Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Road to Accutane and Living to Tell the Tale

So... everyone gets acne when they're a teenager, right? (Probably right, I mean, I hope that's right...)
I did, and all my friends did, too. Here is a really embarrassing photo: 
See? Embarrassing. Redness, blotchiness... all around not a good time. And I was doing everything. Foam cleansers, milk cleansers, oil cleansers, oil free, you name it, I tried it. I also tried harsh salicylic acid and benzoyl treatments... didn't work. 
Flash forward to college. Not only had my problems not been reduced at all, they had actually gotten worse. 
As you can see I was getting large lumps on my face. I have probably deleted all the photos of my really bad cystic acne, but it went all along my jawline. It was painful and I felt hopeless. I didn't want to see anyone and make up didn't really cover it that well. And trust me, at that time there were no youtube gurus telling you had to do all these things. You had to do it the hard trial and error way! 

Finally I went to go see my dermatologist. We talked about some of my medical problems (blood clotting and PCOS) and she recommended I go on accutane. I wanted to more than anything. The promise of healthy skin was too great, even with the warning that acne could come back, I was ready to try anything. 

Before you can take the medicine, if you're a girl, you need to take a pregnancy test. You also need to provide tow forms of birth control to prove that you won't be able to get pregnant while on the medication. Every month they took my blood to make sure my liver and blood sugars were healthy. It was painful at times and time consuming. Keep this in mind before you consider accutane! 

The summer I started accutane was really hard. I had injured my foot and gained weight. I was depressed (without linking it to my medication) and I wanted to bury myself, away from friends and prying eyes. The sun burned so badly, I felt sick every time I walked outside. My skin would burn (still does tbh) incredibly easily. Even with sunscreen, a hat, and staying under an umbrella, I felt queasy being out in the sun. 

Most of the time I stayed indoors
My hair started changing it's shape.
Before accutane: 
After/ During:
My hair got super brittle and dry. It was frizzy ALL the time, my fly-aways were out of control no matter how many deep conditioning treatments or oils I used. It took two years post accutane for my hair to get semi-normal! 

There are so many side effects to accutane. And they are really all possible. The ones I had to deal with:
  • hair change 
  • dry skin/ lips
  • eye problems 
  • depression
  • higher liver enzymes
  • higher triglyceride levels 
My eyes were more sensitive but I also started getting a ton of styes in my eyes. They were really painful and I hated going to class (I was in college at the time). I finally found a way to get rid of them (green tea packet, warm water, keep it on your eye overnight with medical tape!) I found out from my eye doctor that accutane dries up the oil in your body that produces acne. This can also dry up the oil around your eye, causing blockage problems. 

Because my liver and triglyceride levels were up, I had to be put on a smaller dose over a larger period of time-- one year. After six months my skin was pretty much perfect. All my blackheads fell out, my pores became smaller. But my doctor recommended I stay on the medication for longer to lower the chance of acne coming back. 

I'm going to be honest... I got really bad depression on accutane. I've had situational depression before, and I know many of my family members struggle with depression. If you have depression or are worried about it, talk to your dermatologist about it! Do NOT keep that information from them. I'm a generally happy person but I found that when taking accutane I was incredibly depressed. Only when I finished the medicine did that fog lift and I realized the medicine was what caused it. I lost a lot of friends and wasted a lot of time because I refused to admit that I was having a period of depression. 

For dry lips, the only thing that would keep my lips moisturized was AQUAPHORE. I got 12 packets of it in my stocking that Christmas. It was a life saver! I took it everywhere with me. I highly recommend it. Conventional lip balm didn't cut it. 

Now... would I do it again? Yes. Even though I think I have a persisting eye problem because of accutane, I love my skin now. Yes, some of my pores opened up a little bit (though not as large as pre-accutane). Sometimes I get a few spots when my period is about to start or I'm stressed. But for the most part, I'm pain free, cyst free, and really happy with my complexion. I recommend it. 

This is me now!! 
I only use a cleansing water from Bioderma as my skin is now more sensitive than it used to be. I also use BB or CC cream or a light tinted moisturizer. I rarely, if ever, like to use a real honest-to-goodness foundation. I like my natural skin! If you have any questions about accutane, please don't hesitate to send me a message or comment below! 

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