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Documenting success of Accutane for 22yr old female with moderate to severe acne on face, neck, and back

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Day 64

update - didn't take any pics in may. but i think these photos have shown that things have generally improved. my back still is red and scarred, but way less active spots.


this photo looks small, so just to edit, here's a big photo of my the day i started accutane:


and today, close up:




Day 62

So - interesting process of getting Amnesteem this month. It cost me $635 for a 30-day supply of 60mg (40mg + 20mg pills). I am on Cobra insurance extension, and it had not been processed within the seven day window so I was out of Amnesteem and needed to get it by midnight, so I had to pay and am returning to the pharmacy so they can resubmit the order and reimburse me for part of the money today. I hope it goes smoothly.

The price of drugs and insurance is crazy. I am researching insurance for myself, and it costs about $4000/year minimum based on my age/weight/habits, although I am not certain that is super great coverage that would cover all my dermatological needs. For now, I am on Cobra until Accutane is over as it would be considered a pre-existing condition by another plan. So, I just began my third month and am hoping to finish the cycle by Aug 30.

But, I have to say, coming from having moderate/severe acne, I will do anything to stay on track with this medication, because my skin has improved so much. It's so much easier to get up in the morning when my face isn't covered with massive pustules and my back isn't all lumpy. Having acne took a SEVERE hit on my self-esteem - not for awhile, it was when I'd had it for about 4-5 years that I was like "really, still? this is still happening to me?" that i got really insecure about it and really couldn't stand it. I felt like I didn't have any control over myself and adopted a "what's the point?" mentality, and didn't even try to look good ever because I felt sooo ugly no matter what I did. I don't feel like as much anymore.

Right now, I have a few spots on my chin and forehead - like super small things. Mostly just redness and small whitehead things. My cheeks are really clear - like the redness discolorations are continuing to disappear. That's the most noticeable thing for me - everyone has commented on it, even co-workers. Usually someone acknowledging my acne makes me want to DIE, but...I'm getting over it.

My back is OK - again, the discolorations are fading. But, I have had a few active spots back there in the last 2 weeks.]

I hope this continues. I will post pictures soon.


Day 52

Things are OK again - breakouts on my back from last 2 weeks are gone. Have a few spots on my face, but nothing awful. And they're more surface-y spots, not cysts.

Cheeks feel like redness is just fading still. Chest still has one spot, the same one that's been around for like 1.5 weeks.

What I do want to talk about is this process of the medication.........

It's a pain!

I was told this month by my derm that I need to take my monthly pregnancy test EXACTLY 30 days apart, but I haven't been doing that so far, and no one's said anything. I feel like the rules keep changing, and it's hard to find a straight answer in the iPledge book, on the site, or from my doctor. Usually it's 3 different answers.

I already paid for one test, and I have to go get another. It's been VERY frustrating and I think the iPledge program is very invasive.

I realize this is what I need to do to be on Accutane (the monthly visits, blood tests, surveys, strict pick up rules, etc), but all this wrong information is costing me money and time that I don't have to spare - I'm buying my own insurance and I'm an hourly worker.

Anyone else had issues with the process? I realize rules might vary state to state..


Day 43

Just wanted to update as things have changed...

I am breaking out again! I have 3-4 spots on my back that are quite painful, and one on my chest, and one on my face. Granted, this is less than it used to be when it was at its worst, but still, this is the most I've broken out so far on Accutane. Could have something to do with the upping of the dosage from 40mg to 60mg 13 days ago. Also, I've been running a ton, so that could be part of it - my back breaks out when I run and don't shower immediately afterward.

Also wanted to share this:

This lip balm has helped A TON - today, I have no peeling so far. This is helping so much more than Aquaphor did - active ingredients are shea butter and jojoba oil.

One more than: OTHER than the one spot on my face, my skin is overall way better. The spot if on my chin, and my cheeks are like rosy and smooth and I feel like the spots and scars went from angry purple to red to light red and now they're kind of pink. i hope they go away forever!


Day 38

So, I was upped to 60mg by my dermatologist.

Good things happening now:

Clear skin - face and back are both almost completely clear. Almost no active spots.


Dryness - crazy, crazy dryness still. Lips are SOOOO chapped. Last week my cheeks were peeling pretty bad. My skin is literally just like falling off my lips in chunks. I know that's gross to say, but's bad.


Day 27

I know I just posted, but I wanted to post again because I went to my dermatologist yesterday.

He took photos of my face from the same angle he took photos at my first appointment a month ago - I've been on Accutane for almost a month now. I must have miscounted the days, because today is Day 27, so when I posted two days ago, it was Day 25, not 23. Sorry.

The transformation was AMAZING. Yes, my skin still isn't great. But seeing the photos of a month ago next to photos from right now was crazy. A month ago, on my back, I had two very active spots. On my face, I had active spots/patches. Now, I although my back is still scarred and red, and I have one small active spot, when the two pictures were compared, the redness from the old picture was just AWFUL compared to yesterday's photo. Yes, there's still tons of pinkness, and some active spots, but overall, my face had much less contrast, is what I'm trying to say I guess. The red spots a month ago were dark and angry, and yesterday any problems were light pink - not like almost purple.

I was upped from 40mg/day to 60mg/day, in the form of a 40 and a 20, so two pills. I hope this improvement continues.


Day 25

Sorry its been so long since I've updated - there hasn't been much to say.

Skin is pretty dry and lips are SO SO dry. I apply Aquaphor like 10-15 times per day. In the last few days, the skin around my mouth and nose has been peeling, but I've been trying to combat with Olay and Jojoba oil.

I've also been using a clarisonic style brush on my face which **rocks** - I feel like I get my face so much cleaner. I wash at night until there's no orange makeup coming off onto the brush, so I know my face is really clean. Before, I don't think i was actually getting all my foundation and cover up off.

I saw my family for the first time in awhile this past weekend and they all commented that my skin looked great.

My roommate has also commented on it, except I get really excited about it and get in her face and go "HOW GOOD DOES MY SKIN LOOK??" so I'm pretty much pushing her into it. Can't help myself, I'm excited.

Things have been BETTER since I feel like I can get up and not hate my face. Seriously.

I have a few whiteheads right now (no nodules, nothing deep) and that's the worst it's been in weeks.

But, I will say that I know the trend with Accutane can be that it gets worse before it gets better, so I'm fully prepared for there to be a period of not so great skin, whether it be on my face or my back, coming up here soon. I'm almost afraid to be too optimistic.

The biggest downside right now: dry, dry, dry, dry lips. SO dry.

The biggest upside: clear skin!

Haven't experienced any mood swings yet.


Day 12

A few updates:

Face is still clear - no breakouts at all. Still have lots of redness and discolorations, but no active breakouts.

But - this is a big but - there are two very active, painful, bright red spots on my chest and collarbone. Both are coming to a head. The collarbone one is big and the chest one is smaller. but both are SO red - and, at least for now, isolated.

weird. and painful.



Day 07

A few updates:

Last night my face was so, so dry. Like just peeling. It wasn't cracked or anything - I think I caught it before it got bad. Slathered on Olay moisturizer with jojoba oil. It burned, but when I got up this morning, it wasn't too bad. Washed my face and applied more moisturizer this morning and as I'm at work, I'm wearing Almay foundation, concealer, and powder.

Got a pretty bad bloody nose yesterday - think it was due to dryness.

I know this blog is boring, I will probably wait to post until about Day 15 or if anything changes.


Day 05

I will take dose 5 of Amnesteem tonight - I know I'm still in the very beginning stages, but here's how I feel:

1. My eyes are dry and red

2. My skin is peeling in some spots on my face

That's it so far. As far as my skin goes, I had a few spots - one on the chin, one on the cheek and one on the forehead. They have mostly dried out, although the cheek spot looks like it's deciding wether to retaliate or just go away. My back is pretty dried out as well.

At this point, my biggest fears are this:

1. My acne will get worse in the next 1-2 months before getting better as is known to happen on Accutane

2. Hair loss

3. Mood swings and depression

Speaking to #1 - I am just so READY for my skin to be better now, because it took me like 5 months to get on Accutane. I had my first blood test the first week of January, and started the meds March 29. I stared birth control in November to prepare for the Jan blood test. I had to take a lot of time off work for face stuff, and then I was unemployed for 2 months (just started a new job yesterday), but I spend a chuck of my time unemployed doing stuff for Accutane: getting blood tests, dermatologist appointments, calling my dermatologist to clear up confusion re the process - I think I spoke to them about 20 times on the phone. I found the process of getting on the drug so frustrating and invasive.

I'm also going to try to eat less sugar and processed foods while I'm on Amnesteem - I want to make a sustainable change, so I'm going to change things slowly and not diet. I know myself - if I say no coffee, yeah, that's not going to happen. My goal for this week: drink more water and less soda/coffee, and do 20-30 minutes of exercise a day.

- Bgh


Day 03

Day 03 -

Woke up this morning with dry skin, but it's not awful yet. I slathered my lips with Carmex before going to bed, and traded in my usual 2.5% Benzyol Peroxide for just moisturizer and Jojoba oil. I woke up with dry patches in my skin, and my back has dried out. My legs feel itchy and flaky. I am usually a dry skinned person, and I feel I'm DEFINITELY going to be someone who is affected by the dryness side effects. So I purchased:

Aquaphor Lotion (Active Ingredient Petrolatum 41%)

Aquaphor Lip Balm

Dove Bodywash

Gold Bond Triple Relief For Extra Dry Skin (Active Ingredients Dimethicone 5% and Menthol 0.5%)

Here's a pic of my arsenal:


As far as cleansers and products go, I use:

Proactiv Cleanser with a (generic) clarisonic brush, 2.5% benzyol peroxide lotion, Proactiv toner

Olay Complete Moisturizer

Jojoba Oil (basically this is the stuff from the Regimen - tried different cleansers from the regimen, but Proactiv works best for me)

BACK - BenzePro 9.8% Benzyol Peroxide Foam

Here's what my skin looks like today:


Honestly, this is not that bad for me. As you can see, I have blotchy redness and discolorations from past breakouts. But, my active breakouts today are only about 3-4 and are drying out. This is all coverable with makeup....the real issue is..the back. Here's a pic:


So, this is pretty bad for my back. There's that one big active red spot there that's quite painful.

So - this is what I look like on Day 03 of Accutane, here's hoping for an improvement soon!

I will continue to post to cover how Accutane works for me, the side effects I suffer and best solutions I find, and continue to share pics of *hopeful* progress.

- Bgh


Day 02

Took Day 01 of Accutane (actually generic Amnesteem) yesterday - starting at 40mg for 161 pound 22 year old female with moderate to severe acne on the face, neck and back.

Breakdown of acne at beginning of treatment:

BACK - Depends on day - sometimes back will be fairly clear, other days not so much. Typically, deep cysts or nodules will form on my upper back and last about a week. They don't come to a head, but they are very deep and generally the size of a penny or smaller, but are encircled by red rings and diamater can be up to the size of a quarter or larger, if there are clusters of a few in one place. They tend to form only on my upper back -like the top 2 inches of my back only.

ARMS/CHEST - Has been bad, but never nodules or cysts. For a few weeks in December, my arms were covered in whiteheads - who knows why? And my chest can get cysts once in a blue moon.

FACE - There's always something - sometimes it's a nodule/cyst on the cheek or forehead, sometimes it's just a whitehead on the chin or between the eyebrows. The WORST part is the neck, jawline, by me ears - that's where nodular and cystic acne forms.

At this very moment, I have 4-5 large, deep nodules on my back - really not that many active ones, but the redness makes it look very bad. I have a mess of some lighter acne on my forehead, in a spot where there's been outbursts for weeks. I have a large lump on my nose, and a recovering whitehead on the right side of my chin, and 2 lumps on my jawline and neck - left side of jawline and right side of neck.


This is the best photo of my back I could get by myself...that one large nodule is as bad as it gets for me. the way my back is this week i would rank as being in the top 5 worst breakouts ever. So...again I would consider myself moderate to severe, 22 years, what i have is adult acne, female, 161 lbs, 5'7'', very active.

About to take Day 02 of Accutane.

I already feel some dryness on my legs, face, lips, and eyes. Going to get eyedrops and chapstick tonight.

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