35 Yo Female - Accutane Journey - Florida

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*Treatment results may vary

I thought it would be a good idea to keep a...

I thought it would be a good idea to keep a journal of events that occur while taking this drug. I keep googling if what I experience is the same as others, so maybe this will help others.
Day 1 - no side effects - started applying sunscreen and aquaphor on lips for preventative measures; also applying it on my face and in my nostrils at night as recommended by my Derm.
Derm also stressed to take with high oil foods - peanut butter, eggs, avocado, etc.
On period, currently have 4 cystic pimples for over a week and a few regular pimples
Day 2 - sore butt muscles on both sides - feels like I climbed a ton of stairs - they feel super tight like they need a good stretch, but I hadn't done any exercise that is out of the ordinary.
Day 3 - slight eye irritation in left eye and migraine - i do get migraines on a semi frequent basis; hands feel extremely dry - aquaphor on hands.
Day 4 - muscles feel normal; lips and eyes feel dry - increased frequency of aquaphor application on lips and started carrying artificial tears; small pimples gone; migraine finally lifted; hands still really dry
Day 5 - reduced amount of aquaphor at night because my face started feeling even more oily 24/7 - didn't think that was possible. 3 new cystic pimples, the original 4 - 3 smaller and 1 really inflamed and fluid filled (normally takes 1-2 months to not hurt); hands feeling norma
Day 6 - no change
Day 7 - other than existing acne, my skin texture is really nice. I feel it looks younger and healthier.
Day 8 - no change
Day 9 - while working out on treadmill - hip/butt pain after 40 minutes
Noticed drier skin on face - increased amount of aquaphor applied at night
External vagina dryness - itching - applied aquaphor.

Day 10-20

Day 10 still have vaginal itching ... It feels like a razor burn, aquaphor seemed so thick, decided to try coconut oil; skin on face is a little red/pink on my cheeks even though I have not been out in sun and I wear 50 SPF for my everyday get out the door routine and reapply when I have to go outside just to run errands.
Day 11 on the treadmill for over an hour and no pain in hips ???? hopefully can continue to do treadmill three days a week. I am taking fish oil supplements and vitamin B
Day 12 coconut oil worked so nice; now my scalp is super itchy and have noticed more hair shedding - very concerned about what I've read about people having lost half their hair as mine isn't very thick to begin with
Day 13 scalp is itchy but also tender if I touch hair; scalp is started to flake- which I've never experienced; massaged coconut oil on scalp and left on overnight
Day 14 washed coconut oil out, used Tgel shampoo - not the most pleasant smelling, argon oil conditioner
Day 15 scalp feels so much better and since its dry don't need to wash it. Pre-Accutane would have to shampoo hair at least once a day because of how oily it would get
Day 16 another no pain workout; I think my skin is doing better. Just rinsing hair with water (no shampoo) and conditioning.
Day 17 still feel like I am shedding more than normal, but scalp still feels better
Day 18 another no pain workout. Woke up feeling like I have a UTI- took AZO cranberry pills and will schedule dr appt next week if progresses through weekend. I drink between 50-70 ounces of water every day so I don't know if I need to increase water intake or because I increased I just need to go more often.
Day 19 got my hair done and had deep conditioning- did ombré highlights but didn't get roots done to prevent scalp irritation. Still feels like UTI but not during the entire day, only in the morning. After doing some research I don't believe I have a UTI, if it's like my other side effects it'll go away in a few days hopefully.
Day 20 don't feel like UTI anymore still taking cranberry pills. Lips are super dry even though I use aquaphor all day - will try other options - coconut oil perhaps. Less hair shedding today - looks like my normal shedding. I have increased dryness around my mouth and chin even with aquaphor mask at night - I can't imagine how much worse it would be without using aquaphor as a mask.

Overall, I am happy with my results and the side effects are manageable. After the first 30 days, I will probably keep a less detailed journal of my daily encounters.

Day 21-30

21 Distance vision seems to be declining when I'm indoors, but outside I'm fine. Maybe it has more to do with reading then looking up. And here come the blackheads, read about others' experience and was expecting it, but there are so many on and around my nose. I can feel them all as I wash my face and apply moisturizer.
22 No problems with treadmill over an hour.
23 few small pimples forming - chin and above lip. No problems with treadmill over an hour.
23 treadmill no problems. Black heads are improving.
25 chin pimples gone, one above lip I scratched and accidentally made skin peel - oops. Orange Theory workout increased heart rate - it was my first session; felt fine and got a great workout.
26 pimple on forehead forming
27 left eye irritation - increased eye drops for the day
28 nothing to report
29 Hip feels out of place, but I don't think it's related to Accutane. Started menstrual cycle, slight cramps. Orange Theory workout - no problems.
30 Orange Theory workout - no problems. Just dry lips and face with minor pimples resolving - one above lip is taking longer to heal.

My skin on my face and arms is noticeably drier so have increased applying lotion/moisturizer throughout the day.
New favorite sunscreen: Cotz flawless complexion - the healthier sunscreen - soothing mineral complex non-comedogenic moisturizing SPF 50
This one doesn't burn, and my face feels moisturized without looking like an oil slick, like some moisturizers with SPF.

Any ideas about what to do with hair products? I workout almost daily and my hair gets soaked with sweat. Not sure if shampooing daily is overkill on my scalp, and I should switch to just rinsing with water or conditioning. I am currently trying Renpure's cleansing conditioner - not sure how I feel about this product yet. Twice a week I use Hask Monoi coconut oil shampoo, I love the smell and feel of my hair afterwards. Neither product irritate my scalp. Once a week I massage my scalp with organic virgin coconut oil.

Diet - so research says that you need to take Accutane with a meal that's high in fats - 20 grams. Do I really need to eat 20 grams of fat twice a day to have this medicine absorb properly?!? I am 5'2" and weigh 120 pounds, this amount of fat seems like a lot to have twice a day, everyday. I've been trying to eat good fats - avocados, eggs, fish, nuts. I've been logging my meals in the myfitnesspal app - I love how I can find the nutritional value of all my foods and try to balance my macros.

One month down!!!! It's so nice to have small pimples that go away within a few days, versus the ones I normally got would take a couple months to go away (and still leave a mark). I feel much more confident with going out with my bare face!

Day 31-37

I had a two day break from Accutane between my first and second month due to scheduling. Within those two days, I started breaking out, which is still going on. This is typical during my period. The acne developed very quickly, usually it takes weeks to surface. I had one large cyst on the lower left of my chin that my Derm lanced because it was so painful and the skin was peeling. Skin couldn't stretch as fast as cyst was growing. It ended up being two coalesced together, and now is healing quickly. That was the only thing that happened on my left side. My right side however, looks awful right now. I had a cyst that finally "popped" yesterday on my apple of my right cheek. There are eight smaller pimples that are in various phases of healing. Derm upped my dosage from 60mg to 80 mg (40 twice a day) and gave me Aczone to topically apply to any actives to help reduce the inflammation. Last month I was taking Claravis and now I'm on Zetatane.

This week has been pretty relaxing, and I've had very minimal stress. My orange theory workouts are still going well. I hope I can continue with them throughout the whole course. Since I workout frequently, I have to wash my hair more often then I probably would need to if I didn't work up a sweat. I use conditioner when I wash my hair and only shampoo once a week when I do a hot oil treatment. Hopefully this will keep my hair healthy. I did have increased shedding in the first month for about five-ten days, when my scalp was itchy; now I'm shedding less than prior to Accutane.

This week I had increased urination frequency, but I had drank over 100 ounces of water that day (normally drink 60-80 while on Accutane and maybe 40 prior to Accutane). It did worry me a little, but since it went away within 24 hours, I'll monitor my water consumption more closely and mention it at my next appointment. My bladder is only use to holding so much water. I've had UTIs in the past, and this did not feel anything like that. After reading about others' experiences with interstitial cystitis, I started to get concerned. Waking up every hour or so to go to the bathroom wasn't pleasant, so I'm relieved that it went away. But it makes sense that if you increase water consumption, then the frequency to urinate would increase as well. Has anybody else experienced this?

Other than that, my side effects are typical. I have dry lips, but manageable with my assortment of lip products. Some days aquaphor is the best option, others I prefer Nivea or Lypsyl. My skin has been really itchy this past week, especially my face, back and arms. I did experience some isolated scaly dry skin near my elbow, but that peeled off and now looks like dry skin despite how much lotion I use. Dry eyes have improved. Also I can breath better, usually I have a little sinus congestion due to allergies. I didn't realize last month that I could breath through both nostrils all day and night long. Living in Florida my allergies usually act up quite a bit. Prior to starting Accutane I was treated for a sinus infection with antibiotic and corticosteroid. I haven't needed to use antihistamines, nasal rinses or nasal sprays since I've been on Accutane. Would be nice if this was permanent.

Hopefully my breakouts decrease. I was a bit surprised to have so many pop up so quickly and am scared about if this will happen every month around my period. I've read others experiencing an initial breakout; hopefully this is it, and I won't have another one this bad (fingers crossed). I'm also worried about the scarring; I've read contradicting information about the healing/scarring of acne while on Accutane.

The first three pics are from three days ago, four days after my Derm appt. I wish I would have taken a before pic of what the cyst looked like prior to lancing; I'm amazed at how much it has improved. And the others are from today.

Day 38-44: Let's Switch Sides

As my right side of my face is clearing up, same spots still healing, my left side has some acne surfacing. The one on my cheek is cystic; the others are small and similar to what I had going on on my right side. My lips are still dry, but manageable. My skin did have some slight peeling above my eyebrows and nose, similar to after a sunburn. I'm surprised at the peeling because my skin doesn't feel as irritated as it did the first month. I just keep moisturizing and applying sunblock. The skin on my face and neck feel waxy, don't really like it - I'm using Cetaphil and Cerave moisturizers as was recommended by my Derm. The scaliness near my elbows came back, will be applying more aquaphor. Both of my hands had tiny scab-like rough spots in the hair follicles near my thumb. I've been applying aquaphor there as well and it has improved. My arms are the only thing that was itchy this week. Another wonderment - my iPhone thumb scan doesn't recognize my thumb ... I reset it and it still has issues. My fingers and thumbs are looking prune-like without soaking in water. More lotion and drink more water?

This week I have felt bloated and gassy, no pain or discomfort. I started eating oatmeal for breakfast instead of eggs to decrease my cholesterol, perhaps I will switch back to see if it helps. Will definitely be mentioning this at my next Derm appointment. I've never had IBS and only had digestion problems when I had an allergic reaction to antibiotics and had to be put on steroids... Which was several years ago (maybe 10 years ago). I'm regular and everything looks normal, but I will continue to monitor closely. I've read up on the potential issues that Accutane may have on the GI system. I appreciate what others have shared, but at the same time am terrified. I just keep praying about it!

This week is the first time I felt "old". I've been working out this entire time, and it hasn't really bothered me. The "old" feeling only lasted one day. My lower back felt achy-sore, not workout sore. And my knees were a little bit achy, but nothing bad. Almost felt like flu symptom achy, which makes it uncomfortable to sit or lay down. I went to bed so early that night. I felt fine the next day and worked out like the achy-ness had never been. Today my sports bra rubbed my skin raw between my boobs ... Will have to be careful what type of sports bra I wear.

Here's to another week down. Going on vacation this weekend. Will be hanging out in the shade with my SPF 50+ and enjoying a cruise ... They always have lots on indoor entertainment.

Hope everyone out there is doing well.

Day 45-53

More acne, and I can feel more clogged pores. More dryness. Sometimes have discomfort in my right foot on pinky side after sitting Indian style. Skin on arms got really irritated, red and peeling, from life vest rubbing.

Day 54-60

Forehead is back to looking normal and chin has cleared up. Still have actives on my cheeks. I have some dry patches near my mouth and the skin on my body is flaking off. It doesn't matter how much lotion I put on my skin, I guess all part of the process. I am using a shower oil on my body and aquaphor on my dry patches on face.

Half way through, 3 months done!

Things are going well. I'm still taking 40mg Zenatane twice a day (80mg daily). All the spots from last time took a couple weeks to smooth out. They did leave some scarring, but derm thinks that they will probably diminish a couple months after I've completed the 6 month treatment. I only have the one new spot on my right cheek that happened during my cycle, but only took a few days for the inflammation to subside.
As side effects go, they have been very manageable. Dry lips and skin have stayed the same, I am using Eucerin Eczema Relief whenever it gets itchy. Only my arms get really itchy. I did get a mosquito bite that was more itchy than normal and left a mark on my leg. I'm still doing my orange theory workouts two to three times a week, no problems there. I am careful with my knees and don't lift heavy, but I've been running the same as before I started taking isotretinoin. For the past couple weeks, my right hand hurts, between my thumb and index finger, when I pick up a full jug of milk or equivalent, but feels normal with everything else. Im hoping that goes away. Also lights while driving at night are unusually brighter and irritate my eyes, so I try not to drive at night.

Morning- Cetaphil gentle cleanser, CoTZ® Flawless Complexion SPF 50
Evening - Cetaphil gentle cleanser, CeraVe moisturing lotion

Shower - Caress daily silk, Monoi Coconut Oil nourishing shampoo or L'Oréal cleansing balm (shampoo hair twice weekly), Lanza healing moisture kukui nut conditioner, Up&Up body oil - apply directly after shower before I use towel
Makeup - Tarte BB tinted treatment, Jane Iredale pure pressed base mineral foundation, I've also tried Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow foundation (not my favorite, however, it doesn't dry face or look cakey. my pre-accutane foundations were for oily skin and now dry out my face) I try not to wear anything heavy. And I prefer not to wear makeup while my skin is transitioning. It also saves time to get ready. Anyone know of any good foundations that I should try?

Day 91-97

Another new spot on right cheek.
Everything else the same as last post.

Day 98-120

4 months down and onto month 5!!! Still on the same dosage: 40 mg twice a day. My right wrist discomfort has increased, I've been wearing a brace to minimize my usage and to keep it in a neutral position; gardening one day really was overkill. The other thing that has changed is achy-ness and tightness in my hips and butt area. It's very manageable. I take one ibuprofen capsule when needed which is NOT a daily occurrence, and I stretch more. It bothers me more when I sit for long periods of time, but has no impact on working out. I worked out five days this past week doing Orange Theory Fitness: jogging, rowing, and light-mid weights (I never do heavy weights, my wrists can't handle it).
My skin is definitely drier, but I was expecting that with fall. I apply more lotion to my body than I did before and I've kept the same regimen for my face. Derm said that if my scaliness on my arms and back get worse she can prescribe a lotion. I think I can manage with the over the counter lotion; it doesn't itch that much, just feels really rough.
I haven't had a new breakout on my face since my last post, which is amazing! I did have a new pimple (ingrown hair?) on my butt during my period; Aczone has helped the inflammation go down, now it just feels like a hard knot.
Overall I'm happy with the results thus far and look forward to further improvement. I am a little concerned about the acne coming back after I stop taking the isotretinoin just because it's taken awhile for my face to stop breaking out. Fingers crossed and praying that I won't need additional treatments.

Day 121-141

No new acne, BUT
I am very concerned about the hair loss. At the beginning I had noticed the increased shedding, but that had slowed down. But within the last couple months I have noticed the increased shedding again. Usually when I wash my hair and comb it. It has thinned out so much! I only wash my hair on days I workout because I sweat so much, I HAVE TO! I am actually thinking about not working out as much so I don't have to wash my hair :-(.

I've been working out 3-5 times a week. I feel tightness in the heals of my feet, butt, knees and hips. It feels like a tightness of the ligaments more than the muscles. Inclines on the treadmill caused discomfort in my knees- IT band issues. Within the last two months I have lost a lot of flexibility. I stretch regularly, and the loss of flexibility is significant. Also more uncomfortable to stay seated for long durations.

Skin is drier, but not uncomfortable. Sometimes I have dry patches and itchy arms at night. I have been using Eucerin eczema lotion on my body to alleviate, feels greasy, but solves dry skin problems.

I feel tired more often. I am in grad school, so the constant studying does strain the eyes and mind. My mind has a harder time staying focused. I normally can read a book and study nonstop for hours. Now I find myself getting easily distracted. Yesterday I slept in till 11am, I normally wake up at 7am even when I don't need to. The sleep was nice, just surprising that I could stay in bed SLEEPING that long.

That's it for now. Hope everyone is doing well!

5 months down!

Not much has changed since last post.
My arms and neck are super itchy. My derm prescribed a steroid cream to use twice daily until itchiness and scaliness subsides.

For my last month of treatment, I have the option of doing the same dosage for 15 days (40mg twice a day) or reducing the dosage to 40mg once a day for 30 days.
I haven't decided what to do. Part of me just wants to get it over with, but another part of me thinks it may be beneficial to "gradually" discontinue. Any recommendations are welcome.

The end

I decided to finish up early; I did some days with 40 mg twice a day and some only once a day over the span of 20 days. The hair shedding had increased even more, it was unreal how much hair would come out when I washed and combed my hair. I do have new hair growth over the past six months, however it is kinky or wavy in texture; my hair is mostly straight. It had gotten really frizzy looking even when I had applied so many different hair oils and serums to "tame the frizz"; nothing tamed it. The other thing that had me ready for it to be over was the tightness in my hip flexors and the heals of my feet.

Since I am now 24 days post isotretinoin, the hair shedding and joint tightness is gradually getting better every day. I had a derm appointment last week, and she told me that my hair would get back to normal in about nine months. I can still go days without washing my hair and the frizziness has improved, but I still need to apply hair products for a more polished look. I have also been going to the chiropractor since I've finished for an overall tuneup, and I have an ongoing shoulder injury from years ago that flares up doing certain activities. I had stopped going because I was unsure if getting adjustments would be a good idea on isotretinoin. He recommended inserts in my running shoes and WOW what a difference. The additional support and the stretching exercises he recommended have really helped alleviate the heal tightness substantially. My flexibility is gradually getting better; stretching actually feels like its doing some progress now. While taking isotretinoin, stretching didn't seem to improve flexibility even though I was stretching more than I had in years.

While on isotretinoin my allergy and sinus problems magically went away. They are slowly coming back, maybe its the time of year? My face is still clear and my skin is still dry. My derm thinks that my scaring will mostly go away in the next few months and the redness should go away sooner. I will have another followup appointment in about 3-4 months. My skin no longer itches and its not as delicate. During treatment, my skin had gotten so delicate, my fingers would have cuts and scrapes from almost anything. My lips are not constantly dry now, only need to apply lip balm maybe 2-3 times a day and no longer need it constantly. My nails became stronger during treatment, only time will tell if it goes back to being flimsy nails that peel. Also I'm no longer exhausted or tired feeling ... I'm back to staying up late and restless sleeping, I'm a light sleeper. I was hoping that I could keep the heavy sleeping to continue getting my eight hours of sleep.

Overall I'm happy with the results and, as long as my face stays clear, it was worth it. My derm seems to think that I will never have acne again, maybe an occasional pimple at worst. I hope she is right!

This process has helped me analyze different aspects of life: diet, exercise, sleep, mind function, body function. I do feel my diet and exercise have improved over the course of the treatment. When I say diet, I'm not talking about eating to lose weight (ten pounds), I'm generalizing my food intake. I actually ate more calories and fat while on isotretinoin to make sure that I was absorbing the medication properly. I did lose weight over my course of treatment, and felt like I was force feeding myself more food than what I had an appetite for. Now that I'm done, I will probably minimize my fat intake, but will try to keep eating about the same proportions of healthier items such as vegetables and fruit. Towards the end I was running four days a week, sometimes five because of all the christmas cookies I had eaten. Isotretinoin definitely helped me sleep better. Towards the end my mind function seemed scatter brained and forgetful, granted I am a grad student and the end of a semester is always stressful with finals, papers, and projects. I didn't seem as anxious while on the medication, I cared about things, but not to the point of being stressed; I was able to be more objective and not as emotional. Body function didn't change other than tight joints and I was more regular. I feel its important to analyze oneself from time to time to determine if something is having a positive or negative effect on one's life. I wish everyone luck on this journey. And I will try to continue to check in if there are any changes worth noting.
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