If you’ve been struggling with acne for a while and none of the treatments you’ve tried have worked so far, then chances are that in your search for the perfect solution to your skin condition, you may have come across Accutane.
While this is a course of treatment that is an effective way of combating severe acne, it carries some potentially serious side effects. This may include changes in skin colour and the likelihood of developing scarring.
A great skincare routine is essential for clear skin. And it’s especially important because of the side effects of Accutane treatment. It might seem like a lot of work at first, but your skin will thank you in the long run.
What is Accutane?
Accutane is usually the last resort for people who have severe acne that hasn’t responded to other acne medications, antibiotics, and treatments.
Accutane is the name of the drug. The ingredient that really does all the heavy lifting and makes the drug work is isotretinoin (the strongest form of vitamin A). And for this reason, it’s by prescription only. You won’t be able to buy this OTC.
Before starting Accutane, your dermatologist will likely ask you questions about your medical history and have you do blood tests to check your liver function and rule out hormonal imbalances.
You might be asked if you have a history of heart disease, osteoporosis, intestinal disorders, or diabetes, to name a few.
If you’re approved to start, you’ll be prescribed a low dosage (based on your weight, medical condition, etc) to start, usually starting from 0.5mg to 2mg for 15-20 weeks. But this can sometimes last as long as 10 months.
What does Accutane do and how does it work?
Accutane is used to treat severe acne that has not responded to topical treatments (medications that go on the surface of the skin), oral treatments, or changes in your diet or lifestyle. It works by curbing how much oil your body makes and also helps your skin renew itself more quickly
In fact, it can reduce the oil in your sebaceous glands by up to 80%. That’s a lot! And this is why it’s a last resort. Your sebaceous glands work to produce oil to help hydrate and moisturize your skin so it can stay soft and smooth.
But when you have acne, this delicate balance is thrown out of whack. So the sebum made by the glands gets trapped under the skin, which leads to clogged pores, pimples, blackheads or whiteheads.
Your glands go into overdrive and produce way more oil than your skin needs. That extra oil gets trapped in your pores, mix with dead skin cells and ends up clogging your pores creating the perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria.
The bacteria that causes acne love to thrive on this excess oil. So by limiting how much oil your body produces, Accutane starves the acne bacteria of an essential nutrient, thereby killing it.
What Are The Side Effects of Accutane?
Accutane can work well to clear up acne but not without doing some damage to your skin first. It will be worth it in the end, but you should know that it may lead to:
- Severe dryness (skin, lips, mouth, scalp etc.)
- Your skin will become super sensitive to the sun (you will absolutely need sunscreen)
- Your skin will most likely get worse before it starts getting better
Remember these short-term side effects are only temporary and will get better with a bit of time. So stick with it.
It’s always a good idea to educate yourself on the risks of any treatment before you undergo them, and although Accutane is known to work well for the majority of people without any long-term side effects, it’s still important that you take this into account when considering whether or not you want to be put on it.
Possible long term side effects:
- Abnormal bone growth
- Birth defects ( women are asked to take birth control to avoid getting pregnant while using Accutane)
- Depression and mood swings
- Dry eyes ( which makes it unsuitable for contact lens wearers who are advisable to switch to wearing glasses while on Accutane )
- Joint pain
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Is Accutane worth it?
Yes, Accutane is worth it! It should be your last resort, but if you have tried everything else it should be your next choice. With a 95% success rate, Accutane not only gets rid of acne but gives you back the confidence you need to love your skin!
The best affordable skincare products to use while on Accutane
While using Accutane, your skin will get extremely dry and sensitive. To lessen irritation you’ll want to keep your skincare routine as simple as possible. Use the mildest products and only use what you need to.
All you really need to do at this point is cleanse, moisturize, and use sunscreen in the mornings. Then cleanse and moisturize at night. Keep it simple.
Cleansing is an important part of any effective skincare routine and to see the best possible results, it’s important to find a cleanser that is going to be gentle on your skin but also going to be effective at removing build-up and pollutants.
When you are taking Accutane, this becomes even more important because your skin will need all of the help that it can get against the breakout causing properties of the medication
Choose a gentle cleanser that is likely to be non-medicated and alcohol-free to ensure that you maintain a healthy, radiant complexion. You would also want to avoid cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide due to these ingredients being known irritants.
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
The CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser hydrates as it gently washes away dirt, pollutants, and impurities without drying out your skin. Enriched with hyaluronic acid and free from soaps and fragrance, it helps strengthen and restore your skin’s natural barrier function for long-lasting hydration.
It also includes ceramides, which help mimic natural lipids to heal dry skin, while niacinamide helps reduce the appearance of skin imperfections.
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
The Ordinary’s Squalane Cleanser is carefully formulated to cleanse and soothe dry skins while simultaneously moisturizing with a combination of hydrating squalane and other lipophilic esters.
It also contains a gentle, plant-derived cleansing agent, sunflower seed oil, to dissolve makeup and other impurities without stripping the skin’s natural protective oils.
Making sure your skin gets adequate hydration is important but it’s even more so when on Accutane. There is an increased chance that your skin will become very dry and sensitive in the coming months so you must keep it moisturized now more than ever. Choose a moisturizer that is fragrance-free, alcohol-free, and has minimal chemicals in it.
CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion
The CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion is an A-list solution for dry skin, providing all-day hydration and comfort. It’s specially formulated to strengthen and restore the skin barrier, preventing dehydration while keeping your skin feeling healthy and refreshed.
It’s of utmost importance that you wear sunscreen every day if you are on Accutane. Isotretinoin makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, so you want to avoid direct unprotected sun exposure to reduce the risk of getting burnt and developing melasma.
Paula’s Choice Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF50
Paula’s Choice is free from artificial fragrances and colours, and non-irritating. All things you need when on Accutane.
The Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50 sun protection is fortified with powerful antioxidants and absorbs quickly to help prevent signs of ageing caused by everyday sun damage.
Lots of people suffer from dry lips while taking Accutane. Having a lip balm on hand to use whenever you need it can help relieve the symptom and keep your lips from getting worse.
NUXE Baume Levres Reve De Miel Lip Moisturizing Stick
Repairing and ultra-nourishing, this lip moisturizing stick glides onto your lips like a dream and soothes even the most sensitive of skin right away. It’s infused with nourishing oils to hydrate for hours, making your lips feel instantly more supple and healthy.
While on Accutane avoid
- Exfoliating: you shouldn’t exfoliate while you’re on Accutane. As isotretinoin already helps with cellular turnover, meaning that extra exfoliation is not needed. Besides this, it can be harmful to your sensitive skin because it can irritate it and make your skin sore.
- Waxing: You would be wise to avoid waxing or laser hair removal while using Accutane because it may lead to skin irritation and redness. Lasers can also cause damage by burning your skin and leaving unwanted spots and areas of pigmentation.
- Picking your nose: you should avoid picking your nose while using Accutane, as it may lead to nosebleeds. Instead use Vaseline or some other unscented ointment to help soothe any irritation so you can keep your fingers away from your nose.
Accutane works for most people who choose to use it to help clear up their acne. However, it should always be a last-resort treatment.
Accutane is an effective acne treatment and can be safely used if you want it to be your last resort. However, it should always be a last resort, as it can cause many side effects including skin dryness, increased sun sensitivity, and decreased ability to sweat.
While using Accutane, taking care of your skin will be even more important so you want your skin to have the best skincare routine. Accutane isn’t pleasant, but the results are well worth it.