26 June 2012

Adventures on Accutane (Isotretinoin)


Are you grossed out yet?

I have had problems with acne for a very long time. I have tried many different types of treatment: a rigorous skin care regimen, Proactiv, topical prescribed treatments, oral antibiotics, chemical skin peels. None of them were very effective because I have a stupid different type of acne called nodular acne. I think it's also sometimes referred to as cystic acne. This acne is stubborn and doesn't react as well to those aforementioned treatments. This acne also is very, very painful, under the skin (so you can't pop it like normal zits), and it just sucks. For something so hardcore, a hardcore treatment is needed.

Enter: Accutane.

Well, I'm not on Accutane. I'm on Amnesteem because it is the generic and waaaay more affordable.
Anywho, when I was a sophomore in high school, I was tired, fed-up, and embarrassed about my terrible skin condition (imagine have a huge pimple of the very end of your nose that could have a zip code of its own and hearing people call it Vesuvius. Seriously. It was huge). I asked my dermatologist about Accutane. He was rather reluctant and wanted to try every possible avenue before Accutane because the side-effects for Accutane are rather severe. So we tried another few treatments. They didn't work.

So I started.

Before you start taking Accutane, you must take a blood test to make sure your liver and lipid levels are okay (oh, a dislcaimer: I'm not a doctor so I don't speak medical. If you are smart in the area of medicine, please correct me so I can fix my mistakes). Blood tested. Begin treatment.

1 40mg pill/day for 30 days.

Before they upped the dose, they wanted to check my cholesterol.  It was off the charts. Oh well. I hope my liver doesn't die.

1 40mg pill/day alternating with two pills/day for 60 days.

Cholesterol check again. It had pretty much plateaued. Although the elevation of said plateau was very high.
2 40mg pills/day for 60 days.


The results were amazing. There were months that I didn't have one new blemish. It was a good confidence boost about my self image and I felt that the side effects were worth it.

Senior year, two years after Accutane:

Break out city on my face/shoulders. Nast-o.

Back to the dermatologist.

Accutane. Round two:

Same as above.

I go on a mission for two years. I get the occasional pimples, but I don't remember it being terrible.

I come home. Gradually, the nasty acne comes back in greater quantity.

Back to the dermatologist.

Accutane. Round three:

1 40mg pill/day for 30 days.

Blood test! Cholesterol is high again. Oh well. I'd better eat more Cheerios.

1 40mg pill/day alternating with two pills/day for... still on this one. We'll see where it goes.

Accutane for women is a bigger deal for men. Serious birth defects are one of the side effects so women need to use two types of birth control (the pill + contraceptive/abstinence/I'm not well versed in more than that) and do other rigorous follow up visits. So let's talk other side-effects.You know, ones that are effecting me.

Dry skin. To combat this, I started showering only every other day, using a moisturizing body wash, anti-dandruff shampoo, and intensive healing lotion. Everywhere. Especially around my mouth, forearms/elbows, and hands.

Dry lips. If I don't apply chapstick frequently, my lips will start peeling and crack.

Thin skin. I'm much more susceptible to cuts, scrapes, and sunburn. Not 10 minutes ago I got a small abrasion from rubbing my arm a little hard on the computer desk. I now apply sunscreen like a madman whenever I go out. To prevent major burnage on my torso, I wear a rash guard shirt when I go swimming.

Joint aches. There's nothing I can really do about that. I know that there are joint health supplements that are available, but I don't have any. Maybe that would be a good investment.

Nose bleeds. It just gets really dry, cracks, and bleeds. The dry, windy southern Utah weather doesn't help. I now have a cool moisture humidifier in my room. That 8 hours of sleep time with it really helps my nose. On days that my nostrils are are cracky and bleedy, I stick my finger in a tub of petroleum jelly and then in my nostrils. Sounds gross. But it's effective.

High cholesterol. It'll go down when I'm done with Accutane.

Another side-effect is depression. I don't think that I have been effected by that. Although, I have been super fatigued. Maybe that's how my body get's depressed.

So that's what's up with me and my skin (because I know how curious you all were to know about it). I'm in my third month and I've already received many compliments about how nice my skin looks. It's working.

This is the symbol found on every pill. It kind of makes me laugh.


  1. :( I'm sorry, Eric. Ance really is the worst. I've struggled with it on and off for a couple years. I think people who go on Acutane have pretty skin, though! I really wanted to go on it, but I can't because I wanna have a baby in the next few years. Just know that you are a handsome person, and it doesn't even matter.

  2. And... I was one of those people who NOTICED how great your skin looks! I know, too, that beauty is really within you, but... It's always really nice to have skin that's not always broke out in zits, so... good for you! Glad it's working! {And now I can say that I have, indeed, read the post!} :o)