Roaccutane (serious sh*t)

I’ve had acne for 30 years. When I say that, it just sounds ridiculous. How could I have had it for 30 years?

I got spots before all the other kids. Mine weren’t the worst, but they were certainly among them. And they never went away. Surely they would go at 20? 25? 30? They never went. In fact, they got worse. They’ve been worse in my 30s and now 40s than they ever were in my teens.

At 16 I went on oxytetracycline (an antibiotic), which I stayed on until I was 20. I had brief periods on dianette, a version of the pill which is good for acne. At 20 I switched to zineryt, an antibiotic lotion. I’ve used that for pretty much 20 years. About every two years the spots will get worse, I will go back to the doctor, he will give me something else and they will get slightly better. Then they’ll get even worse and I’ll be back on the zineryt.

So two months ago I finally got a referral to the hospital for roaccutane. In the meantime, I came off the zineryt and went on erythromycin tables (they’re like zineryt tablets), along with a peroxide gel. My face has definitely started to clear up (although not my back). I thought the doctor at the hospital might say as they’ve improved a bit they should leave it for a few months before going on the roaccutane. I had photos to show her how bad it was. She didn’t need to see them. She could see my records. It had been going on long enough.

I knew roaccutane was serious sh*t. I just didn’t know how serious.

It can only be prescribed by a dermatologist at the hospital and you are closely monitored for the duration (could be four months, could be 14). You start off by having a fasting blood test before they will let you have it (I HATE fasting blood tests). You will have another fasting blood test four weeks later.

Oh, and you really, really can’t get pregnant. The effects on an unborn baby would be so serious that you have to have two forms of contraception AND a pregnancy test at the hospital every month. A pregnancy would have to be terminated, no question.

I have to come off my other acne medicine immediately and stop taking vitamins immediately.

Roaccutane has been linked to depression and suicidal thoughts. At any sign of depression (which is likely to be spotted by my husband or mum rather than me), I am to get in touch with both the hospital and GP, even out of hours.

There’s a possibility of bad headaches and worsening of my IBS. Again, I have to get in touch with the hospital and GP straight away if this happens.

If I go to the doctor for anything else while I’m on it, I have to tell them I’m on roaccutane.

I’ve recently started epilating, because waxing had become a faff (finding time for an appointment, the cost, the driving, the regrowth…). I won’t be able to epilate while on roaccutane. Oh, and I won’t be able to wax either. The skin gets so delicate it could literally be pulled off.

I will almost certainly get some muscular aches. Will that stop me running? Will it stop me doing the half marathon I’ve signed up for in September?

I felt drained and emotional when I left the hospital. It’s a lot of information to take on board. It’s quite scary. But, despite this, I’ve decided to go for it. I feel reassured that I will be very well looked after and I know that most of the side effects are rare (although I will have extremely dry skin for sure).

At the end of it all I should have clear skin. On my face and on my back. No more unsightly, painful spots. If that works, all the side effects should be worth it.

Acne, selfie, Roaccutane, Skin, Roaccutane (serious sh*t)

Yeah, I know I don’t look TOO bad, that’s because the acne had improved briefly.

Author: Sarah Mummy

Share This Post On

50 Comments

  1. That sounds like a serious drug. I hope it has a long lasting effect to justify everything else.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, I think the effects are supposed to be permanent.

      Post a Reply
  2. Oh gosh that’s quite a strong drug but we will all be here supporting you too and hopefully it will do wonders for your skin and help a lot in the long term too.

    Post a Reply
    • What a lovely things to say, really appreciate that.

      Post a Reply
  3. Hi there – I had terrible acne as a teenager, but just before starting uni my GP dad swung me an appointment with a dermatologist who prescribed me roaccutane. I remember being freaked out by the side effects too, but I was desperate to be rid of the spots for good!

    I was on it only for about 2 months over the summer holidays. It worked so fast – a miracle cure! I started uni that October completely acne-free, and best of all it never came back! The main side effect I had was seriously dry and chapped lips, so do invest in a good lip balm…

    Good luck! Hope it works just as well for you!
    #PoCoLo

    Post a Reply
    • That’s so reassuring, thanks, Kat! I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will work as well for me as it did for you. I’ll get the lip balm at the ready.

      Post a Reply
  4. The side effects do sound horrible but like you say, if it works then it could well be worth it. Hopefully you won’t get any side effects at all! 😀 x

    Post a Reply
    • That’s what I’m hoping! Thanks very much. x

      Post a Reply
  5. Best of luck Sarah! Really hope you get the miracle results Kat did #PoCoLo

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, I’m very excited to hear it worked so well for Kat 🙂

      Post a Reply
  6. I used to have bad acne too that we almost got prescription for this. The effects are just too scary that my mother backed out then. I went to this Dermatologist in Manila, Philippines. Luckily after so many years of struggling with acne (& its social effect) it went away. I still have some attacks now and I cant get the meds that I need as the derma formulated it and I can only get it from Manila. This is giving me such low self esteem. I have so many now on my chin and forehead. And I need so many things to talk to a Doctor but I have this .. I dont like to go to doctors here.

    I wish this will work for you. So many things that you have to sacrifice just so you can take this meds. But when it works I know you will feel magical. Goodluck =) #pocolo

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, Merlinda. Sorry to hear you’ve struggled with acne too and you don’t feel comfortable going to the doctor here. They might be able to help you.

      Post a Reply
  7. All of this does sound very serious but I think that hospitals and doctors are trained to tell everyone the complete worst case scenario – horror stories and all. Try it and see if it works for you. I guess you will never know unless you give it a go. AS you say, after 30 years it’s time.

    Post a Reply
    • I think the horror stories are far more commonplace with this than with most other treatments, but hopefully it won’t be too tough. The sooner I get on with it the better I think!

      Post a Reply
  8. This sounds like serious stuff, Sarah, but if it worked for you like it did for Kat, that would be amazing. Good luck – I hope it goes well and you feel ok. See you in a week – hooray!x

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much. See you next week – can’t wait! x

      Post a Reply
  9. I really hope this works for you, I have never really suffered with acne and can’t imagine how it must feel to have had it for so long I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you #PoCoLo

    Post a Reply
  10. I do understand how it feels to be affected by something which is ‘unsightly’ if you like. I know it can get you down. My issue is psoriasis, which I managed to get rid of with light treatment, but it seems to be making a come-back. I have just bought a medical grade lamp for home use, and I am hoping it works, as I know I would not get treatment at this stage. I hope yours works for you! #pocolo

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, I hope it works for you!

      Post a Reply
  11. Wowsers, that is some list of concerns isn’t it! I hope you have no problems with them and that it really helps with the acne xx

    Post a Reply
    • It certainly is! Thanks very much 🙂 x

      Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much. x

      Post a Reply
  12. Doesn’t sound ridiculous – I’m 41 and have had acne since I was 13. I’ve tried everything and have been on Roaccutane twice. Be careful with it though, it’s linked to suicidal ideation, it can really make you feel depressed. It also dries out all the mucous membranes so lips, nose, eyes etc get v sore and can be prone to skin infection. Sadly it only gave me temporary benefit each time, the only improvement was hitting the menopause early – best skin for 30 years!!!!

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks, Kate. It’s the depression which worries me most. If I find myself going that way I would come straight off it. I suspected that the only way I was going to get over it would be the menopause.

      Post a Reply
  13. Should have said my eldest son has Duac cream which is fab – except he’s become allergic to it. Was great whilst it lasted though!!

    Post a Reply
    • I have used Duac, but it didn’t make much difference – it was one of those many treatments that made it better at first and then it got worse again. Sorry to hear your son is now allergic to it.

      Post a Reply
  14. Oh, Sarah. That does sound serious, but if it gets the results that you so desperately want, then it is worth it. Wishing you lots and lots of luck xx #PoCoLo

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, Sara x

      Post a Reply
  15. Really hope it pays off, but it sounds from other people’s stories like it really is a miracle drug. I have been waiting for spots to stop being a part of my life since I hit 20 but their teenage-plague-status appears to be a lie.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much. It certainly is a lie that it’s all about the teenagers, unfortunately.

      Post a Reply
  16. Sounds scary but I totally understand your desperation for a lasting solution. Acne really affects you on a mental level and knocks your confidence.
    I always had menstrual spots but it wasn’t till I had a mirena coil fitted five years ago that I got persistent acne that wouldn’t and hasn’t ever gone. It’s sole destroying to wake up to such bad skin. I couldn’t even look people in the eye and wouldn’t let hubby go near me. Took the coil out after a year but the acne remained. Spent a fortune on creams and treatments and finally got Duac cream from doctor. It worked enough so they weren’t so sore but if I stopped using it the spots came back. I couldn’t use it while pregnant and it was horrible having acne on my face and now body. I have to wear makeup to cover them, it makes no difference to them so I do try to cover them. I remember when Abi died my skin flared right up with the stress. I phoned the doctor and begged for a quick prescription for antibiotics to help my skin… he was quite surprised I asked for this not Valium I think! But I couldn’t bear the thought of having bad skin at her funeral I wanted to do her proud (we’re talking massive painful pus filled lightbulbs not pimples).
    I do hope it works and really glad they are finally taking it more seriously. Will be interested to see how it goes and pray for minimal side effects. Xxx

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, so sorry to hear you’ve suffered so badly with it. In a way I’m lucky that it doesn’t get me down or knock my confidence but I still want to get shot of them! They can be painful and I feel like throughout the years when I should have been looking my best ie the years which are long gone, my looks were hidden under spots. I’ll never get my youth back, but would be nice to get shot of the spots once and for all. I’d forgotten about Duac. I’ve used that a couple of times. It worked well for a few months and then stopped working, like everything else. x

      Post a Reply
  17. As a fellow sufferer of acne, I can totally sympathise. I had my allowance of Roaccutane when I was a student – unfortunately it wasn’t a miracle cure for me but I think that was down to the way in which the dosages were allocated at the time. I recognise all of the treatments you refer to in your post; what’s working for me now is a combination of dermatologist prescribed topical lotions. Long may that continue!
    I wish you the very best of luck with Roaccutane – as others have said it is very drying but if you stock up wisely beforehand, there are ways of coping with that.
    All the very best. Clare #PoCoLo

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, Clare. So sorry Roaccutane didn’t work out for you, but glad to hear you are managing your acne OK now. Apparently the total dosage is worked out very carefully based on your bodyweight – and you could have it all in higher doses over four months or lower doses over 12 months or more. I’m going to be given the lower dose, which is obviously the safest way to start.

      Post a Reply
  18. That really does sound like some serious stuff but if it works and you don’t get any of the side effects then it will be worth it. I really hope that it works.

    Post a Reply
  19. My friend went on this about 9 years ago and ever since then she has had THE most beautiful, clearest skin ever. It was really hard at the time for her but she said she never regrets it. I’m on Erythomycin for my Rosacea which helps but doesn’t clear it completely. Good luck with it, I really hope this sorts it once and for all x

    Post a Reply
    • That’s really reassuring! Thanks very much. x

      Post a Reply
  20. Oh Sarah, I really feel for you. A very honest post; hope it works and you don’t get any of the nasty side effects because you really don’t deserve to after putting up with it for so long. Good luck hun x

    Post a Reply
  21. Crikey, you have had it rough, Sarah! Poor you. But what a woman of courage and determination its made of you (i hope you don’t mind me saying) as that is what I see. This is a big step going on this drug. And that’s a brave step in itself. Thanks for the honest post. This is what blogging is about (that and the funny crazy things our kids say!). I so hope you don’t have to be on this drug for too long….bless you Sarah. Sx

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, what a lovely comment. You’re right, blogging is about being honest and open about the tough things, as well as sharing the funny things. x

      Post a Reply
  22. It’s hardly surprising that you are fed up with all of this after so long. Fingers crossed that this is your miracle cure and the side effects are minimal x

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, Izzie. x

      Post a Reply
  23. Wow! That sounds like a REALLY serious drug. I remember using the peroxide gel for my back when I was in my late teens. I still get spots now but I consider myself lucky compared to this. I hope it all goes smoothly for you and resolves things really soon. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, Victoria. Bet it wasn’t easy getting the peroxide gel on your back! My back is really bad, but I don’t worry about it too much as it’s not visible, it’s only a problem when it gets painful.

      Post a Reply
  24. It really does sound like you are at the end of your tether and willing to try anything! I hope it works for you with minimal side effects.
    I have hereditary high cholesterol and had to be off my statins for 3 months before I could try for a baby due to it causing birth defects, I dread to think what this medication would do if you need to be so careful and have a monthly pregnancy test! Good Luck x #PoCoLo

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, Katie. I think I’m happy not knowing what it could do as it sounds pretty scary!

      Post a Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Project 365: Week 24 - Mum of Three World - […] selfies, but this one has meaning. This was the day I finally got confirmation I was going to go…
  2. Starting the Roaccutane journey - Mum of Three World - […] from sunlight at all times. The doctor didn’t tell me this when she initially listed all the possible side…
  3. Treating adult acne with Sk:n Clinics - Mum of Three World - […] age of 40. After being on various different forms of medication since I was 16, I recently took the…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: