Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Struggle with Acne

I've made the decision, along with my dermatologist, to begin Accutane next month. This decision has been almost ten long years in the making. I thought I would document it on here, in case anyone else is interested or considering taking Accutane. To give you some history:
I did not really have acne as a teenager or very young adult. I'd have a small breakout every once in a while at a certain time of the month, but nothing major. In fact, freshman year of college I distinctly remember coming in from long nights out and crawling straight into bed without washing my face on a frequent basis. I was doing pageants, working out all the time, and really, in hindsight, looked terrific.
Freshman Year
The first time I started struggling with acne was in the fall semester of 2005, when I was 21 years old. It definitely effects your self confidence, and I feel like I always look dirty when I have acne. Fall of 2005 started my long journey with doctors and medications. Since then I have been on two different topical medications, and probably four different antibiotics. I have also tried ProActiv, and am not a fan.
I would get on something and it would work great  -  often giving me about a year or sometimes longer of no acne problems at all. I would think I had outgrown acne. Then, one day, it would always quit working.
For the most part my acne has been controlled through different treatments and has never been too out of control. However, I do have some scarring from a few bad breakouts and I hate that. Let's just say I look different with and without foundation.
I remember winning a pageant and my skin looking okay. I was having a really bad skin day the day I had to ride in a parade, and was so embarrassed. I felt like no one would be able to believe I had ever won any pageant if they saw me up close and saw my complexion. It didn't help my self confidence  that this parade was also televised.

Christmas parade in Columbia, SC 2008
Most recently, I have not had to see my dermatologist for acne since 2012 (although I've been in there for other problems), and even that was not a bad breakout. This year around Thanksgiving I started breaking out and it only got worse from there. I went to see her on December 23rd, and she decided that we have tried enough different therapies without long term success and should consider Accutane. The breakout I was having has calmed down a lot since I saw her, but I am still so ready to begin Accutane.
Accutane is a somewhat controversial drug. It can have a lot of side effects, one of which is depression, and it extremely teratogenic. In layman's terms for those of you that haven't had a ton of science classes like I have, a teratogen is something that can lead to a birth defects. For example, mercury exposure during pregnancy may be a teratogen that causes Cerebral Palsy. Some of the birth defects caused by Accutane can be craniofacial abnormalities, cleft palates, and cardiovascular defects.
Accutane is also extremely effective. Among patients using for Accutane for a 20 week cycle, 50% never have acne again. Of those that do, it is much milder. The efficacy rate is what made me agree to it without hesitation.
Just beginning Accutane is a process because it is a federally regulated drug. I am on birth control, so I already had that requirement in place. I had to go to LabCorp to get a pregnancy test just to sign up to join a program called iPLEDGE, and will have to do so every month. I have to log into iPLEDGE every month and let them know my pregnancy test was negative, as well as have the test sent to my doctor's office. I also have to see my dermatologist every month to get the prescription in person. Accutane patients can only get one month filled at a time, and the prescription has to be filled within seven days of when it was written.
This IS a big commitment on top of everything that I have going on with work and school (8 hours this semester y'all), but I am so ready. I am scheduled to begin Accutane on February 13th, so I will update later on about how my first month goes.  
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1 comment:

  1. How is it going? I just ordered a retinol serum from Shani Over the past few months I've noticed my skin has been breaking out more often than it used to. I have red bumps and blotchy areas across my cheeks. I thought it might be makeup related but it's not. I'll let you know how I like it, I've heard many good things about it, we'll see :-/