The first time I really noticed my acne was in seventh grade at a sleepover with friends, and we were playing with makeup. I had just applied a sky blue eye shadow and hideous frosted lipstick. It was very Lizzie McGuire, and that was it. But looking at my masterpiece in the mirror, I noticed a little rash of red pimples on my forehead and cheeks. I suddenly went from loving my makeup to wanting to bury my head under my pillow. Still, it wasn’t the worst; I was comforted to notice that my friends had rashes like me. I thought it was a rite of passage, like a bleed through my pillow or an awkward first kiss.
When I started high school my acne hadn’t improved and it weakened my already low self-esteem. I felt so embarrassed that I first woke up at sleepovers so I could cover my pimples with concealer. I turned down plans after school because I didn’t have makeup in my touch-up bag, and I applied another layer of foundation before going to my dance lessons (which, in hindsight, probably contributed to the problem). After raiding the drugstore for over-the-counter treatments with little success, my mom finally took me to a dermatologist early in my junior year.
At first I took a series of topical medications (not effective enough) before switching to an oral antibiotic, which didn’t completely stop my acne but made a difference enough to make me feel good about my skin. skin. My remaining rashes were usually limited to my chin, but they were cystic, painful and, most itchy, constant. I always had at least two deep red pimples that inevitably healed.
By the time I got to college, my acne was no longer just an insecurity, but a huge factor in my worsening mental health. I felt trapped in my skin, to the point of refusing to go out on weekends. I constantly compared myself to other women and felt more and more worthless. I had always valued my appearance and was preparing to enter the beauty industry. It weighed on me.
After a brief experience with spironolactone, a high blood pressure drug used to fight hormonal acne, which hit a wall, my dermatologist eventually suggested I take isotretinoin, commonly known as Accutane, a now discontinued brand. At the time, I was about to graduate and desperate to try anything that could lighten my skin.
It has now been a year since I completed my treatment. And finally, I’m so glad I did. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it changed my life, but it absolutely had an effect on my perspective and how I feel about myself. My skin today is not perfect, but it is much better. It was not an easy process, however. Going on isotretinoin is serious business that involves pregnancy tests and flaky skin. The decision to take this medication should not be taken lightly. Read on for nine things I wish I knew before taking isotretinoin and what you need to know about Accutane side effects.
It works like a topical, but stronger.
Isotretinoin is an oral retinoid, so it behaves the same as a topical retinoid, just at a much higher force. It regulates the way that dead skin cells are shed, so there is less buildup and clogging of the pores. It also reduces the size and production of the sebaceous glands up to 90%, which is why dry skin is such a common side effect.
You will need to avoid alcohol.
Most doctors recommend avoiding alcohol during treatment, which is something to consider before committing to the medication. However, the level of rigor varies; some doctors suggest not to drink at all, while others are a bit more forgiving based on your family history and other factors.