Sunday, 24 April 2016

My Roaccutane Diary #1

roaccutane acne skin diary

This post has been a rather long time coming but I really wanted to share my experience on Roaccutane with you guys. I've had acne for around ten years now, which seems quite crazy to me. I've done a few course of antibiotics over the years, with various degrees of success, but once the course was finished the blemishes always came back. When you're in your thirties and beyond, that's a little tough to deal with (if ageing wasn't enough!).

My breakouts tend to build up over the course of a few weeks, consisting of painful under the skin nasties plus your usual whiteheads (what a treat!), which then heal up and give me a month or so off until it starts all over again. My last major breakout was a few months ago, and after a few nights of being woken up in pain as I slept on the side of my face, I went to my GP and asked to be referred to a dermatologist.

I knew that I wanted to go on Roaccutane rather than try more treatments as my skin is pretty sensitive. After reading both Kate and Helen's accounts of their experiences on the drug, I knew this was the way forward. I didn't actually have any active breakouts when I had my first appointment, but the marks left behind certainly told my skin story. My derm agreed that Roaccutane was a viable route for me to take, considering the length of time that acne has plagued my skin. 

Roaccutane, or Isotretinoin to give it it's proper name, is not something to go into likely. Mainly what you hear about it is the long list of harsh side effects, but what outweighs that for me is the success it brings to a lot of acne sufferers. Roaccutane will most certainly cause birth defects if you conceive when under treatment, so for that reason I had to take a pregnancy test before my dermatologist would give me a prescription, and even then it's only a month's worth. Every month I have to go back with a  negative test in order to receive my next prescription. My GP took a blood test when I had my appointment with her so this speeded up the process.

I started off on 40mg of Roaccutane a day, which is calculated on your weight. I had my first dose on 8th March, so I'm almost at the 7th week mark. I didn't see any side effects until probably the fifth of sixth day, and even then it was some slight dryness on my bottom lip and itchy arms and legs. My arms and legs cleared up in a few days, but by then my skin had transformed to seriously sahara-like dryness. If you're a regular reader of my blog then you'll know that I have dry dehydrated skin anyway, so this was always going to be the worst side effect for me. I've also had some dull headaches here and there which are probably due to the dehydration that the drug causes. Literally every morning the first thing I do is chug a pint of water before whacking on the lip balm! That's then followed by lip balm probably every half an hour or so. I've since become a connoisseur of the lip balm aisle in Boots!

In my second month I'll be honest and say I found the side effects a bit much at times. On their own dry lips or a sore nose (it's mega dry folks!) is pretty do-able and not too bad at all, but when you've got split, bleeding lips, nose bleeds, rashy red hands and flakey skin that you can't moisturise enough all at the same time, it gets a bit crap. But, that said; not once have I thought I can't go on with my treatment. I've wanted clear skin for so long that I'm sticking with it. Things have calmed down for the last week so I'm much happier!

Onto the skin! So the first thing I probably noticed about my skin after a week was that it was a bit more red and irritated than usual, so exfoliating has been a no-no for sure. I'll talk in more detail about my current skin care routine in another post I think, but I've just made sure that I load up the layers and moisturising balms. Up until week six I didn't have a single spot which was amazing, but then I've had a few around my mouth for the last few days. Most people on Roaccutane seem to have breakouts early on before their skin heals, but I've not really had that. As a result my dermatologist has kept my dose as it is for the second month rather than increasing it. He was really happy with my progress so far but hasn't given me a timescale for my treatment. The minimum is four months, but some people can stay on it for six to twelve months. I'm hopeful my treatment won't be as long as that though.

I'm going for my next appointment in a couple of weeks so I'll keep you posted on how I get on. I've been sent a few messages on Twitter about my treatment and I'm really happy to help others if I can, so if you've got any acne or Roaccutane related questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments or Tweet/email me.

Laura

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