I'm going to do this review in sections to try to make it more helpful!
BACKGROUND/MY TYPE OF ACNE
I am a 22 year old female who has had acne for probably 10 years. My acne is not severe, in the aspect that my face was not full of severe cysts. Normally I would have 2-3 spots at a time, sometimes more, maybe up to 10 at a time. The type of acne I would get, however, was pretty severe--not just little, poppable whiteheads, but huge, painful cysts. Cysts that are not covetable with makeup and make your face hurt and make you style your hair to try to cover them or hide them with your hand while talking to someone. THESE SUCK. I KNOW :(. They last at least for weeks, sometimes months (I had one the size of a quarter at thanksgiving that is still not fully gone and its July..). These kind of bumps leave red marks if I'm lucky, but I do have a few scars.
WHAT I'VE TRIED
Just about everything. Antibiotics in highschool, did nothing. Differin, Retin A, Epiduo, Proactiv, every drugstore face wash, cream, salicylic acid. I tried spironolactone for about 9 months--it helped for a little bit and then I got some more huge cysts and was fed up so I stopped and decided to ask my derm about accutane.
IF YOU TAKE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FROM THIS REVIEW PLEASE LET IT BE TO TAKE YOURSELF AND YOUR ACNE SERIOUSLY! I ignored my acne for years and downplayed it, tried new face washes, new "home remedies", blah blah blah. IF YOUR ACNE IS BOTHERING YOU SEVERELY NOTHING FROM THE DRUGSTORE OR DEPARTMENT STORE IS REALLY GOING TO HELP YOU! It took me a lot of time and a lot of money spent to realize that! Please get yourself to a dermatologist. Another piece of advice--not all derms are created equally. Find someone who will LISTEN TO YOU! My first derm looked at my acne when I was about 15 and said "eh, I've seen worse" and then prescribed something I told her I had already tried. Find someone who will listen to you when you say whatever you're trying isn't working! Please! Save yourself from wasted money and scarring.
I finally resorted to accutane after I failed at spironolactone and the monster cyst ruined my thanksgiving.
I broke out pretty bad the first month, but nothing more than I was used to really. I started with 40mg and worked my way up to 80 mg over a course of 5.5 months. I did break out and get cysts pretty much the entire treatment. Just when I thought I was cured another big one would show up. It was soooo frustrating. However, I finished a little over a month ago and I haven't had a breakout since! Not even a tiny little pimple. (After stopping isotret I just started using a topical 12% AHA at night). This is like a new record for me, ITS AWESOME! My redness and scars are fading and I'm happy as can be! The treatment was long and NOT easy, but so worth it and I hope it lasts!
The lips,man, the lips. Until actually starting I thought people might be exaggerating about the dry lips. "I'll just stay on top of it", "put on a lot of Vaseline and I'll be fine", I thought. NOOOPPEEEEE. Within 2 weeks of starting my lips were red, swollen, burning, and cracked at both corners. Vaseline was not enough and neither was the aquaphor "lip therapy" stuff that everyone says to use--in fact it made my lips burn more. The only thing that helped me was the aquaphor extremely dry skin therapy stuff (which comes in a big jar and isn't specifically for lips. It's sort of like Vaseline but thicker, so it helped more. I had to apply this every 3/4 hours throughout my treatment and even now I apply it a few times a day. Dr. Dans cortibalm (Chapstick with hydrocortisone, an anti inflammatory agent) also helped. I had a few bloody noses and the inside of my nose was always dry and crusty. I got some eczema like rashes around my body, nothing too bad. Towards the end with higher doses I got really bad dry, red eyes which I started using moisture drops for. No hair loss, no mood swings or depression. My first month on this was spent backpacking around Europe in the winter so I was by no means "taking it easy". A month after finishing my lips are still a little dry, but all the other side effects are gone.
My skin is a lot less oily, my pores are a little smaller, and I can go MUCH longer without washing my hair. Like a week. It rocks!
Keep in mind this medication is different for everyone, some people may experience severe side effects. It just depends on the person! But don't let scary stories stop you from talking to your dermatologist about this medication, because like it helped me, it might be able to help you!
Don't give up guys :)