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Hi everyone!

Some of you may remember I used to post here about 9 momths ago... Well, the antibiotic treatments the dermatologist put me on for 6 mths didn't work, and at the age of 28 I'm at the end of my tether - so I'm starting Accuatane. And I've decided to keep a diary on this bulletin board as a way to provide info to others who are thinking of trying it, and to help myself get through this experience.

First, I will explain my background. I'm a 28yo woman living in Australia. I have had acne since I was about 14yo - it was mild to begin with, but got steadily worse as I grew older. By 18yo it was creeping down my chest and onto my back to my horror. I went to a doctor when I was 19 (I actually went to a GP when I was about 16yo but the doctor treated me like an idiot and refused to give me a referral to a dermatologist - w**ker - as we say here in Oz!). Anyway, the doc I saw at 19yo prescribed me the contraceptive pill, Diane35, which after a slow 6mth period started to clear me up very well indeed. By the time I turned 22yo my skin was so clear I thought it was ok to go off Diane and just get on with life acne-free.... Not to be. Sadly, after about 4mths my acne came back with a vengeance! I went back on Diane and there ensued a further 5 yrs of trying every treatment apart from Accutane, because although my skin cleared up ok on Diane the second time, it was never quite as good again. When I turned 26yo, my skin started slowly to become increasingly congested as Diane was struggling to keep me clear at all! And my chest and back started to clog up again, which is horrible living in such a hot climate and feeling uncomfortable wearing singlets etc. I went and got myself a dermatology referral (which is when I was posting here last year). I went on Minocyclene and Differin for 6mths. It helped mildly, and when I came off the acne started up again (even slightly worse I reckon, as people here have often said!) So..... I went back to my a couple of weeks ago and said I was ready to take Accutane if she agreed. She agreed. Yay!

I've done loads of research on the net about the serious side-effects of this drug, and there are definately concerns. But I believe I feel prepared to take the risk - my derm has never seen any of the serious, lasting side-effects during the course of her profession. I will monitor myself closely for depression (I'm a counsellor and am *very* familiar with the signs) and other physical side-effects that seem above and beyond the expected, accepted ones (dry lips, aching joints, mild headaches).

OK, here we go - blood tests came back ok. I have been precribed 20mg per day for the first 2 wks, and then increasing that to 40mg per day thereafter (well, until my appointment with the derm at week 7. It's a low dose over a longer period of time (probably about 5mths).

I am on day 5 just now, and I will endevour to write here about once per week. So far, so good. I have had very mild headaches each day that usually only last about an hour after breakfast (when I take my drug), and subsides after I've drunk about half a litre of water. My lips are barely chapped yet, but I'm already in the habit of applying Blistex tinted lip balm a few times per day. I've also been wearing a thicker lip balm at night when go to sleep, and keep it by the bed to reapply in the night if I wake up. I'm going to buy Cetaphil wash and moisturizer this week for all over body and face care, as it seems to be the most popular for caring for the skin of people on this drug. Also, St Ives Ultra Gentle Apricot Scrub also seems the way to go to keep the flaky, dry skin clean. I'm not sure if we have it here in Oz, but I'm sure going to try to hunt it down.

My skin has *alot* of clogged comedones, blackheads and small pimples over my chest, upper back, neck. My face at this point is ok (my derm wants me to stay on Diane the whole time, not only as a contraceptive as Accutane is a serious birth defector, but also to assist my skin the whole time). I'm not sure if this the drug, but i have noticed that some of the blackheads rising to the surface - it does seem too early in the piece for that though.

Anyway, that's it for this week... I'll write more at the end of week 2.

Kind regards,
pinky/shushu
Week 2

Well, I'm on day 14 now. And to be honest, I haven't noticed too much of anything. I think it must be because the derm started me on 20mg for the first 2 weeks, and I've only taken my first dose of 40mg today. There has been a little dryness on my face and lips, but hardly any worse than anyone else around here (it's Winter here in Oz). I have been applying my lip balm religiously all day every day (and even when I wake up in the night!!), as I'm afraid to get cracked lips (yuck). I do think that if I hadn't been doing the lip balm so well, they probably would be getting very dry by now.

I've been experiencing mild and sporadic headaches (I don't usually get headaches at all). But they usually go after about 45mins if I make sure that I drink plenty of water soon after taking the tablets.

Not much else to report. My back and chest are still very congested, and I've had one or two whiteheads emerging to the surface. It seems as though the congested pores are drying up, and so blackheads are slowly but surely increasing, but easily push through the skin. Perhaps the 20mg is a gentler way to start off the treatment??

Anyway, I'll write again next week - hopefully not a scaly, red beast after the increase to 40mg!
Week 3.

Back again.

Well, it's been the first week on the full dosage of 40mg. Not too much to report. My skin is gently drying further with a tiny bit of flaking that is easily cleaned up each day with the St Ives Ultra Gentle Apricot Scrub (that stuff is lush on 'Accutaned' skin). I haven't had any headaches this week at all. Lots of blackheads drying up and easily coming out (sometimes with a little help from me! oops). I think I'm going to miss out on a major outbreak because of the fact that Diane35 has been containing the acne moderately well for some time - thank goodness!

I noticed some slight aching of joints tonight at work (sitting at a desk) - ouch, but not too bad, just irritating.

I've been drinking loads of water, but still waking up every morning feeling very dehydrated.

Hair loss. Hmmm, got a fright during the week. After washing my hair in the shower, I noticed that I could easily pull my fingers thru my hair and drag out many more hairs than usual. Eek. Started to feel quite anxious about what could result after another 4 mths....! But then, after my hair dried completely I tested it again to find that no hairs emerged. Phew - so now I wait for my hair to be completely dry before combing it after a shower. It seems that the hair follicles are much more fragile immediately after a shower, but once they have a chance to dry it's stronger.

I've continued to be a committed lip-balm applyer, with great success - no chapped lips so far! So folks, I have hope that I may not be a red, scaly beastie when my (very cute!) friend comes to visit me in 4 weeks time....

Overall, I am noticing I have a *slightly* smoother complexion in general, and that my pores are *slowly* shrinking. I'm still hoping that it's a permanent improvement, although I'm not building my hopes up too much. In any case, I will write installments on this diary up to a few years after I finish this course of Accutane (if I remember!)

Ciao for now,
pinky/shushu
Week 4

Hi all! Well, this has been a fine week really. Very bearable. My skin on my face is just slightly over-dry, but is easily maintained with plenty of moisturizing (using Cetaphil and carry Aloe-vera in a tube wherever I go to keep it smooth). I've had no oil production all week, which is weird.

Basically, my face is great! No pimples as such, just a few remaining blackheads or comedones.

My chest and back are just beginning to show some slight improvements now. Hopefully it will begin to clear up nicely in the upcoming couple of weeks. There aren't any pustules, just heaps of comedones and blackheads. I'm waiting for that smoother skin to surface.... I can't wait to wear singlets again!

My lips are still being managed well by constant application of lip-balm (I'm using a good thick one called Hamilton). I can't really wear lipstick as such because it seems to be a little too dry, even if I put it on over the top ofthe lip balm. That's fine with me, my lips have a little more colour than usual because they're a bit dry (but not scaly or chapped), so it looks like lipstick a bit anyway!

I've bought shampoo and conditioner for dry hair for the first time in my life, ad I've been using hot oil treatments and other deep-conditioning treatments to try to keep my usually silky hair in good condition. It's time for my colour again,but instead of buying a harsh permanent colour, I've bought a semi-permanent with no ammonia or peroxide (it's a rich brown colour but the permanents still use peroxide in them), so I'll let you know how it went on my scalp and hair next week... I've only had to wash my hair about every 3/4 days!!! Amazing....

Little muscle/joint pain. I have been getting slightly more tired than usual but nothing overwhelming.

If I forget to drink water for a couple of hours I am prone to mild headaches, so I usually keep up with that.

I am aware of the night vision effect, indeed I'm *very* well informed of all possible side-effects. Nothing of that nature yet. Sorry to hear about your experience Jeepers, however I know people who took Accutane several years ago and their acne Never returned (over 10 yrs later), so for some it works that way and for others not - impossible to say for certain really. My fingers (and toes) are still crossed....

My biggest thing is waiting for my torso to be clear then I will really have a smile on my face

See you in a week!

pinky/shushu
Week 5

G'day everyone - back again.

Everything is going great. The blackheads are starting to disappear (at last), and the skin is continuing to get smoother. I have had no nosebleeds, no more hair falling out, no backpain and no chapped lips - but that is because I never forget to put lip balm on. My skin hasn't been very red or over-dry as I've been moisturizing well. Just a few flaky bits here and there at the end of the day which are easily washed off.

I had my second blood test for my first derm appointment next week since starting the drug.

I dyed my hair with a semi-permanent colour (no ammonia or peroxide) without any hassle whatsoever!

I've been avoiding too much sun.

Basically all is going great! I have had a couple of large pimples on my face which are taking ages to heal, but nothing too horrendous.

See you all next week!

Kind regards,
Pinky
Week 9

hello! wow, didn't the last 3 weeks go fast?!

well, the latest on my skin is that all is continuing to go well. My chest and back and finally clear (except for two healing blemishes). I don't have any more blocked pores - yay!!!!!!

Warning: I went out last week and had 6 alcoholic beverages, and i woke up with only a mild hangover, which is fine, but i also developed a small rash on the top of my hands, and the underside of my upper arm. With lots of good moisturizer and lots of water, they healed up in about a week.

I'm only washing my hair about every 3 days (weird!), and that's so i can put more moisture into it - i'm using intensive conditioning packs in place of my normal conditioner.

Rubberduck: I'm not red, not scaly! i have fair skin, blonde hair (naturally), but i wouldn't describe my skin as thin - it is kind of thick, actually. i think the treatment may be gentler on my skin because i'm on a low dose of 40mg, as i've mentioned before (i'm tall with a body weight of about 70/75 kg - not sure what that is pounds, you american folk!?). it means i'm taking a half dose to what others take. and i've decided not to up the dose at any stage to 60mg after talking with an another australian woman who was on a similar program then developed severe depression after the dose was upped just a bit.

TSB: Sorry about the stuff-up/confusion about your skin - how annoying that must be for you! I'm definately staying on Diane till I'm ready to have kids. It really should be even more effective after this treatment of Accutane (hopefully) - not perfect, but with the help of other topicals, the hope is that the acne will be manageable. Fingers crossed - it really is an unguessable outcome as accutane has a unique outcome for everyone. i hope i don't even have to contemplate taking another course of accutane - it's such a pain in the arse (re: alcohol consumption, contraceptive concerns, lip balm application). ok, ok, it's not that bad (for me).

FEDUP: hey, how's it going for you? No, my friend won't arrive yet for another 2 wks (delays!), but i'm confident of feeling "lovely" when he does! isn't that great?! woohoo!

i have some stiffness after exercise, but that could just be because i hardly ever exercise and am very unfit just now

talk to you in another couple of weeks!

ps. i'm going to have to be ultra careful when i go the beach for 2 wks next month!!! Nooooo redness - pffft!
oh my goodness - was that two months since i last wrote?? what a lazy girl i am!

well, i am up to week 18.5.

apart from often forgetting to take both pills each day in the past 4 weeks (oops!), all is going well. My skin is dry but rarely gets over-dry (it's manageable with moisturizing occasionally). i need my lip balm every 20mins or so, but that's fine.

drinking beer has been ok, but i have learnt the hard way to keep away from spirits (boy, was i ill in the middle of the night, very unlike me normally!)

i probably have about 4/5 wks to go, which is when i'm seeing the derm again - that will make it 5.5 mths in total.

my skin is terrifically clear - it's wonderful. My chest and back were my biggest concerns, and they're all clear and have been for ages now. lovely.

i've decided that if my acne returns i would be willing to try a second course, but again, on the low dosage of 40mgs/day over a long stretch. hopefully it won't though.... fingers crossed.

i'll keep you posted.





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