Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Roaccutane Days

Since the documentary about the roaccutane drug 'Dying For Clear Skin' was shown on the BBC late last year it has come in to the public eye in a very negative way. During 2011 and 2012 I did two 3 month courses of the drug and wanted to share my experience for any one who is considering seeing a dermatologist for their acne.
I had terrible skin since I started secondary school, staring out with a few little red spots on my nose to eventually covering my whole face. My mum first dragged me to the doctors when I was about 13, I didn't really want to go, I wasn't that bothered about my spots- teenagers get spots right?! On this first visit I was prescribed some topical solution to be used in the evening. All went well and after a few weeks I noticed an improvement...then it stopped. Back to the doctors, another cream which worked then stopped on to antibiotics, creams, gels, contraceptive pills, hormone balancers...this went on for the best part of 10 years of my life. Outside of the prescribed medication I tried all the various anti-spot over the counter medicines, you know the ones- Freederm, Clearasil, Tee Tree Oils. Went to various places for facials and glycolic peels. Just like with everything, there was good times and bad times with my skin, but once I got in to my 20's it really started to bother me. I was too old for spots now.
I tried not to let it affect me, just hide it all under make up and no one would notice. But as I stood each morning caking my face I thought; I shouldn't have to be doing this. There were a few occasions where I thought I looked so bad I missed social occasions making up an excuse to stay in.
Enough was enough and back I went to the doctors. Having looked through everything I had been prescribed over the last 10 years she decided there was nothing else for it but to refer me to a dermatologist to be considered for roaccutane. She gave me a leaflet and warned me about possible side effects, but st that point I was desperate and ready for the next thing!
I had to go to our local hospital to meet with the dermatologist. I was weighed, measured and asked to do a pregnancy test before she handed over my new prescription. She told me to be aware of my mind and my body and to take the tablets accordingly, up to 3 a day.
I started the course that night and saw results really quickly. No new spots were coming through! Finally! All I had were the ones already on my face.
However, during this time side effects also kicked in. I was warned by a friend that I would 'dry up' and they weren't wrong! My lips became very chapped and I was piling on lip salve every 5 minutes, and putting chapped nipple cream (designed for breast feeding!) on the corners of my mouth as they were splitting and bleeding. You have to put factor 50 on everyday to stop your skin drying out, but despite this I could still pull it off in sheets with tweezers- disgusting! You get dry eyes and have to carry around eye drops and be careful driving. You get nosebleeds as the skin up your nose cracks. Even your lady parts are affected! One of the plus sides was that my hair didn't get greasy...ever! This was a blessing during festival season!
All of his makes it sound like a terrible experience, but it really wasn't. I watched happily as my skin quickly cleared and transformed to match everyone else's around me. If I found these effects were bothering me I simply dropped down to 1 tablet until symptoms had eased. I never progressed to 3 tablets. 
For the 'mental' side of things, I felt no different. I was happier as my skin was clearing! I do understand that there are negative mental side effects causing depression and anxiety which is why it has to be prescribed by professionals and for a short course. You have to go back to visit the dermatologist before you can collect your next prescription to be assessed, so if you have any worries or concerns this is the time to speak out or adjust your dose. For me it was a miracle and I'm so glad I took it. Two years on and my skin is still great! Of course I still get the odd little spot, who doesn't.

 Now I have rambled on enough...but I hope this is helpful to any one who is going through or considering roaccutane treatment. What's your experience, or do you have another wonder drug? Let me know in the comments below!

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