besides, in a few months I have to join the real-adult-working-world where wearing a hat is not acceptable. I am petrified at what will I do then.

So, by mid summer of this year I was already giving serious though to asking my dermatologist to put me on it. My fears: he would say no since my acne is mild-moderate (and fu*k**g persistent) and the...oh yes...side effects. Before going to see him I used Tazorac for three days, plus smeared my face with baby oil in hopes I would get a serious breakout. And because acne has a life of its own, I didn't! But I went to see him anyway and, without so much as an interrogation on why I thought going on it might benefit me, he gave me the run down about having to do blood work monthly, the common side effects (dry lips, eyes and sore joints) and sent me on my merry way.

I was prescribed 30 mg Sotret, once a day. I don't even know for how long, but I do know he will be upping the dosage to 60 mg in a month or two. I took my first yesterday. I am excited, yet full of fear. I am not sure: is Isotretinoin a magic pill, question mark or exclamation point?

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