One thing you need to know before starting on Accutane, is that it has to be prescribed by a specialist dermatologist and it can’t be prescribed by a normal GP. I started taking Accutane because I wasn’t at all happy with the way my skin looked. To be honest, my skin wasn’t in the worst condition, but the fact that it wasn’t completely smooth or clear, really bothered me and it made me extremely insecure.
My dermatologist recommended Accutane and I was open to trying it. Before embarking on taking this medication, you really have to understand that it comes with a whole host of side effects. I will give you my experience on the side effects I personally experienced, as I can’t speak to the ones that I didn’t.
The first side effect and the biggest one that was highlighted by my dermatologist (and this affects women specifically) is that you can’t get pregnant while taking this medication. It is a teratogen, and what that means is that it causes severe birth defects. So if you are in your child bearing years (like I am), then it is very important that you take precautions.
Secondly, you will get extremely dry. My lips, nose and eyes became so dry. My skin would flake off. One piece of advice I would give is to invest in a really good lip balm and make sure you take it with you everywhere you go. This medication literally dries you from the inside out, and so normal lubrication around your joints become dry. Consequently, I experienced a lot of pain, in my back, my knees and elbows.
Light sensitivity is also a complication of Accutane. Always remember to put sunscreen on, even if you aren’t going to be exposed to the sun directly for long periods of time, wear protective clothing and wear a hat if you are going to spend time in the sun.
Be very careful if you plan on consuming alcohol, Accutane has very severe effects on the liver and patients have been known to get liver damage (I didn’t experience this) but what I did experience is being very, very sick after only a small intake of alcohol (one glass of wine). I then decided to completely avoid alcohol throughout the duration of my treatment.
Suicide and depression are known side effects of taking Accutane so if you do suffer with depression, remember to let your dermatologist know.
My dermatologist recommended that I take a really low dose, 20mg. I am assuming she did this because my skin wasn’t in a terrible condition.
Initially, you can expect for your skin to go through a purging phase, which my skin definitely did. My skin started to break out really badly and it got a lot worse before it got better. Also, during the purging phase, my skin became very oily. Before commencing treatment, I always struggled with black heads and whilst my skin was in the purging phase, the black heads became a lot worse. Once the purging phase was over, my skin started feeling a lot more soft and smooth and it became a lot drier. My black heads completely disappeared but I was left with huge pores where the black heads used to be. Over the course of my treatment, my pores got a lot smaller and my skin became a lot clearer.
Overall, my experience on Accutane wasn’t exactly the most pleasant, but I am extremely happy with the results and I would definitely go through it again. I was really insecure, and Accutane helped.
Additional information about me:
1. I am 30 years old
2. I am located in South Africa
3. Dr. Mkhado was my dermatologist
4. Cost for my accutane treatment was approximately $125