The Accutane 411

The uncensored journal of an Accutane (Claravis) patient.

Almost finished! January 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — theaccutane411 @ 7:47 pm

It’s been a long time coming, but at least I have a few new things to share now!

 

So, a few months ago I talked my dermatologist into putting me on a higher prescription.  She bumped me up from 40 to 50 mg per day.  Since the medicine comes in 10, 20, and 40 mg pills, I was taking my regular 40 mg with an additional 10 mg pill.  Doesn’t sound like a big switch does it?  Well for the first month it was fine.  However, in the second month all the sudden my eyes were UNBEARABLY dry.  I was using hardcore nighttime eyedrops, and my eyes still felt dry and scratchy in the morning.  After a talk with my dermatologist, we decided it was best to go back to 40 mg per day.  My eyes are much happier now!

 

It might be due to the winter dryness, but I’ve had some very bloody boogies for the past month.  I have never in my entire life had a bloody nose, but all the sudden I’m seeing some red in my tissues.  (I know its gross, but you’re here for the dirty details, right?)  I’ve also had peelier lips lately.  My lips have always been very dry, but I wake up in the morning with BURNING lips, and then the skin peels completely off my lips as I’m getting ready in the morning.  I’m loading up with Aquaphor, which still proves to be my favorite lip remedy on accutane.

 

Good news to share–this is my last month on 40 mg!  In February finish up by taking my leftover 10 mg pills, and I only have 13 of those left.  It is crazy to be this close the the finish line–I only have 38 days left!  I’m very curious to see what will happen when I go off the medicine.  I hope I stay “in the clear.”  Either way, I’ll make sure to post a blog when I wrap up my treatment, and also a few months afterwards.  Hope my friends in cyberspace are doing well!

 

Day 63! August 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — theaccutane411 @ 3:42 pm
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I really need to get on here and post some pictures, but right now I’ll just give an update.

My skin is looking pretty good.  I saw my dermatologist again on Friday and she is soooo happy with how my skin is coming along.  She said I’ve responded to the medicine really quickly.  I’ve had fewer and fewer breakouts each week.  I’m still getting a few zits every now and then, but I haven’t had a SINGLE cyst in over a month!  Wooohooo!  I’m pretty dry, but Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion is still doing the trick for my body and face.  I’ve added two more products from Lush to my repertoire.  If you don’t know what Lush is, you need to know.  This stuff is all handmade, it smells fantastic, and it has ingredients in it that are so good for you that most of them are edible.  First, I’ve been using the “Oatifix” face mask about 1-2 times per week.  This mask is so fresh you have to store it in your refrigerator.  It has bananas, vanilla, and oats in it to “cleanse, soften, and moisturize dry and sensitive skin.”  And let me tell you, this stuff does the trick.  I put it on for ten minutes and all my flakies just wash away.  I LOVE the way it smells, too!  Just like warm oatmeal cookies…mmmmm!  The second product I’ve added to my daily routine is the “Lemony Flutter” cuticle butter.  It is a really thick, creamy fusion of oils and shea butter that softens my really dry elbows, knees, and feet.  Before, my feet were getting so dry they were peeling like crazy.  Now, I’ve got my peely feet under control.  I put a small gob of this butter on my feet every night, and then I put on a pair of socks.  Overnight my dry feet are transformed.  I love this stuff!

Latetly, I’ve been a study-o-holic.  I’ve been sitting at my computer, working on papers for graduate school, for about 3-12 hours per day.  My back has been pretty achy, a side-effect of Claravis, but it could be due to the fact that I’ve sat still so much.  I also have been a little more tired than my usual self.  When I was in undergrad, I could stay up all night working on homework.  Now, I HAVE to go to bed by 11:30, or I get so tired I can barely function.  I’m done with school for about a month, so I’m so excited to have a life!  I’m going to be traveling a little bit and just relaxing.  It should be nice.

Okay, I’ll try to update sometime around my next dermatologist visit to give you guys an update.  Hope everyone is well!

 

Day 23 Update! July 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — theaccutane411 @ 11:02 pm

The past 23 days have absolutely FLOWN by!  So far, treatment is going smoothly.  I’ve learned so much about the drug in the past 23 days, so hopefully I can share some helpful information.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m taking 40mg of Claravis each day with dinner.  Okay, so I’ve actually been taking it around bedtime, but I’m going to start taking it with dinner.  My dermatologist said that since it is vitamin A, it is really important to take it with food.  This insures better absorption into your bloodstream, and thus, better results.

So let’s talk side effects.  I was expecting headaches for some reason, but I really haven’t had any.  No muscle or joint pain either, and I have been working out regularly.  I remember the first week I was definitely more tired than usual.  When my alarm went off, I felt like I could stay in bed all day.  I’m much more used to the medicine now, and I don’t feel overly tired anymore.

In all the blogs, and vlogs I’ve looked at, people usually talk about how dry their skin is.  Well, for the first 7 days, I honestly didn’t notice a difference.  All of the sudden, my lips got SUPER dry right around the 7th day.  The lip dryness is strange.  It doesn’t feel like chapped lips, and it doesn’t hurt, it is more like shriveled, stretched skin.  I’ve been using Aquaphor about every half hour.  I know that sounds like overkill, but trust me…it’s not!  Aquaphor is only 40% white petroleum, so I’m lukewarm about it.  I think I’ll give Vaseline Lip Therapy a whirl here within the next couple of days because it is 100% white petroleum jelly.

For my face and body, I’ve been using Cetaphil.  I’m using the Moisturizing Lotion for my body, and the Daily Facial Moisturizer on my face.  The lotions are perfect.  I couldn’t be happier with them.  They hydrate my skin so well, I never have to reapply lotion during the day.  The lotions are also non-greasy, so they don’t make me feel nasty.

My scalp, however, is a little cranky.  Right around the one week mark, my head began itching as if I’d contracted a bad case of lice (but no lice here, thankfully).  It was flaking pretty badly too.  I ran to the store and bought some Head and Shoulders, which has soothed the problem a little.  I’m still a little itchy, but much better off than before.  If anyone out there has a dry/itching scalp solution, I could definitely use some suggestions!

I’m also trying to hydrate my body by drinking more water than usual.  I fill up my 24oz water bottle at the beginning of the day, and I usually refill at least once.  I honestly could eat a little healthier, but I am not a horrendous eater to begin with.

So, what you all want to know, what is my skin doing?  Right around the one week mark, my skin felt extremely rough.  Tons of blackheads were coming to the surface making my skin feel bumpy.  The good news is, it wasn’t that noticeable to the eye.  However, my skin wasn’t looking that pretty either.  I had visible breakouts on my face, and several colossal zits on my back.  I have to admit, I’m a pick-o-holic.  I just can’t help myself.  If I see a zit, I have to pick it.  Gross, right?  Well, on Claravis, my skin is pretty sensitive to picking.  Even the smallest picking session makes my skin peel and flake the next day.  Good news?  The breakouts are already starting to die down.  I am seeing a very noticeable improvement in my complexion already.  Hopefully the entire treatment stays like this, and there aren’t any huge breakouts to come.

Oh, and FYI: they really mean it when they tell you to stay out of the sun.  My family goes on an annual boating trip.  The first day, I used Coppertone Sensitive Skin sunscreen with SPF 50.  I was only in the sun for a couple hours, and my legs were already red.  The next day, I used a sunblock with SPF 70, and that did the trick.  I reapplied every hour or so, and I didn’t get burned.  I’m not sure if it was the minor increase in SPF, or the fact that it was sunblock instead of sunscreen that helped.  Either way, make sure to lather it on!

Overall, I’m feeling really good about the way treatment is going.  No major complaints, and already seeing some improvement!  Take care for now, I’ll update when the mood strikes.

 

Birth Control Update and Day 1! June 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — theaccutane411 @ 7:09 pm
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After much contemplation of birth control options, my husband and I have decided against the NuvaRing.  I’ve had horrible, awful, downright dreadful experiences with birth control.  The pill makes me super irritable, the patch messed with my chemistry, the shot left me with a NINE MONTH LONG period (!) and low iron levels, which resulted in anemia.  Since I’m already putting my body through a ton with the Accutane, we are going to go the abstinent route for the duration of my treatment.  Yeah, it’s going to be tough, but we think it’s really for the best.  Kind of crazy that I just shared that with the whole world, but there you go…

So today is officially day 1!  I’m excited, anxious, and nervous all at the same time.  I’m going to be taking my pills with dinner, so I just took my first pill.  Obviously, its way too soon to assess how I feel.  My biggest worry is that I’ll have an adverse reaction to the medication. I’ll be taking 40mg per day of isotretinoin.  Since Accutane is off the market, I’m  taking Claravis by Barr Laboratories. With my insurance, a thirty day prescription of Claravis cost me only $10!  I was stoked to find that out, as I’ve heard this treatment can be extremely expensive.

My dermatologist taught me more about what isotretinoin is.  As I’ve heard, Vitamin A is really great for the skin, but in large quantities it is lethal to the body.  Isotretinoin is an structurally altered form of vitamin A.  As I understand, they alter one chain of the chemical structure of vitamin A so that it will not be toxic.  This way, isotretinoin can be taken in much larger quantities still giving the benefits of the vitamin without the risk of poisoning.  I thought that was pretty cool, because so many people are extremely critical of isotretinoin, but few realize that it is essentially vitamin A.

I plan on posting updates at least once a week from here on out.  At first, I’ll probably be psychoanalyzing every little pain, headache, and dry patch, so I’ll probably be posting more often initially.  Feel free to comment with any questions, suggestions, or whatever!  Talk to you guys soon!

 

Let the waiting game begin. May 9, 2010

Filed under: Accutane Blog — theaccutane411 @ 11:00 pm
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For starters, let me just tell you I hate pap smears.  Okay, so most women don’t like them, and I know there are worse things in life.  But, really?  Do we have to put our feet in stirrups while you shine a bright light and poke around you-know-where?  Well, at least it’s over with!

On Wednesday, I spoke with my doctor about a hormonal birth control.  I told her I needed it to start Accutane treatment.  She responded with complete surprise, “Your skin is beautiful!” she told me.

“Look at my back,” I said.

After a little shuffling of the paper robe, she responded with a deep, “Hmmm,” and she shuffled over to her computer to write a prescription for the NuvaRing.

Upper "Bacne"

Sidenote: My friends, like my doctor, seem surprised that I’m going on Accutane.  I can see why.  My face, the most visible part of me, breaks out badly about once or twice a month.  Plus, let’s be honest.  After dealing with acne for the past 10+ years, I’ve become quite the pro at using concealer on my face.  My back, however, is broken out almost all the time, which people rarely see.  I get more cystic acne on my neck and back than anywhere else on my body.  I hide the breakouts by wearing my hair down almost everyday, and wearing clothes that don’t reveal my skin problems.  When I shop, I always look for “bad skin” clothes.  When I get those hideous breakouts on my chest, I usually wear shirts that come up high enough to cover my collarbones.  I can’t wait until the day when I never have to wake up and evaluate my skin before I pick out what to wear to work.

Anyway, back to the doctor’s visit…

I laughed out loud when I found out that the NuvaRing must be stored in your refrigerator until you are ready to insert it.  My husband was a little weirded out when he saw birth control in the fridge hanging out next to the leftovers. He can deal with it until I get started.  My doctor told me the ring wouldn’t be effective for at least one month.  That means I won’t be able to start Accutane until approximately the second week of June.  It sounds far away, but I’m sure it will be here before I know it.

I’ll keep you posted on how my body responds to the NuvaRing.  I’ve read some mixed reviews about it, but hopefully it works out for me!  Check back for an update sometime toward the end of the month.  For now, take care.

 

Accutane, here I come! May 2, 2010

Filed under: Accutane Blog — theaccutane411 @ 6:30 pm
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The diagnosis

In less than one week, I’ll be 26…and I still have acne. I’ve tried everything from creams to gels to pills, and nothing seems to discourage those pesky breakouts.  About a month ago, I was thinking I’ll probably just have to deal with bad skin for the rest of my life.   And then, my dermatologist suggested Accutane.

At first, I was hesitant.  I mean, my skin isn’t horrible, but I break out on my face, neck, chest, and back.  My smorgasbord of skin issues includes blackheads, white heads, and cystic acne.  If you know anything about cystic acne, you know it hurts like crazy.  Honestly, if I were still in my early 20’s, I’d probably keep trying alternative acne treatments.  But, let’s face it, I’m closer to 30 than I am to 20.  It’s time to have a clear, beautiful complexion.  So bring on the Accutane!

I’ve learned that taking this pill can be risky business.  You are required to have monthly blood tests and pregnancy tests if you are a woman.  If you are sexually active, you are required to use one form of hormonal birth control, and one backup such as condoms or spermicide.  I have an appointment with my gynecologist in two days to talk about birth control.  Last time I was on birth control, I took Yaz and it made me a very cranky lady!  This time, I think I’m going to try the NuvaRing.  I’ll keep you posted on how that works out!

I’ve already registered for iPledge–the government mandated program to prevent pregnancy while taking drugs containing isotretinoin.  According to my iPledge account, I could start treatment as soon as May 7, but since I’m not on birth control yet, I’m guessing it will be a bit longer.

The goal of this blog will be to discuss all aspects of my Accutane treatment.  Just to be clear, I have no connection to Accutane or Roche Laboratories, I’m just a patient documenting my own experience with the drug.  Hopefully this blog will be helpful to others who are on Accutane or thinking about taking Accutane.  Please feel free to comment, share thoughts, products, etc.  I look forward to hearing from you!