Write a review

Roaccutane: I Hope It's Worth It. - Australia, AU

I was about ten years old when I got my first...

I was about ten years old when I got my first pimple. I had never noticed them on other people in my school, or even on my older brother - until I got my first one. I asked my mum about it, and she told me to leave it alone and it would go away.

Fast forward five years, and I'm fifteen, being put on the pill and antibiotics at the same time to try and combat bad skin, after trying a multitude of over-the-counter products, and having many facials for problem skin. Many people reassured me that my skin "wasn't that bad" and "it wasn't like I had acne".
But I still remember coming home on the bus from school one afternoon, covering my face because I was so embarrassed by my face.

Fast forward six more years; I'm twenty-one, and still having skin problems. I've literally tried everything - antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, facials (by beauticians), pH balances, over-the-counter face wash and facial scrubs - you name it, I've tried it! And yet some nights I still find myself making excuses to not appear at social events, because I'm embarrassed by my face. When I look in the mirror, I often wonder "is this really as good as it's going to get?" and "I thought it would get better after teenage years?".
My mum still gets upset when I come for a visit, and my skin is red, bumpy and sore.

However, after waiting for a few months, I finally got in to a dermatologist, who looked at my face for a few moments with his special goggles and recommended I try a course of Roaccutane. He told me that I most definitely had acne - and a complex case of acne that would continue to get worse, which is consistent with my symptoms.
My skin has progressively gotten a lot worse in the past eight months. I had a period where it had gotten better, and I thought I had finally escaped the clutches of acne! And then it got worse, and worse, and worse.

Currently, my forehead is constantly sore, and my face is always very red. Often I have flare-ups on my chin which are very painful. I have several (at least seven) large, painful cysts on my face, which have been present for several months with no recovery.

It was a bit of a relief when my doctor recommended Roaccutane. But I'm a little worried about the scary side effects. Luckily, I'm heading home for a month halfway through June during my university holidays, where my family can keep and eye on me, just in case I have any mood changes.
I'm also a little worried about the initial worsening of my acne at the start of the medication, but my mum has already said I can hide out at home if it gets too bad!

I know it will be worth it if it helps my skin to become clearer and less sore. I'm hoping to have clear skin for my university graduation in December.

I'm still signing all the documents, and am getting my blood test on Monday. However, I am supposed to begin my Roaccutane treatment next Thursday.
So hopefully in the next month or two I will see some positive results for my poor skin! I'll update soon regarding my skin progress.

Three weeks in.

I started my Roaccutane treatment three weeks ago today, and next Thursday I get to double my dosage.
So far the most annoying aspect has been my dry (and occasionally cracked) lips, but I combat that by always having paw paw ointment on me, and especially using it before bed. It usually keep my lips fairly smooth.
I am feeling very good about my overall progress with Roaccutane so far, and look forward to hopefully continuing down a path to clearer skin in the next month.
The first thing I really found that my skin was actually clearing up! I came home to my parents, and my mother sang the praises of Roaccutane. Something I did find, however was that my skin was more oily than usual (and it was usually fairly oily!), and my hair was very very oily and my scalp was very dry and itchy. I looked like I had quite severe dandruff at one point.
I was a little worried about how oily my skin was, and was worried that the medication was having the reverse effect - making my skin more oily, instead of drying it out!
However, I woke up a few days ago, and all of a sudden my skin was dry. I didn't have to wash my hair for several days because it wasn't oily at all (which is very unusual, I usually need to wash my hair every second day, or everyday). Also, my dry, itchy scalp has settled right down. I guess my body just took nearly three weeks to expel all of the oil in my skin.
However, I have found that I am peeling quite badly on my nose, which is a shame. It makes it seem like I badly sunburned my nose. I have been using moisturizer regularly, and especially before bed to try and fix this up.
But the good news is that some of the cysts look like they're healing up. A few have shrunk in size.
The bad news is that I'm starting to get the break-out that I was warned about when I started Roaccutane. My face has been quite sore over the past few days due to a sudden flare up of several of my cysts at once.
However, I am very happy to report that even though my skin is flaring up, my face is not as red as it usually is - it's only red where my acne is! Improvement!!
I haven't found there to be any change in my mood or demeanor - if anything, I think I've been feeling a lot happier!
So far the only side effects I have found is oilier skin, then dry skin, and the occasional nose bleed (which are very small anyway, and usually in the morning).

Third Month Blues.

I've started my third month of Roaccutane today, and I start it sad. My face has flared up, is very red, very sore and very bumpy. Today, I could not wear my sunglasses or my reading glasses due to a very large painful lump on the side of my nose, that I convinced myself that no one noticed. It's disheartening that I've been taking the Roaccutane for two months now, and my skins looks as bad as ever.
However, I'm still hopeful! Hopefully in the next month or so, my skin will really start to clear up, and all the big nasty lumps will disappear.
I don't go back to my doctor for another month and a half yet, but I'm hoping that if all is not well by then he may up my dosage.
I've been having more trouble with side effects too. The good news, is my hair is not going as oily as fast as it used too! I used to have to wash my hair daily/every second day, but now I can go 4-7 days without washing it, which has been really good for my hair. I still suffer with a tiny bit of dandruff, but it's totally managable.
The not so nice side effects are: dry skin and lips (my feet are scaly on one side!! Ew!), nose bleeds, and a very nasty rash that has taken over both my arms. I have to consciously ensure that I don't scratch my arms, or else I end up making myself bleed, due to my skin being quite fragile from the Roaccutane! So my arms are a bit scabbed up at the moment, and I really need to go to a pharmacy to get some cream to fix my arms up. They've been like this for about 3 weeks now, but I've been quite busy so it hasn't been a priority (it's currently winter here, so I wear long sleeves/cardigans every day). But it's getting to be a problem so I need to have it fixed!
However, I still haven't found that I've had any mood changes yet, so I'm very happy about that. All I need now is for my skin to start clearing up, and I'll be very very happy!
Here's hoping my skin will clear up in the next month.

Still no success.

I'm almost at the four month mark of my treatment; nearly half way through.
It's disheartening for me to have to say once again, that my face is still quite bumpy and sore. I still have lots of awful awful cysts on my face, with there being a really unpleasant one on the edge of my bottom lip, near the corner of my mouth - it looks like a cold sore, and I don't get cold sores!
I have also noticed that I have an awful amount of scarring on my cheeks and forehead recently - if anyone has any tips for reducing this, I would appreciate it.
My face is still horribly sore, but one positive is that my face is less red, and I have had many comments from my friends and family about this.
I went back to my dermatologist last week, who was very unhappy with my face at this time. He said that my face should have cleared around the six week mark of my treatment (about two months ago). He also believes that my acne infection was a lot worse than what he originally thought.
This being so, he decided to keep me on my current dosage (40mg/day), but also prescribed me a "methylprednisolone aceponate" cream, that has benzyl alcohol in it. It's supposed to help heal up some of my bumps on my face. Here's hoping, anyway.
It's a bit disheartening to be about to enter my fifth month of treatment, to so far have minimal success - especially when my lips are splitting open regularly (by smiling, or putting a spoon in my mouth). Here's hoping my lips are the same after I finish the Roaccutane.
Anyway, I'm not noticing a huge change with the cream, but I'm still hopeful. And here's hoping that next month I will finally be able to say that my skin is clearing up!

Five months went fast.

I saw my mum last weekend, who spent half the day admiring me skin, and going on about how much better it was. It's a stark difference to the last time I saw her, where she was upset with how my skin hadn't improved.
It's nice that changes are finally happening! My skin is still healing, and I have one large cyst on my jawline that has only recently come up - but it's markedly improved from the last time I posted here.
The last time I posted here, I was feeling despair, as though I was doomed to a life of bad skin. But my skin is finally, slowly healing. I don't appear to be getting as many new blemishes, and my skin in general is feeling quite soft and smooth.
I've been very stressed at this present time, as I'm finishing up my degree and have had a lot of assessment due. It's good that this stress has not affected my skin (or the Roaccutane has stopped it from getting worse). My diet hasn't been great over the past few weeks as well (typical uni student under stress), but again, my skin doesn't appear to have been affected.
My skin has not been too bad for dryness, and I haven't had many nosebleeds, however my lips are as bad as ever.
I have had some mood changes recently, but nothing too serious, plus being under a great deal of stress at uni probably has worsened the situation.

Overall, I'm feeling a lot more positive this month. I'm hoping that I will have good news again when I post here next.

Getting there

Happy 2014! I was very busy over the Christmas period - sorry that this update is so late!!
My skin is doing really well! That being said, I have quite a large cyst underneath my chin right now, but other than that and a few small spots on my forehead and cheeks, my skin is pretty much clear!
It's been really great to go out, not wearing any makeup or tinted moisturiser, and not feel really embarrassed or self conscious about my skin. It's been very liberating.
However, I can't deny that I am a tiny bit disappointed that I'm at seven months, and my skin isn't perfectly clear - which seems to be somewhat of a "guarantee" of Roaccutance.
I'm also finding that my skin is having trouble healing - whether it's something on my face, or something on my leg. I'm not too concerned about that though, but hopefully it won't cause too much scarring on my face!
My lips are as dry as ever, but my skin hasn't been too bad for dryness. Emotionally, I'm doing fine as well.
So mostly thumbs up from me for this update! I am going to see my doctor in the next few weeks, so I will update soon.
Was this review helpful?

Comments (19)

Sort by

HELP! I have always suffered from bad skin form the age of 13 (now 22)I have been suffering from severe cystic acne for 1 year now (I believe it was all bought on by a lot of stress over time) this covers my face, neck, arms, shoulders and back. I started Accutane 17 weeks ago. My face has cleared up a lot but has left red marks which I can deal with for now. but my main concern is my back, it got worse at week 2 of the medication and had continued to get worse. I have suffered from nearly every side effect that you’ve ever read! These past three months have been the longest, worst time of my life. I have lost all motivation, confidence and self-esteem. I’ve spend hundreds of dollars on a new wardrobe to cover myself up and constantly feel like I ned to check my dry skin. I haven’t worn my hair up in 10 months now as it covers my neck. No ointments, creams or vitamins have ever helped me. My derm put me on antibiotics for 4 courses to give the Accutane a kick in-this did nothing except give me typical horrible side effects of antibiotics. I take 2 tablets or Accutane 3 times a week. If I up my dosage any more I get nausea, vomiting, back pain to the point I can’t walk or move, always tired, eye sight is effected…its horrible. I suffer from anxiety as a result of Accutane and am constantly stressed as each day I wonder when this will all be over! Will this ever clear up being on such a low dosage or do I need to up my dosage and put up with the side effects? I was so excited to be starting this drug as I thought my life would be looking up… so far I am nothing but disappointed, sick, tired and tipping over edge. I am well and truly over this and would love to feel normal again! Can anyone help? Any tips, home remedies? Lotions? Thankyou!!
  • Reply
Hey there, sorry to hear you are having such grief with Accutane, I did some research on our Doctors FAQ's and thought these may help, also feel free to post your own question to the Doctors as well. 

FAQs:

MY SON HAS BEEN ON ACCUTANE FOR 8 WEEKS HIS ACNE HAS GOTTEN MUCH WORSE.

MY SKIN IS EXTREMELY SENSITIVE AND DRY AFTER ACCUTANE COURSE. HOW LONG WILL THIS LAST?
DOES ACCUTANE CAUSE/AGGRAVATE ANXIETY?


  • Reply
I totally agree with the person that stated to increase water consumption. Not only that, make sure that water is "clean" water. My guess is that you are and have been dealing with a "toxic liver" even prior to treatment. By not eating a clean (and often times raw diet) wrecks havoc on a person's skin. You are what you eat and what is going in comes out through the skin. Have you tried dry heat infrared saunas or red light (non invasive) therapy? This along with cleaning up the diet and detoxing the liver has helped my clients achieve clear skin.
  • Reply
I second that JoniS, it wasn't til I changed to a vegan - 80% raw diet that my cystic acne issue resolved. Water is my choice throughout the day other than juicing. 
  • Reply
Awesome to hear things have started to work out for you. Has your derma finally raised your dose? Tane will never keep you %100 clear. You have to remember, its shrinking your glands, not killing them off. I have been off Tane for about a year and a half to 2 years now. My acne was mostly backne. I still break out back there once in a while but its nothing like what it was before Tane. I used to get many quarter sized cysts that made it painful to just sit sometimes cause the back of the chair would put pressure on them. After tane, I get the odd pimple or blackhead that usually heals very quickly, but nothing more. As another poster mentioned, looking for triggers may also help. I found sitting in my polyester ultra soft robe all day or polyester shirts would result in a break out. After switching to %100 cotton robe, t-shirts and bed sheets, my breakouts are almost nil. I also tend to break out more in the winter then the summer. I think its because I get a lot more sun exposure on my back in the summer Vs the winter. If you have any cysts left at this point or any more pop up, I would contact your derma or any cosmetic place that offers cortisone shots. There usually pretty cheap. ($5 or $10) a session. They inject cortisone into the cyst and within 48 hours, its completely healed and no scars.
  • Reply
Happy New Year! Glad to hear you're doing well! I understand the struggles with acne - I had cystic from the age of 18 - mid 30's. I have cleared my problem up but my scars remain. Do you have an updated photo you can share? Also (and sorry if i've missed this) have you gone over your diet to see if there are any trigger foods?
  • Reply
I have been on isotretinoin for 2 months now. There has been a marked improvement in my skin condition. Please don't use oil based moisturizers or makeup. This will ususally compound the problem and limit the effectiveness of the medication. I also highly recommend the Sebamed foaming face wash and clear face gel. Their products are brilliant for acne prone/sensitive skin. I hope you skin starts getting better soon. Best of luck.
  • Reply
I hope it gets better for you!
  • Reply
I am very surprised by the lack of results by on the same side.. not surprised as well if that makes any sense. I think the biggest factor against you right now is the low dose your taking. I understand 40mg's is a good starter month. But given the severity of your acne, your derma should have really upped your dose to 80 or even 120 by month 2 unless he was worried you were not dealing with the side effects well. Accutane works best in short time but high dose VS long time and low dose. Now here comes the worst part : ( Your body ie: your liver, can only take so much Tane. If you decide to do another round, and I would... but with a different derma, then your going to have to wait at least 6 months between treatments because you liver needs time to heal. Next time you see your derma, I would really question him/her as to why they choose to keep you at such a low dose cause its only stalling your treatment. Tane can effectively treat %90 of all cases and of the %10 left over, a second treatment can treat those %5. I really doubt your in the %5 category the drug failed for but you'll never know if your derma keeps messing around with by not giving you a more aggressive dose to treat it. Forget the face creams. The wont work unless you shrink your sebaceous glands and force the active acne to the surface to heal as the creams can only go so deep. Dont loss hope! I dont think this is you or the drugs that's causing this delay, I blame your derma. If this treatment ends and your not happy with the results, dont give up. Let your liver heal and start another round. lol.. and dont worry, when your done Tane, everything goes back to normal. I took about 3 weeks of being off the drug before I could feel my lips again and they stopped cracking. It took about 2 months before all the redness went away.
  • Reply
I''m trying not to stress too much about it, but I'll definitely have a think about some of the things you've suggested here. I'm still hopeful that this round will have some success yet!! And I'm glad to hear that my lips won't be cracked forever... I miss wearing lipstick!
  • Reply

Hey I'm nearly 4mths on roaccutane and I'm from syd Australia. I'm abit upset also as I only have 6 wks left and still getting the odd pimple. I did start on very low mg but am now on 60. So I guess I'm catching up. Have been very moody when I see a new breakout. Alone and scared... Someone help.

  • Reply
Thanks for the update... keep them coming!
  • Reply
Thanks for the update... please keep them coming!!
  • Reply
PS: As for the nosebleeds.. I got those too. There's one sure fire remedy and its going to sound terrible. And it is terrible,, but it works. This is where that product I recommended comes in called Aquaphor by a company called Eucerin. Before bed, you take a small amount of Aquaphor and put it on a q-tip. Then .. apply it up your nose and coat it as high as the sinensis. Do this twice a week and I promise you, It does the job! Awful.. but extremely effective. It helps keep the blood vessels moist and prevents nose bleeds. You're headed into winter right now depending on what side of AU your on and i'm sure the climate is very drying on the skin. The nosebleeds will only get worse if you don't treat them.
  • Reply
Thanks again for your advice! Yes I am loving using moisturizer at the moment! I have three different types for when my skin is behaving in different ways. I'm also really not liking mineral makeup (which is what I was told to use as it doesn't add oil to the skin), because I feel like it's not doing anything at all! But overall I'm mostly trying to avoid using makeup anyway. And yes I have tried using a ointment in my nose! It does help, but the problem is that once it settles down, I forget to do it for a few days (aka until my nose bleeds again...). And in regards to wintertime - I actually live in a quite humid place! But in two weeks I'll be moving to somewhere very dry for two months so I'll have to be even more vigilant then.
  • Reply
It really is having the reverse effect but not in the way you think it is. Your purging ... well.. the medication is purging you. As the meds kick in, its squeezing your sebaceous glands and shrinking them. Its also drawing ance to the surface of your skin which is a good thing cause its easier to treat. Don't worry about the dandruff, When I was on Accutane, lol... I got it too. Just keep washing with an anti dandruff shampoo like Head and shoulders. If you find thats still not helping, Get a good oily conditioner like "Got 2b" Oil-Licious. Leave it in your hair and on your scalp for a good couple of mins and it should do the trick. Remember .. you have to totally switch up your thinking especially as your dose increases and you take more meds. While on Accutane, you're not not an acne sufferer anymore, youre an eczema sufferer and need to treat your skin as such! Moisturisers are your best friend now. Not the enemy. Don't get discouraged!!! For most ppl on Accutane, its not until about the 3rd month that they start seeing amazing results. You will notice one thing soon though if you haven't already... your skin is about to get super smooth. Kinda of like just having a chemical skin peel. You might also get some red blotching on your face. Its normal. When I was on Tane I also peeled quite a bit. To fight this, at bedtime I would pile on a thick moisturizer like Nivea especially in places like my nose and ear lobes as they peeled a lot! Then in the morning, after my shower, I would use a light moisturizer to wear for the day and kept it with me incase I started peeling again. The moisturizer will also help with any scarring that may come up as acne heals. Its kind of like getting a tattoo. If you have even gotten one, they encourage you to slather your tattoo with moisturizer to help repair the skin and keep the scabing and scar tissue to to a minimum. Its the same thing with acne. You want it to heal... just... not to fast. And last, if you find your getting any kind of skin tenderness, there might be other things causing it along with the Accutane. Wash your bed sheets and pillows with a mild scent free laundry soap and skip on high perfume fabric softeners. Also polyester ANYTHING can irritate the skin. Sheets , cloths, anything that can come in contact with your face or body can irritate you. Switch out for %100 cotton especially sheets, pillowcases and blankets! Cotton also soaks up and absorbs excess moisture as opposed to polyester that just leaves it in contact with your skin. Hope some of this info helps you along the way. Cheers from Canada!
  • Reply
Also... Make sure to take your Tane with the fattiest meal of your day. The fat content help break down and absorb the Tane more effectively.
  • Reply
I posted this on someone else's post as well but its important info. While on Accutane, get an Accutane survival kit! It is crucial. Items include: Aquapher. It comes in a tube like toothpaste does. Use on lips at all times to help prevent cracking and chapping. Aveda Lip saver with SPF 15 is also a good product but a little pricey. Lip chap and balms will not work. A mild moisturizer ( what ever bottle brand ) and a thick moisturizer like Nivea that comes in the blue jars as your going to start peeling a lot. You might be tempted to exfoliate but don't. It can make your skin angry! Spectro care intense moisturizer if you break out in eczema rash. That stuff will make the rash go away in a day or two. Eye drops like natural tears 2. Stay away from Visine. Head and shoulders. Yep .... incoming dandruff. There are also two rules when on Accutane. Number one: no drinking alcohol. Your liver is going to be under stress. Alcohol will make it worse. Rule number two: You must remember to drink plenty of fluids. Especially water as it helps flush toxins. Accutane dries you from the inside out but also robs you of joint and cerebral fluids. You must replenish these fluids. Basic rule is .. if you pee yellow on Accutane .. your not drinking enough. If you pee clear .. your doing ok. If you don't replenish these fluids it leads to serious joint pain and headaches. Its going to be a big change in skin type from were you are now, to being a dried up prune and having this stuff in your arsenal is going to make Tane a lot more bearable. Don't get discouraged during any part of the treatment. Its normal to "purge" for the first month or two as the Accutane forces acne to the surface of the skin. Its also normal to have a flare up or two during the full course of treatment. Wear sunblock!!! Even if you don't burn, Accutane makes you very sensitive to the sun. If it doesn't work the first time.. its ok. It is normal to have to do a second or even third treatment of Accutane. And last, Take pictures, even if you never plan to share, to track your progress week by week.
  • Reply
Thanks for the advice!! I will be shopping for all of my essentials later this week - I have to buy all new moisturizers and makeup. I'm going to do this properly, and am buying all the brands they suggest even if they're a little pricey. And I had heard that I should drink loads of water...but it's good to know that it will help with the sore joints! Thank you so much for all your advice!
  • Reply