My experience with Accutane

by Michelle Young, Editor-in-Chief

In 2019, I thought I have found peace with my skin. After years of examining myself closely in the mirror, experimenting with more skin care products than I can count, and using dozens of medications, I have come to terms with my skin condition. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t particularly feel the need to pursue perfection either. I had gone from perfect skin to blemish-prone skin and resigned myself to a comfortable in-between. Then came 2020, and I had the worst escape I have ever had.

It was a attractive big deal. My skin was tender to the touch, cystic acne crept under the sclose, and it was impossible to get rid of it. I went to my dermatologist and started the cycle of pills and topicals again. Throughout my life I have tried products such as doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline, TactuPump, benzoyl peroxide, ivermectin, and things I can’t even remember the name of.

This time, I was particularly sick of it. I was definitely not going to get away with the medications I had taken in the past – let alone “change my lifestyle,” which already included drink water, eat well, and at rest. I knew my skin was way too stubborn for that. I had been recommended isotretinoin (more commonly known as Accutane) many times in the past and never felt the need to. But in the fall of 2020, I decided to finally take the plunge.

Anyone with mild to severe acne has probably heard of Accutane. It is the drug of “last resort,” the cure, the one that is supposed to leave your skin looking flawless after a few months. It is associated with severe acne and would not usually be the first medication taken. It comes with some Side effects and scary warnings: dry skin, joint pain, fatigue, sensitivity to the sun, mood swings, thinning hair, birth defects, and liver damage. To avoid the latter two, patients take monthly blood tests while you are on Accutane and Check their organic function before starting. Those who can become pregnant usually have contraception and pregnancy tests. To protect the liver, patients should also avoid alcohol completely. Accutane is an oral medication you take between 4 and 12 months depending on your dose and body weight to reach a cumulative dose of medication. Personally, I had to take it for 6 months.

I was terrified to start this medication, but I knew what to expect. When my skin and lips started to peel and crack, I pulled out my super strength moisturizer and petroleum jelly. I did my blood tests diligently, and frankly, I was still in pain. I would wake up every night with a nosebleed and I was always stiff and tired. I religiously used eye drops to soothe the dryness in my eyes. Although the experience was not as bad as it could have been, it was far from pleasant.

When my skin started to clear up, I asked my friends and family to take Accutane. I wanted to be transparent about my symptoms and didn’t think pretending that my sudden improvement was due to skin care products would be honest. As I talked about it more, I realized that more people had taken Accutane than I thought. Some told me casually; others preferred that I keep this detail to myself. But finding those who shared the same experience made the process less scary and made me feel less isolated.

We shared tips on what helped us overcome symptoms, how to prepare for blood tests, and reassured ourselves that acne isn’t something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. I was open to my experiences with friends who have had fair skin and who have also found support among them.

Lots of people go on Accutane and keep it a secret. It’s not a fun thing to advertise, and it might sound like our skin care routines. failed we. The number of uninformed people who have told me to completely avoid Accutane and to “drink only water” and “eat healthy” is more than I would have liked. Frankly everyone is different and there is nothing wrong with going on Accutane if you think it’s good for you. It’s just important to be aware of the side effects, the time commitment, and to have a doctor or dermatologist who is ready to patiently walk you through the process.

People around me saw how difficult it was to calm my incredibly sensitive, angry and irritable skin. Trends like “glass skinWhich encourage a plethora of serums and toners, are definitely not for me. Numerous people i have various skin issues and i am a bit fed up with skin care being portrayed as something that will guarantee clear skin. The most important part of skin care is the kindness of your skin, which looks different to everyone – that doesn’t necessarily mean a pore-less, glowing face.

Fast forward a few months to spring and I have completed my dosage. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. My skin was the best since high school. It’s not perfect, I still have redness (rosacea) and deep acne scars – but for me it’s more than enough. The thing that got me through the process was being vulnerable with those around me and actively trying to come to terms with my imperfections. Although no one is forced to share their physical insecurities with others, talking about them and supporting each other has been extremely valuable to me. Skin care is unique to each person, and while Accutane is considered a last resort, I’m glad I took it at a time when I was fully confident in my decision.

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