Accutane: Women who take a small dose of acne medicine for flawless skin

THE quest for blemish-free skin has led many women to go online to illegally purchase intense acne medication only to be prescribed by a doctor.

BEFORE she started taking isotretinoin, a popular acne medication sold as Accutane, Rachel* says she suffered from “awful skin” all her life.

After a doctor prescribed him a high daily dose of 80 mg of Accutane at the age of 19, his skin immediately cleared up.

But Rachel was worried her acne would come back once she stopped taking the drug, so she started “microdosing”, taking a small 20mg dose of Accutance twice a week to try to keep her acne off. remote buttons.

Microdosing is a term often used to describe the habit of taking a lower dose of a medication than is generally recommended.

“I’ve taken two official courses of Accutane through a doctor, but I’m microdosing on my own terms after hearing about it on bodybuilding forums,” Rachel told

“I had a few scraps of my script left, but I’m buying them online now. It took a lot of research, but I found a forum that doesn’t allow sellers to post their products until they have sent test results to moderators,” she said.

Now 25, Rachel says the peace of mind that comes with knowing her skin will always be clear is a huge relief.

“I don’t crack anymore. Growing up with acne was terrible and ultimately I can’t feel disgusting without foundation,” she said.

Vanessa also microdoses on Accutane, taking a smaller dose less regularly than her dermatologist prescribed.

She has always been extremely self-conscious about her skin and has found that microdosing prevents large breakouts from appearing.

“I just felt like all eyes were on my skin and the rough bumps that had started to form,” Vanessa told

“I’ve tried every skincare product. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on skincare and finally I was like, ‘I’m going to talk to a dermatologist and if they put me on Accutane, let him so be it,” Vanessa said.

She received a prescription for a six-month dose, which cost her $30. In eight weeks, her skin was completely clear.

MORE: One woman’s amazing skin transformation after using Accutane

But when Vanessa stopped taking Accutane, her bad skin returned. She still had pills left from her old prescription, so she decided to start taking them again but less frequently.

“At first I was taking one 20mg pill a day and now I take one pill every other day,” she said.

“It was peace of mind knowing my skin would always be clear and because it’s so inexpensive. Compared to spending hundreds of dollars on skincare products that may or may not work, it is a guarantee.

Spokesperson for the Australasian College of Dermatologists, Associate Professor Stephen Shumack, said obtaining prescription drugs by any means other than a qualified doctor is illegal.

“Legally, you have to be a dermatologist to prescribe Accutane. For a pharmacy to dispense it, it must be prescribed by a dermatologist. So if they don’t get it from a dermatologist, it’s illegal,’ Prof Assoc Shumack told

“[Microdosing] is obviously off label and you would normally want it done under the supervision of a dermatologist,” he said.

Pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant should not take Accutane as it can cause birth defects in the fetuses. Women taking the drug should use contraception.

This is the only long-term health risk associated with taking Accutane, said Professor Assoc Shumack.

“Accutane is one of those drugs that has a very high risk of deforming the fetus or the baby. So we’re very keen on making sure pregnancy doesn’t happen when people are taking Accutane,” he said.

“If people take it for a long time, they need to understand this risk and use appropriate contraception. This is the main serious complication of long-term low dose.

Side effects of Accutane include extremely dry skin. It can also exacerbate feelings of depression and self-harm in people with a history of mental illness.

Accutane is often dubbed the “suicide drug”, with a wave of suicides linked to young people taking it for their acne.

The side effects of Accutane were even used in the defense of a teenager in a murder trial earlier this year. A 15-year-old boy stabbed a woman to death in Colorado and his attorneys argued the drug could invoke aggressive behavior.

Both Rachel and Vanessa say the side effects — both dryness and impact on mood — are reduced when taking a small dose.

“I found that microdosing compared to a regular dose prescribed by a dermatologist has fewer side effects. Microdosing is definitely better,” Rachel said.

Vanessa said the only downsides are dry skin, eyes and dandruff.

“I’m thirstier, but you don’t need to wash your hair as much,” she said.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

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