I started Accutane, also known as isotretinoin, when I was 24 years old. The brand name I ended up taking was absorica. I had always dealt with acne, but at this point, I was dealing with severe cystic acne. I had tried many different treatments to try and cure my acne such as Pro-activ, benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics. None of these acne treatments seemed to work. Actually in a lot of the cases it made my oily skin look very irritated. Finally, my new dermatologist suggested Accutane. A few of my friends used Accutane during high school and it worked great for them, however, there definitely seemed to be a negative stigma attached to the treatment.
My dermatologist recommended a five month treatment plan which was sure to end with clear skin. She did address the negative side effects attached to Accutane such as flaky skin, possible depression, and sensitivity to the sun. She suggested that I load up on lip balm, hydrating lotion (with spf), and sunscreen to avoid sunburns.
Each month I would have a checkup appointment with my dermatologist, take a pregnancy test (Accutane can cause severe birth defects), complete lab blood work, and take a quiz through the ipledge program. Going through these steps each month wasn’t too bad and the results I’ve seen in my skin have made it 100% worth it.
During my first month, I started to see more active breakouts in my skin. This was the purging of my skin which my dermatologist told me might happen. The first week on the medication I began experiencing some problems sleeping, but my body adjusted and things went back to normal. About two weeks in was when I really started to feel very dry lips and skin.
My second month, my dermatologist bumped me up to a higher dosage (60mg). This was something we gradually did to allow my skin time to adjust to the medication. During this month, I had one spout of dry skin accompanied by miserable stinging and itching. Thankfully an oatmeal bath really helped and my skin healed quickly.
Also, during the second month I developed a bad sinus infection because the medicine was drying out everything in my system. This caused severe nasal pressure; a Neti pot gave me some relief when trying to deal with the dryness.
By the third month I started to see significant results in my skin. I was seeing less blemishes, and my skin was clearing up leaving only a few cystic spots. During this month, I was still taking a 60mg dosage. I started to experience a little bit of lower back pain and some muscle aches during this month, but I found that some yoga helped that a lot.
During my checkup this month, I expressed concern about acne scars and we began discussing possible treatments and solutions for that. She suggested fractal laser therapy and microneedling to help with scarring. My dermatologist told me that I would be able to use a retinoid after Accutane to prevent future adult acne.
Months four and five were when I finally didn’t have any breakouts on my skin. Side effects had subsided completely. I had discovered products that kept my skin hydrated. Aquaphor for my lips was a game changer. I found that if I was very diligent to moisturize my skin day and night I didn’t have dry patches or flaking of my skin. I used a hydrating overnight face mask often to keep my skin as hydrated as possible.
Before I started Accutane, I worried about if I could wear makeup or not because my skin would be so dry. Because I was so proactive with moisturizing my skin, I found that I could wear makeup with no weird flaky patches. I also found that adding a drop of face oil to my foundation not only helped my makeup go on smoothly, but also add more moisture to my skin. I cannot stress enough how important this is while on Accutane. You WILL experience dryness while on this medication.
Overall I did not experience any major side effects while on Accutane. This was the best decision I could have made for my severe acne. I now have much more confidence and am not subconscious about my skin. I didn't suffer too many adverse effects and the ones I did were not so bad. Good luck to anyone looking to start their Accutane journey!