Hello my lovelies! I'd love to take a little time and tell you about my skin. In my mid/late teenage years I really struggled with acne-ridden skin. This, coupled with being a bit overweight, meant that I also struggled with self-confidence. I didn't like my appearance at all if I'm being totally honest. I tried to over compensate by being the funny friend, or the trustworthy one who always ended up stuck in the middle of arguments! It wasn't until I was about to begin my first year at Uni that Mum and I sought out proper treatment for my acne.
After trying several topical creams and ointments (with no improvement) I was prescribed the drug Roaccutane. You can read a little info about it here. I was completely trusting of my doctor and was desperate to try anything. Just googling 'Roaccutane' you'll find a plethora of information, cautions, horror stories and miracle transformations. Thankfully, it did work for me - for my skin. What it didn't work for, was my mind...
Looking back, had I known what I'd go through whilst taking this stuff ... I'm not sure I would use it again. It's a tough one though - the noticeable improvement in my skin gave me a boost in confidence, yet, ironically, my mental health took a beating. I became insanely jealous, overly sensitive, more moody (if that was even possible!) and felt extremely low at times. Hindsight is a wonderful thing ... it's only now I can truly see the potentially devastating side-effects the drug was having on me. I honestly don't know how Matt (my then boyfriend, now husband) stayed with me. I was unbearable at times. Totally and completely unbearable. My mood swings were off the scale and I acted like a maniac - that's putting it lightly. I was irrational and paranoid, over the most stupid things. I didn't like the person who I became while taking Roaccutane - actually, I don't even recognise her! Matt must have known he was in it for the long haul, enduring such ludicrous behaviours from me! I actually threw stuff out the window of our uni halls of residence at him (3 floors below) because I was having a 'moment'!
I asked a few lovely Instagram friends if they would share their experiences with the drug and I was overwhelmed by the response! So many of you have used it and thankfully found pleasing results! You can read some snippets of their experiences below:
"While I was on Roaccutane, it was the only thing that cleared my skin. However, it caused major problems with my eye ducts - I had to put hot compresses on my eyes, morning and night. Thankfully, my skin stayed acne-free for about 6 months afterwards, but, eventually I had just as bad acne as before. I also remember feeling down and pretty apathetic about life but thankfully had folk looking out for me. My brother suffered with awful acne right up until last year when, aged 30, he took Roaccutane and it really did the trick for him!" - Zoe, @zoephenix
"I'm a pharmacist and counsel on Roaccutane - the patients I see have massive improvements in their skin, but can find it really dries out their skin and can make them feel nauseous, especially at higher doses. You 100% can't get pregnant on it and have to take a test every month - so if you were thinking of a baby then definitely hold off! Also, your skin is sensitive to sun, even in winter, so summers/holidays could be hard, especially for sun worshippers! You have to wear SPF all the time and we generally advise against heavily perfumed products for the skin." - Emma, @emma.wright_
"I was on Roaccutane during my GCSEs. It's a tough drug and I dislike how it's projected as a 'miracle cure' for acne. My doctors never took my acne seriously from age 12 which led to a lot of scarring because I was put on Roaccutane too late. Unfortunately, I've found that GPs don't take dermatology seriously. Even after taking the drug, I had x6 laser procedures!" - Charlotte, @5ft_small
"I haven't used it myself but wish I'd known about it in my late 20s as I've been left with some scarring from hormonal acne. My 3 cousins have all used it and despite being tough going (ie. peeling, sore lips etc) the results are pretty fabulous - they all now have the most beautiful skin." - Kathy, @yellowbirdjewels
"I got quite a quick referral to the dermatologist and was put on Roaccutane within the month. I didn't really have any of the negative side-effects, In fact, a bonus side-effect for me was that there was literally no moisture coming out of my pores, so my hair was never greasy! My one concern was the potential effects on my mental health, but whilst taking the drug, I didn't really notice anything. It's only now I realise that it was the mandatory pill - that you have to take alongside Roaccutane - that was having more of a negative impact on my mental health. I felt I was forced to take it - even though there was no chance of me getting pregnant - and now I wonder about how much the pill messed up my hormones." - KT, @lonecrayon
"I had a 6 month course of Roaccutane when I was 18 and it literally transformed my skin! I had been back and forth to the doctors, tried medication, steaming my face, a Clinique skin consultation, I even slathered my face in yoghurt and honey for months! Nothing worked until I was put on Roaccutane. My mother had to really push for it as the doctors were really reluctant and kept listing all the side-effects. She was adamant and I had it on a monthly basis. We noticed a huge difference in a week and it was the happiest I'd been in years. My skin gradually got less and less angry looking and eventually the spots cleared completely with no scarring. At 30 now I still get the odd breakout, but nothing compared to what it was. We were really cautious of the potential for mental health problems - my mother was checking in with me everyday to make sure I was ok and luckily it didn't effect me that way." - Emma, @lookingaftermama
"I haven't used Roaccutane myself, and in many ways would love to, but my sister's experiences have put me off. Not only did they finally discover she was allergic, but she also became very paranoid. Knowing that psychiatric disturbances are a possible side-effect, I'm staying away ... for now." - Jill, @mulligug321
"Roaccutane was the first thing to clear up my skin! At 21 I broke out really badly - I was working as a beauty therapist at the time and was even more conscious of my skin when treating others. Honestly, it was amazing and I actually worried about stopping it, but when I did, my skin remained fine. Good experience for me!" - Kathryn, @k.a.m.d.o.n
"I used Roaccutane when I was 24 for 6 months just before I was married. Apart from extreme thirst and very dry skin, I found it to be amazing! It totally boosted my confidence and my work were very good at allowing me to go for the monthly check up at the hospital which helped." - Lyndsey, @lyndseyriddle88
"I've never used Roaccutane myself, but I work in mental health and we are always warned in training about the suicidal thoughts that people can experience when on it." - Cheryl, @ca_graham
“I was on Roaccutane when I was 17/18 and it really, really worked. I’ve had the odd flare up of bad skin, but never anything as bad as the chronic, painful acne I used to have! BUT … it had very bad side effects like super dry skin and lips, dry eyes, very dangerous if you’re planning on getting pregnant (I accidentally ended up getting pregnant when I was 18 and the docs were seriously concerned that my baby would be deformed!) Lastly, the worst side effect was the effect it had on my mental health – I was low for most of the time whilst on it. It’s a side effect quite a lot of people struggle with when they go on it. In some countries, Roaccutane is illegal as it’s so severe. My medicine friends tell me these days that docs only prescribe it in absolutely worst case scenarios. I can understand why. But, I did have perfect skin for a while after it!! We used to joke in school that you’d know if boys were on Roaccutane because they’d reluctantly always have carmex on them! Oh! And no matter what age you are, if you are taking the drug, they make sure you are on the pill alongside it too and make you do blood and pregnancy tests at monthly check ups – it’s insane!” - Rebecca, @rebeccafinlay
"I have used it twice! Great results, but sore on the body!" - Laura, @lauramcfarland_
"I went on Roaccutane when I was 18 and it was GREAT. Made a huge difference to my skin, face, back and neck. The only side-effect I noticed at the time was the dryness of my skin ... but what a huge improvement to my acne! I then got my face lasered and my skin was the best it had been in years. Fast forward 7/8 years and my face began to flare up again. The hospital gave me Roaccutane straight away and boy did I notice the side-effects this time: sore skin, hyper-sensitive to heat, dry skin, emotional, dry hair, brittle nails - I felt a yuky mess! But, it worked ... and was well worth it, for me. The positives outweighed the negatives, but then again, I wouldn't go on it again and only for the sake of my mental health." - LJ, @ljwatt
"I was on Roaccutane for about a year and a half, about 4 years ago. Previous to that, I seemed to have been on every prescribed cream / ointment / wash / tablet the doctor could give me. I had been on a couple of variations of the pill as well, but nothing seemed to work and Roaccutane was always going to be the last resort! I found it easy enough to cope with, even though there was a lot of talk of mood changes while on it!! My biggest problem was dry skin!!! So, so, so dry ... and not just my face! My whole body and particularly my lips ... I could have peeled layers off my lips every day! Even now, so many years after, I still have rather dry skin (mainly hands and lips.) But, other than that, it worked miracles on my skin! I still get the odd break out, but it's never as bad as it would have been before!" - Karen, @karen.brown.7588
Undoubtedly, Roaccutane is a strong drug and has been proven, time and time again, in making a real positive difference for those struggling with acne prone skin. I was terrified of my acne returning when I can off the drug so I stayed on the pill, right up until Matt and I were ready to try for a baby. I must have been on the pill for about 7 years and that helped to keep my acne at bay. I did notice, coming off the pill, that my acne quickly returned, staying for the duration of my pregnancy and until I'd finished breastfeeding Phoebe at 9 months post-partum. As soon as I'd finished breastfeeding, I went straight back on the pill. For 3 reasons really:
1. I was NOT taking any chances with regards to getting pregnant again. I had a terrible pregnancy and labour and was in no way ready to go through it all again!
2. I missed the 'control' I had over my body when on the pill. I loved having the choice to run through a packet and miss having a 'period' if I was going away or on holiday etc.
3. Goodbye spots!