Today I wanted to write a really detailed blog on something that's very close to my heart and something which I never thought I'd be able to write about, which is of course how I cleared up my acne! I wanted to provide a thorough guide to Accutane, how I got rid of my acne after Accutane and tips and tricks to cover bad skin. To prevent information overload I am splitting this issue into two instalments so when they are published you can read them all or skip to the one most relevant to you. I really hope some of you find this helpful!
First off I just wanted to say that this blog is all about confidence in yourself and feeling good about how you look, so I'm not at all saying there is anything "wrong" with you or having acne but if we are totally honest I don't think anyone ever likes having acne. I know it's something that plagued my life whilst I had it and completely knocked my confidence. However, I also know that acne doesn't disappear overnight so as I’ve mentioned, in the next instalment on this issue I will talk about some foundations that were great for concealing any eruptions and made me feel a whole lot better when I was suffering with this condition.
In today's post I am going to cover my Accutane experience, so for those of you considering going on this drug I hope the details of my own personal experience on Accuatne are of some use to you!
Okay, so before I talk about my Accutane experience I'll just give you a brief history of my acne so you have a better understanding of how bad it was. I'm so sad to say that I do not own a "before" photo. Any photos I had taken were with thick make up on so it'd be wrong to put those up here as you wouldn’t be able to see the true extent of it.
I was lucky in that I had reasonably clear skin throughout most of my teen years until I was about sixteen. My skin started to get bad when I was in sixth form and it worsened progressively until I was twenty, at which point I was finally approved to start the treatment. Although I only suffered with what I would call “severe” acne for four years, they were some of the worst days of my life. It knocked my confidence hugely and I stayed in on more than one Friday night because I didn’t want people to see my skin. With regards to how “severe” it was, I’d say that about seventy percent of my face was covered in acne. A doctor agreed it was bad enough to go on Accutane and because it is quite difficult to get on this drug in the UK due to its infamous side effects, if you're considering Accutane your acne will have to be considerably severe.
Now on to Accutane itself. For those of you that don’t know, Accutane or Roaccutane as it’s called in some countries is a very serious drug that clears acne by severely drying out the skin due to the high concentration of Vitamin D. If you live in the UK and want to get on it you will have to see two doctors beforehand for approval. You will have to go to the hospital for your prescription after having blood tests to check your kidney function every month. If you are female you must also have a blood test to check for pregnancy each month and have to sign a contract stating that if you are sexually active you are using two forms of contraception. This is because if you get pregnant whilst taking Accutane or if your partner is taking it, your child will be severely deformed. So yes, this drug is a serious business.
I began taking Accutane in August 2013 and to be blunt, from the word go it was an absolute disaster. The first day I took it I became incredibly ill with an awful migraine and vomiting. Even though I was horribly sick I did not link the two in my mind and assumed I had some sort of sickness bug. This was the first of several awful migraines that I experienced whilst on Accutane, one of which landed me in the Hospital overnight. I had about 3 of these migraines during the 5 months I was on Accutane and this was by far the worst side effect I experienced. After I came off the drug these migraines miraculously dissapeared thankfully. So if you are succeptible to migraines I would not risk taking Accutane for the sake of your skin.
Another side effect I experienced was what’s known as the “Initial Breakout”. This is a term used to describe a huge increase in the severity of a person’s acne which usually occurs within the first month or so of treatment. Not everyone goes through this but I was unfortunate enough to be one of those that did. My skin was literally the worst it has ever been. Not only was it dry, cracked and sore it was also covered in spots that were even more painful than the broken skin itself. This stage began two weeks into my treatment and lasted until October 2013, two or so months after I began taking the drug. As well as this increase in acne and dry skin on the face, my hair became dry as did all the skin on the rest of my body but especially my lips which would bleed on occasion. I also suffered the odd nose bleed but these weren’t too bad and were usually brought on by having a drink of alcohol, which you are strongly warned against doing... Whoops!
Things came to a head, no pun intended (honest), in December 2013 at which point I experienced one of the awful migraines and sickness I got during my time on this drug. This migraine combined with a 4000 word uni essay which was nearing its due date and a general low mood was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I came off Accutane under my doctor’s guidance just before Christmas as the drug had not yet started to clear my skin significantly and my doctor was worried about my low mood. This is another side effect of Accutane and one of the more serious ones. Many young people experience a low mood on this drug and it is something that both you and your doctor need to monitor closely as it can lead to depression and there have been cases of suicide. My mood was never that low to be even classed as depression but in accordance with everything else I had undergone I just felt that it was time to break up with this drug once and for all.
So as you can see, my time on Accutane was not a happy one. I haven’t listed all of these negative side effects in an attempt to put you off Accutane because I know that for lots of people, they experience very few side effects and are happy with the results. I just want people to be as informed as possible and do their research like I wish I had done. The big question is of course “Do I think Accutane helped my skin?” The answer to that however is a mixed one. I believe that it cleared about 20% of my acne but this returned when I came off the drug because I had to do so prematurely, having only been on it for around four and a half months as opposed to the recommended six to twelve months. In the next section I am going to go into detail about some products that I really believe cleared my skin up significantly and I wish I had known before I had undergone Accutane treatment!