I have had acne for 6 years now. I never had severe acne, but I had persistent moderate acne. While in high school, I used every kind of skin care. I tried all-natural skin care, Cetaphil, high-end skin products, acne-fighting lotions, including the acne.org system, and even Korean acne treatments . None worked and I was left with irritated oily skin.
When I got to college, my diet did not change drastically but my skin began worsening significantly. I tried sticking to products with fewer ingredients but nothing worked. I even tried eliminating dairy from my diet for a couple of weeks, but again, nothing happened. I finally decided it was time to seek professional help and scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist. The dermatologist prescribed me antibiotics combined with a topical cream. The antibiotic was called Solodyn (a type of minocycline) and the topical cream was named Ziana Gel. While these two medications helped improve my acne, my skin was still far from clear.
I was on antibiotics for over a year, at which point it was suggested I go on Accutane. My doctor immediately agreed it would be the best course of treatment for me, but since I wasn't taking birth control pills, I had to wait 2 months. The reason I had to wait two months, is because Accutane protocol requires that you take birth control for 2 months prior to starting your treatment. This is because if you're impregnated while you're taking Accutane, your baby will be born with severe birth defects. To prevent this, you're required to always use two forms of contraceptives. For this reason, I would advise anyone contemplating taking Accutane down the road to get on birth control prior to visiting your dermatologist. Birth control has also be shown to be effective helping prevent adult acne.
Before speak about my experience with Accutane, I wanted to answer a question that I'm frequently asked: Were you scared to take Accutane with all of the severe side effects people talk about? I can honestly say that I was not that scared about the possible side effects, like headaches, hair loss, very dry skin, etc., I might experience while on Accutane. I had read many reviews which stated that the side effects weren't as bad as most people claimed and people raved about the effectiveness of Accutane.
Once I started Accutane, I did not see results until late into my fourth month of treatment. During this time, I was extremely nervous and frustrated that it might not work because I had truly tried every treatment under the sun. I was on 30 mg for the first month and 80 mg (40 mg twice a day) for the remainder of my course. I did see my skin slightly improve during the first month of treatment, but from there it was stagnant. I never had that feared initial breakout many people speak about when they start Accutane. In fact, at the end of my third month is when I saw a few more blemishes/had a mild breakout. I believe this was when my skin started to purge and things took a turn for the better.
It's not been a month since I finished my treatment and my skin is finally perfectly clear. I did still get one blemish before my menstrual period but I’ll take one hormonal pimple over persistent acne any day. My Accutane only cost $5 each month with a coupon I got from my dermatologist. Definitely ask if they have coupons, because this made the treatment incredibly affordable (much cheaper than my antibiotics and more effective!)
As far as side effects: I definitely experienced side effects. I had back and joint pain when I picked anything up. However, I already did have back pain/stiffness before my treatment. I had extremely dry lips and my entire body was incredibly dry. I lathered Cetaphil cream on my face and never experienced extreme flakiness because of that moisturizer. I also used Aquaphor lip balm, which greatly helped. Also, I did feel slightly moodier and tired than normal. Something I also was very worried about the first couple months was getting my blood work done. I had never had my blood drawn prior and hated needles. Luckily, it got much easier over the course of my Accutane treatment and I’m sort of glad I was forced to get used to it.
Overall, the side effects were definitely worth the results. If you have dealt with acne for many years and no other treatment has worked, I highly recommend Accutane. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I remember being anxious to sleepover at my friend's houses or go into my dorm’s community bathroom without makeup. Whenever my makeup would wear off, I’d feel insecure and immediately be in a bad mood. Having clear skin is such a blessing after battling with acne for years. If you are considering it, talk to your dermatologist to see if you are a candidate for it and go on it! Do not let the negative Accutane reviews scar you from going on this medication. I know of many people who've had a very positive experience taking Accutane like I did. My only regret, is I wish I took it earlier. There are so many people who have prevented acne scars if they got on the medication earlier.
Rachel Steed – Accutane