Let’s go back to my teens, I wasn’t a particularly spotty child. There were definitely kids who had it much worse, but my skin was far from perfect. As my hormones balanced out, so did the break-outs and soon they became the normal tell-tell sign of “that time of the month”. I did however have abnormally oily skin, to the point that my oil production could easily do away with the likes of Estee Lauder – Double wear or MAC – Studio Fix within a matter of hours.
Fast forward to 23 year old me; I stopped smoking, started eating healthy, exercising regularly and drinking 2-4ltrs of water a day. But month by month my skin just got worse and worse. Nothing I did made any difference. I tried all the latest lotions and potions which may have had amazing effects on the general condition of my skin, but the blemishes always over shadowed any benefits. Before long they were covering my face (up to my eyes and all over my nose), my chest and my back. It was starting to effect my confidence and tasks as small as going to fill up with petrol required at the very least, a full face of foundation.
I would wake up every morning and look in the mirror immediately in the hope that the latest cream or lotion has miraculously cleared every last blemish. Every morning I was met with the same disappointment at my worsening skin. After sitting on the stairs of my Grandma’s beautiful cottage, crying my eyes out over my skin, she urged me to seek help from my GP. And so I did.
The first prescription I received was for HibiScrub, an antiseptic wash which surgeons use mainly to scrub up with before surgery. Sounds scary but it wasn’t and I did see a small improvement but it was almost like my skin wised up to my new line of attack and the acne came back with vengeance.
The second prescription I received was for a 2 month course of Lymecycline (Antibiotics) which I saw absolutely no change in my skin throughout the course so the doctor then extended the course by another 2 months, again my hopes were built up only for reality slap them back down. I’d tried the different contraceptive pills, I’d tried natural remedies such as Evening Primrose, Brewers Yeast and Zinc supplements. All hopeless!
With all lines of attack exhausted, my GP gave me the final option…Roaccutane. I’d heard so much about the drug I was very apprehensive. Luckily my cousin had done a full course so I had her brain to pick along side my online research before making a decision. It didn’t take me long to reach a verdict once I heard how it changed her life so dramatically so back to the doctor I went.
I was given the option to go Private or via the NHS but the waiting list for the NHS was anything up to 8 weeks. I just couldn’t wait that long to try something that again might not work. So I decided to go private and see the same Dermatologist as my cousin, Dr Ravi Ratnavel at the BMI Chiltern Hopspital. You have to see a Dermatologist when obtaining a prescription for Roaccutane and I would strongly suggest doing all your research before hand because they can say no if you aren’t fully prepared for the treatment ahead.
It had to be agreed that I would not fall pregnant throughout my treatment and that I was using at least 2 methods of contraception. This is because there is pretty much a 100% chance of a child being born disabled if the mother is on Roaccutane.
I was informed that I must not drink, I must not go in the sun and I must pay close attention to how I feel in myself, am I depressed? Do I feel low? If yes TALK TO SOMEONE IMMEDIATELY. We are all aware of the horror stories surrounding Roaccutane.
My Dermatologist took my weight and height, calculating my recommended dose for my size and started me off on a 2 week long dose of 20mg per day which then went up to alternating daily doses of 40mg and 60mg for the remainder of the 6month treatment. In the first few days of treatment I noticed a sort of tingling/prickly feeling on my face. It was almost like I could feel my pores drying up. This sensation soon went away and as my dosage went up I started to experience a number of side effects which I had read about before. First was my lips, don’t expect to wear pretty lipsticks throughout your treatment unless you want to be eating it in clumps within a matter of minutes. Carmex will be the only shade for the foreseeable months as there will be absolutely no oil production from your face. There was nothing worse than being caught out running an errand without a pot of Carmex so I purchased in bulk and made sure every handbag, coat pocket and draw had a pot. Even the glove compartment in my car had its own allocated pot.
The next side effect was severely dry skin, this wasn’t too much of a burden once I had replaced all my oil stripping products with moisture intensive ones. That was a tad surreal, moisture had always been the enemy.
Then came the dry eyes, this only tended to occur in the mornings and it wasn’t anything that some artificial tears couldn’t sort out. I also didn’t have to wash my hair nearly as much which was an absolute godsend.
The final side effect that I experienced was extremely brittle skin, to the point where once I lightly scratched my nose and a rather alarming chunk of skin came off (I know I know, as if the make up free images weren’t enough) and even the smallest amount of friction would cause my skin to become red and sore. But for me, all these side effects were minuscule in comparison to the changes I saw almost immediately. Within one month my skin was completely acne free, so much so that I didn’t need to take another progress picture for the following 5 months as that was all the change I saw.
I apologise for the poor quality, had I known that this would be the treatment to actually work I would have ensured beautiful high res naked spots for you all. But I have no doubt that deep down you are thankful for my lack of organisation.
And here I sit 4 months after finishing my treatment, where I can count the number of spots I’ve had since on half a hand, struggling to imagine how I didn’t do this sooner. Roaccutane completely changed my life and gave me my confidence back which I am forever thankful for. I know there have been some awful cases where people have suffered terrible side effects whilst taking Roaccutane but this is my own personal journey and it couldn’t have been a more positive one.
If you have any more question’s please don’t hesitate to leave them below and I promise to answer as many of them as I can!