What It's Really Like To Go On Roaccutane
From someone who’s been prescribed it for their acne.
If you’ve ever suffered from acne, you might’ve heard of Roaccutane. It’s a prescription drug that can pretty much cure problem skin – but it comes at a cost. Roaccutane is extremely harsh on the skin and comes with a lot of side effects.
MTV tracked down someone who’s been prescribed and finished a course of the drug, to see what it’s really like…
What was your skin like before going on roaccutane?
I had always had pretty normal teenage skin… the occasional spotty, greasy t-section but never acne. But then in my early twenties I moved to London and my skin got progressively worse. Before taking Roaccutane, my skin was covered in small white heads (mainly on my chin and cheeks) and then some much deeper, painful spots around my jaw line and on my back too.
At what point did you decide to see your Doctor?
I had been visiting the doctor on and off for a couple of years, using low dose antibiotics and medicated creams but I felt like I had exhausted all options. I didn’t want to use contraception as a way of fixing my skin as I felt like it was a quick fix and when I came off them my skin might return to how it had been before, which was then when we spoke about roaccutane.
You can’t get Roaccutane straight away from the GP, you have to be referred to a dermatologist so it can be quite a lengthy process. Once you have your initial consultation with the dermatologist they then assess your skin fully. They also wont recommend Roaccutane straight away unless they think it is necessary.
They then do blood tests / pregnancy tests (as you can’t take it if you are pregnant) etc, and you then discuss options and decide what is best for you. You also don't have to make a decision there and then - I went away and thought about it before making a decision.
In the first few weeks, how did you feel after starting roaccutane?
I felt pretty rubbish to be honest. I felt like my head was full and had really bad headaches. I think while your body adjusts to the changes you don't feel great. I also felt quite sick and had an upset stomach so they lowered my dosage and I built it up slowly over a week or two.
Did you have any other side effects?
There are lots of side effects tbh. I suffered the most with dry skin and dry lips. Your lips literally peel off. I had really weird dry patches that would appear on my skin and were a nightmare to get rid of. It also makes your skin very red and sore. PLUS it dries out your hair - but to be honest I’m not complaining about that as I only had to wash my hair once a week!
It also makes your skin really sensitive to the sun – so you need to wear a factor 50+ whilst on it and try and keep out of the sun as much as possible.
Did you use any products to help with this?
Nipple balm SAVED MY LIFE! It is the only thing that worked on my lips and I used Oilatum for my body. Both worked really well.
How long was it until you started to see a difference in your skin?
It took 3-4 months to see a difference. I was on the tablets for just under 7 months and only really in the final month did I really start to notice the change.
When you came off roaccutane what happened?
Once I was off roaccutane the dryness and redness really reduced. I actually felt like my skin kept getting clearer as it settled and got used to life without Roaccutane.
I have honestly now never felt so confident about my skin, and it has genuinely changed my life. I can now wear backless tops as my shoulders are clear and I will happily gym and go to the shops without makeup. I no longer feel like I need to hide.
I wash my face with Cetaphil and do still use nipple balm on my lips! It has made me really conscious about using sun protection too, so I also wear factor 30 suncream on my face every day.
- Interview by Chloe Burcham.
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