Accutane: What to expect in the 1st 2 weeks

Adult acne.  What?  Seriously?  Haven’t we all suffered enough?  I made it through adolescence with a smile on my face and rarely a regret.  I made it through my roaring twenties with only a slight hangover.  I made it through marriage and childbirth.  Why now?  

Almost 2 years ago I made a major “woman” decision to get off birth control for the first time since I was about 17 (taking a hiatus during pregnancy, of course).  I was 35 and figured it was time.  According to statistics, “Studies show that while women are taking birth control pills (and shortly after), they have a 20 to 30 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who have never used the pill.  Some studies have shown that the risk is higher after the age of 35.  I made a choice.  Breast cancer runs in my family and why take the gamble, right?

Within a couple months after leaving my reliable friend behind, my hormones went haywire.  I started to develop acne along my jawline.  I started to get bacne.  Is there anything worse than bacne?  My back was my one immaculate feature.  I could show it off without a concern.  Now I had to cover it up?  I was used to the occasional pimple various places on my face during my period but they always went away.  I could easily go day to day without the need for makeup.  I’ve never been particularly “happy” with my skin but never unhappy enough to need any help.  I have sensitive skin, so I used products that didn’t irritate.  Aveeno cleansing pads were my favorite.

After the acne started to appear, Aveeno just wasn’t cutting it.  I tried Proactiv.  Nope.  I scoured beauty blogs for solutions and probably spent hundreds on various cleansers, toners, ointments, drying solutions.  Nothing.  Time to go to the doctor.

My dermatologist put me on an antibiotic and 2 topical prescriptions- Onexton and Epiduo.  She had me washing with Benzoyl Peroxide, 10%. She also had me doing facial peels at her office once a month.  After 6 months and trying two different antibiotics, I started to see results and I was happy.

In December, 2015, it started again.  I was mortified.  It came back bigger and badder than before.  I was embarrassed to go out in public- and never without a full face over coverup makeup.  My skin became so oily (a far cry from years prior when I was so dry I was flaking).  I went back to my dermatologist and she started me again on the same regime as before but this time it wasn’t helping.

I got a referral from my regular doctor to a different dermatologist who determined I had tried everything he would have tried and it was time for Accutane.

Accutane is not easy to get.  After my initial visit with my new doc, I had to sign a pledge to not get pregnant, use two forms of birth control and made me watch a video on how easy it is to not use birth control.  Oy.  I was a little overwhelmed.  I had to take a pregnancy test.  I had to wait another month, get a blood test for my liver and another pregnancy test.  My doctor warned me that some of the side effects were extremely dry skin.  Depression is also a side effect but rare.

Accutane can do severe damage to an unborn child.  It causes serious birth defects.  It also makes it so your liver cannot metabolize alcohol so drinking is not recommended.  After I got the all-clear on my blood tests, I finally got my prescription, had to go online and answer stupid questions regarding birth control and then a few days later, I got the pills.

I’m not so sure I would have had the maturity to deal with all this procedure when I was a teenager or in my twenties.  It takes a lot.  I started taking the pills immediately.  I’ve been on them for 2 weeks now and so far, here is what has happened.

  1. After about 1 week, my lips became extremely dry.  First I purchased Philosophy’s Kiss me tonight lip balm after reading good reviews on Amazon.  It didn’t do much.  Then, I purchased an exfoliating lip balm, also on Amazon.  It helped a tiny bit.  I keep all different kinds of lip balm wherever I go.  In my house, purse and office.  The only thing that has given me some sort of relief is Rodan & Field’s Essentials Lip Shield.  My friend is a R&F sales representative, so I was able to get it quickly from her.
  2. I constantly feel like I have bad breath.  It’s pretty gross.  I’m constantly brushing my teeth and using mouth wash, drinking fluids, flossing, etc…nothing helps.  I’m assuming I actually do have bad breath but I haven’t outright asked anybody yet.
  3. Milk products taste weird.  But not bad-weird.  For me, they taste like Chinese food, which isn’t so bad.  It’s just odd.  I have cereal or ice cream and there it is- a mixture of black bean sauce and teriyaki.  Odd.
  4. Dry skin is just starting.  I live in Las Vegas, so it is dry here anyways but I usually do not have to moisturize too much.  Now I am starting to really try to get ahead of it.  I know it’s coming, and I’m sure the next blog post will be all about dry skin.  I really like Vanicream products.  I purchased the cleanser, moisturizer and sunblock to use for the Accutane duration.
  5. I woke up yesterday and got a bloody nose.  Again, the dryness.  I may have to start sleeping with a humidifier.
  6. Finally, the depression.  For me, it’s not really depression.  I already have anxiety, so this just accentuates the symptoms.  I found myself thinking irrational thoughts and decided to take some me-breaks so I could deal.  If I hadn’t done that, I probably would have let my irrational thoughts be known to my friends and family and created tension.  No need.  It’s cool.

As far as my skin goes, it’s too soon to tell.  My doctor told me it may get worse before it gets better.  Other people who have been on the meds have told me that they’ve seen results start at about a month in so I’m optimistic that my next post on the subject will be very positive.



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