If you feel like you’ve been struggling with acne for a while and nothing has worked so far, then chances are in your search for a solution you’ve stumbled across Accutane.
Whether you’ve already been prescribed accutane or simply thinking about it, by all accounts it seems to be ‘the’ miracle drug to cure all your acne woes. But first, what is Accutane? What are the dos and don’ts about using accutane? And why is your skincare routine so important while on Accutane?
What is Accutane?
Accutane is what you turn to when absolutely nothing else worked to help clear up your acne. When everything else failed. And this is usually why it’s suggested only after other acne medications, antibiotics, and treatments haven’t worked.
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 (over the counter).
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’re 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 hasn’t responded to topical treatments (medications that go on the surface of your skin), oral treatments, or changes in your diet or lifestyle.
It works by curbing how much oil your body makes. 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 wack.
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, lives to feed on this excess oil. So by severely limiting how much oil your body makes Accutane starves the acne bacteria to death.
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.
Possible short term side effects:
- 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.
Before undergoing any treatment it’s always a good idea to understand the risks. And even though accutane works well for most people without any long term side effects you should still take them into consideration.
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 it is! it shouldn’t be your first option but it’s definitely worthwhile if everything you’ve tried so far has failed.
With a 95% success rate Accutane doesn’t just get rid of acne, it gives you your confidence back so you love the skin you’re in.
The best skincare to use while on Accutane
While on 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 super simple.
Cleansers to use while on Accutane
Cleansing helps remove buildup and pollutants that that accumulate on your skin throughout the day. It’s an an important part of your skincare routine.
When on accutane your cleanser can make it break your skin. Choose one that’s mild, non-medicated, alcohol and fragrance and free. You should also avoid cleansers with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide because they can dry out your skin and make it even more prone to irritation.
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
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 .
Moisturizers to use while on Accutane
Making sure your skin gets adequate hydration is important but it’s even more so when on Accutane. Chances are your skin will get extremely dry and sensitive so you’ll need to keep it moisturized now more than ever. Choose a moisturizer that’s fragrance and alcohol free with a minimal amount of chemicals.
CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion
The CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion is lightweight and that provides all-day hydration. All while helping to strengthen and restore your skin barrier to prevent dehydration and provide the ultimate comfort for your skin.
Sunscreens to use while on Accutane
It’s very important that you wear sunscreen every day if your on accutane. Isotretinoin increases your skin’s sensitivity to the sun so you want to avoid direct unprotected sun exposure to reduce the risk of burning and pigmentation.
Paula’s Choice Resist Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF50
Paula’s Choice is free from artificial fragrances and colors, and non-irritating. All things you need when on Accutane. The Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50 sun protection has fortified antioxidants and is fast-absorbing.
Lip balms to use while on Accutane
Lots of people suffer from dry lips while on Accutane. And having a lip balm to use whenever your lips get dry can help.
NUXE Baume Levres Reve De Miel Ho
Repairing and ultra-nourishing, this balm glides on to your lips like a dream and makes your lips feel instantly soothed and moisturized.
Ultrasun Ultralip SPF 30
Ultrasun Ultralip SPF 30 lip balm will work hard to protect your delicate lips from the sun and its UV rays. We don’t often think about lip care but during accutane treatment it’s especially important.
Things you shouldn’t do while on Accutane
Things to avoid while on Accutane
You shouldnt exfoliate while you’re on Accutane.Because isotretinoin already helps cellular turnover, which means that extra exfoliation is not needed. Besides this, it can be harmful to your sensitive skin because it can irritate it and make it sore.
Waxing and laser hair removal is also a no no while on accutane. Your becomes thinner and more sensitive while undergoing treatment and waxing can pull on your skin and potentially cause damage.
Lasers can also cause damage by burning your skin and leaving unwanted spots and areas of pigmentation.
Don’t pick your nose
You shouldn’t pick your nose period. But while on Accutane you really shouldn’t. That’s because your skin is so dry and sensitive you run the risk of irritating your skin and causing 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
Once on accutane your skin will need a lot of tender care. Taking care of your skin will be even more important to so you want your skin to have the best skincare routine. our to help it heal. Accutane isn’t pleasant, but the results are well worth it.