Throughout my entire adolescence and even into my adult years I suffered from hormonal acne – by acne, I mean volcanic cysts that felt like bruises and bubbling whiteheads across my entire face. It was horrible. I tried to learn more about acne to arm myself with the knowledge to improve my situation. Sleep was one factor that was an issue and saw that my acne would get worse through this. So I was recommended to look into getting something like a king size mattress or any mattress for that matter, to provide me with comfort and a place to relax better than before. But it was a WHOLE 10 years after I had tried and tested everything on the market and lost all hope before I made the decision to try Roaccutane.
What Is Roaccutane?
Roaccutane (or Accutane in the U.S) is currently one of the most powerful treatments for severe acne on the market today. It contains active ingredient isotretinoin, a form of vitamin A which in large doses can cause some serious side effects. The adverse effects were the reason why it was my absolute last resort. I also had to plead to my GP that I needed it because it isn’t something they prescribe thoughtlessly. They will take into account your FULL medical history and make you try every topical treatment or antibiotic before prescribing Roaccutane.
What Are The Side Effects?
It is best to ask your GP for the full list of side effects but from my experience, here are some of the main ones that I had to deal with whilst on my 4-month treatment of Roaccutane and ways in which I dealt with them.
Major Birth Defects
Roaccutane causes major birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Your doctor will request that you join a ‘pregnancy prevention programme’. This is compulsory as it prevents you from falling pregnant accidentally. When I was on the programme I was a required to go to the hospital every month to do a pregnancy test and it wasn’t until it came back negative that I would be allowed my next batch of tablets. I was also required to be on a form of contraception during the course of the treatment and 4 weeks after I completed Roaccutane.
How to Combat:
- Two forms of protection (for example condom & the pill)
- Monthly pregnancy tests by doctor
The main concern with Roaccutane is the effect that it can have on your mood. There have been incidents where people that have been prescribed Roaccutane have become extremely depressed and committed suicide. This was a big concern for me so I questioned my GP (it was like an episode of law and order I swear) and I was told that it is very rare that people experience such extreme mood changes. Thankfully I didn’t really experience much change, except when I had my monthly cycle which is when I’m usually the moodiest anyway!
You are given a monthly appointment to check up on how you are reacting to Roaccutane and they will even check your blood a few times over the course of the treatment to make sure everything is fine. So, make this your time to tell the nurse of any side effects you are feeling, I usually wrote a list on my phone of things I wanted to ask just to be sure.
How to Combat:
- Tell your friends & family when you start Roaccutane to look out for mood changes and to let you know if they find anything concerning
- Keep in constant contact with your nurse/dermatologist. My nurse gave me her email address just in case.
- Let your doctor know as soon as you experience changes, this is so important.
I have to say this is the most visible side effect and it was the worst for me. I was on a 4-month treatment so the first 4 weeks I was given 30mg to test how my skin reacted and it was totally fine and I thought aww this is going to be easy. Then week 5 they gave me a higher dosage of 50mg and my spots were all brought to the surface and I started to experience extreme tightness, dryness and peeling. It was so bad I couldn’t even wear makeup to hide it and my lips actually felt like they were going to fall off. So I started a strict routine to help me deal with the effects. All the products I’ve mentioned below were literally a godsend for me and I hope they help you too!
How to Combat:
- Use a gentle cleanser. I highly recommend Nuxe Aroma Perfection – Purifying Cleansing Gel or Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
- Avoid wearing thick foundations (it will crack and look horrible). Instead, opt for moisturising BB creams or a light moisturising foundation. I used La Roche-Posay Toleriane Teint Corrective Fluid Foundation with SPF 25 but I also like Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream with SPF30 (if you have a darker skin tone check amazon for the dark shade)
- Aim to drink up to 2 litres of water a day. Don’t over do it as my dermatologist told me that drinking an extreme amount of water per day can be dangerous. Depending on your weight, I am petite 5″1 so I drank about 1.5lt every day and it made a HUGE difference my skin was noticeably more hydrated and stopped peeling
- Use a super moisturising, non-comedogenic day & night moisturiser. For during the day I used Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Daily Moisturizer for Face. For my nighttime routine I used Paula’s Choice CLINICAL Ultra-Rich Moisturizer which is expensive but OMG actually the best moisturiser I’ve ever used it saved my skin.
- Remove makeup with an oil such as jojoba oil (make sure its organic) which can help extract dirt and oils from under your skin and acts as a moisturiser which doesn’t clog pores!
- Use a moisturising lip balm such as Burts bees, Aquaphor repair balm or Vaseline these were my 3 go-to’s.
- No waxing, microdermabrasion, retinol or anything like that as it can lead to scarring
NO Sun Exposure
When on Roaccutane you are told to avoid the sun like the plague as your skin will be highly sensitised. So any form of UV light (sunbeds too) will cause you to burn and it can really cause long-term damage such as sun spots, premature wrinkles or hyperpigmentation. It really isn’t worth the risk in my opinion.
How to Combat:
- Use SPF 30 or use one of the BB creams I mentioned above that contain SPF.
- Avoid starting medication during summer
Are The Results Worth It?
After 4 months of hell and trying to work out how to deal with the side effects I am glad that I finished the course. I am also so happy that I got to write this post for you guys because I really think that the products and tips I’ve shared with you will make a dramatic difference for anyone who decides to go on Roaccutane.
I have now been acne free for almost 5 months now I have not had a single spot since finishing my treatment. It is honestly the only thing I have found to work for severe acne and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
If you have any questions or issues always feel free to msg me for advice or leave a comment below 🙂