MY personal experience with Acutane: 12 day check in

July 23, 2020

Disclosure: I’m not a medical professional, I’m just sharing my experience in case it might help anyone else. Also, I want to see my journey over time too and thought this would be a fun way to document it.

So before we start at present day, day 12 of taking generic Acutane or isotretinoin, which is a vitamin A derivative. I’m going to back up to 2015, about three months after I stopped nursing my son when I first started getting cystic breakouts. I just assumed it was a hormonal thing having been pregnant and/or nursing for about 4 years at that point. I waited patiently for it taper off, but it really never did. In fact, it seemed to get worse and worse. I tried switching up things in my diet and definitely noticed that stressful seasons in life made it more prominent.

We moved from Portland, Oregon to Jacksonville in December 2018 and I made a commitment to myself that now that things have slowed down significantly for our family I’d be pursuing some self care I’d be neglecting for far too long. I joined a gym with childcare, and I started seeing a dermatologist in January 2019.

Before that, I’d only mentioned my acne once and that to my primary care doctor. They were only able to provide a prescription for a topical that cost me 60.00, because it wasn’t covered by insurance for anyone over 18. This really made me nervous I couldn’t afford any of the prescription products so I kept trying to treat with less expensive over the counter items to no avail. I also found I was a constant target for those “HEY GIRL. I see you have debilitating acne that you feel so vulnerable about. Let me sell you a product and help your own team and earn free vacations and become a millionaire in 2-3 months, join my team. XOXOOXO BEAUTY.” DMs on instagram. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the hustle and I try to support small business any chance I get, but those messages hurt my feelings during some of my lower points, confirming that people could very clearly see my imperfections, wishing that they were right and a simple 29.99 product could be a permanent solution.

I left my first dermatologist appointment feeling so hopeful. He validated my concerns about my acne by telling me it wasn’t vain (as I’d feared) and that my face was “angry.” He prescribed a steroid and a daily antibiotic to take down the bacteria that was causing my face to look and more importantly, feel, this way. The side effects were awful, and I switched to a second, then third antibiotic in the coming months. The third round I was on was clearing up my skin, but my stomach was in terrible shape! At the suggestion of a friend, I reached out to try a blood pressure medicine known for treating acne. She’d had great results using it, so I gave it a try once the doctor agreed it could be a good one for me. After taking this one for some time and still seeing minimal results, I really sank into a low place. I felt so ugly. I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin, but quite frankly I wasn’t comfortable. My cheeks had these tiny balls under the skin and everything seemed to aggravate them. I know I didn’t make things better, because I’d pop and pick and make them worse. They’d get scabby, they’d bleed, repeat.

I’d all but given up, when I shared a photo on Instagram in May that had so many of my followers commenting and direct messaging me to share their positive experiences with Acutane. A week later, I went to a new dermatologist (mine moved away) and began the 30 day process to start the treatment.

I’m 12 days in now, and I cannot believe the stark contrast in how I’m feeling. I feel so hopeful. Even in this short period, I’ve noticed my cystic acne has come to the surface. My face feels so much smoother. Before, the cystic nature of my acne gave me a bumpy/rough texture to my face. I’m definitely more thirsty than usual and almost always applying chapstick, but I’ll take it. I feel hopeful and already seeing great results. I can’t wait to see what my face is like in a few weeks.

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This Messy Season is a blog serving families through practical tips for nurturing their families, emphasizing quality time and adventure. Helping young families bloom where they're planted, embrace their mess, and thrive through a series of honest, blog posts highlighting realistic travel tips, favorite products that simplify the work load of families, and family entertainment.