My Acne/Roaccutane Story

Hey Lovelies,

This is a huge, personal topic for me so prepare yourself for a very long sob story. I mentioned in my Battle of the Lip Balms - Roaccutane Edition post that I've struggled with acne for the past five years. More accurately, it started towards the end of my first year in uni way back in 2007. I don't remember anything that could have triggered it, maybe the stress from my new lifestyle or all the crap I was eating, but I don't remember ever having any skin problems before that time. 

From then on I managed to keep my skin under control using different skin care products. I remember being a huge fan of the Body Shop Tea Tree range for the longest time but after a while, no topical treatments were working. I even went on to try the more "serious" brands like Bioderma and Dermalogica to more high-end brands like Clinique but nothing kept the spots at bay. I always had at least five spots on my face. After a few years of this I decided I HAD to see a specialist. I booked an appointment the summer of 2009 with a dermatologist who took one look at me, declared I had "moderate" acne and gave me a three-month prescription of Doxycycline, an antibiotic and two topical creams- Duac and Differin. I walked away with a £350 dent in my pocket but I was elated. After being called "silly" for years it was awesome to finally have my acne taken seriously. 

Oh the joy that clear skin brings! The Doxycycline kicked in fast and I remember having the smoothest skin and the best summer of  my life in 2009. Sadly, these results didn't last. One month after I'd finished the course, my acne came back with a vengeance. And by the time I was instructed to go back on it, I guess my body had adapted to it because it didn't work and I was left in the same crappy situation. Sigh.

The feeling of having something great and losing it can be worse than never having it at all. I became obsessed at this point and decided to go to my local GP (private dermatologists are expensive!) to get a referral to one on NHS *sigh at 6-8 months waiting list* but luckily for me, my GP was a sympathetic female and she suggested Yasmin, an oral contraceptive pill that's known to be amazing for acne. So more medicine. Every day. But I didn't care. The Yasmin took about 2-3 months to kick in, and the results were not as impressive as the Doxycycline but it worked. I went from being in a state of constant breakout to the odd spot here and there.  I stayed on Yasmin for about 18 months (which you're NOT supposed to do) and developed some blood clotting issues so was quickly pulled off of that... And yep you guessed it, the acne came back again. But this time worse than ever before:



These pictures were taken about 2 months after I stopped taking Yasmin (April 2012) and hear me when I say I've NEVER had acne this bad in my life. My face was sore, it was red and extremely humiliating. Going thorough something like this especially in a place like Nigeria where everyone feels entitled to comment on your appearance was pretty much the worst thing I've ever gone through self-esteem wise. So if you're going through something similar and just want to stay in bed all day and cry, you'll get no judgement from me because I went through the exact same thing. Cue the violins please. No really.

Shortly after that I saw a dermatologist in South Africa who prescribed me with the mother of all acne drugs- Roaccutane (isotretinoin). I'm sure anyone that's suffered from acne has heard about it, it's pretty much the drug you get when everything else has failed. It essentially stops the production of your skin's natural oil, sebum and has serious side effects- Birth defects. Liver complications. Dry, scaly skin. Sun burns. Joint and muscle pains. Depression - I was so scared to try it. But I hated having acne more. So I left it in God's hands and started my course on April 26th 2012.

I was put on a high dose of 60mg a day for 6 months and I truthfully didn't see any improvement until the 3/4th month mark. If anything it seemed to get worse initially. But halfway through the redness and the swelling had decreased and I was getting fewer spots every week. By the 5th month my skin was completely clear. In fact I actually got compliments on my skin, something that hadn't happened in years.  And I am so so blessed because the ONLY side effects I experienced were chapped lips and occasional sun burn, which is nothing to make noise about living in Lagos.

So here's what my skin looked like this morning straight with nothing on it:


Please pause for the new growth in the corner lol



In the practice of full disclosure I have to say Roaccutane is a SERIOUS drug with serious side-effects so please bear in mind that its a last-resort kind of drug. It puts extra stress on your liver so you'll need to take blood tests every month to make sure your liver function isn't deteriorating (that's also why you're advised to not drink alcohol while you're on it- I did though). As a female, you'll also have to go on birth control and take monthly pregnancy tests as well. Any responsible doctor will make you do this whether you're sexually active or not because you CANNOT take Roaccutane while your pregnant, you can risk deforming your child *gulp* Serious business. You must get a prescription from a dermatologist. Your dosage is person-specific and determined by a hundred different factors that only a specialist would be in a position to make. It's also very expensive. I got mine here in Lagos for N15,000 (£60/$100) for 10 days supply. And I was on it for 6 months, so you do the math.  30% of patients on Roaccutane will need  to repeat their course one or two times before their acne is completely cured and it doesn't work for everyone, so please do your research if you're thinking of trying it. With that said, Roaccutane was a miracle worker for me.

In the beauty world, no one seems to talk about acne. Yes of course we complain about the odd spot here and there. Or you hear about "breakouts" that usually means one solitary pimple, usually brought on my stress or that time of the month. But acne, not so much. And I don't blame anyone really, after all acne is an ugly thing. And besides makeup tutorials on how to cover it up, or an array of different skin care regmens where does this pesky massive issue fit in the beauty world really? And it's for that exact reason why I decided to share my journey with you. It was difficult and horrible and totally worth it. I believe getting through tough things gives you character. And teaches you not to be defined by the exterior. It was so easy to stay in my room and feel sorry for myself and I had those days when I did, but for the most part I refused to let this get me down. I know there's no way I could've got through it without my family and friends' support so big shout outs to everyone that kept my spirits up and blatantly lied to my face that it was getting better when it clearly wasn't LOL! At the end of it all it's amazing to have clear skin now and not feel forced to wear makeup every day.  But most importantly, I'm happy to just be done with it and move on! Now I can share my experiences with you all and hopefully encourage someone to find a treatment, stick with it and remain positive. As my dermatologist so lovingly said, "no one deserves to have acne".


All my Love,
Ifeyinwa



28 comments:

  1. Thanks for doing this Ify! Coming from an acne sufferer it was really nice to see you put it out there! Hugs! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks alot Kiki! I do it for all of us out there xx

      Delete
    2. Hello Ifeyinwa,

      This is my 4th month on roaccutane...doing my tests regularly and now on 40mg
      .my face is near perfect..no more oily skin and acne. I almost didnt start cos of the cost until i saw your post ..thanks for sharinh

      Delete
    3. Hello Ifeyinwa,

      This is my 4th month on roaccutane...doing my tests regularly and now on 40mg
      .my face is near perfect..no more oily skin and acne. I almost didnt start cos of the cost until i saw your post ..thanks for sharinh

      Delete
  2. that was inspiring, gotta be serious about it, but did you try any homemade remedies, some of them work for me......avoiding the big talk with the dermatologist!

    Btw awsume writing style!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Genie! Thanks so much, I have to say I wasn't very patient with the natural remedies thing. Back then I wasn't very interested in that sort of thing lol. But if you're interested in that sort of thing I can do some research a put a post up in the future? X

      Delete
    2. looking forward to it, these meds scare me.......btw love love your looks, post on fashion please......you are too good !

      Delete
    3. Awww shucks you're so sweet.. Never thought of myself as a fashionista but I might just try that out x

      Delete
  3. OMG! ur skin is amazing now, wat a change xx Glad alls well now. M x

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Ify!....lol so weird another Kiki commented on top....anyway, i reckon the acne may be hormonal, and possibly allergenic..take out dairy and gluten from your diet and see how that works....and even red meat (beef etc)...The roaccutane has MAJOR SIDE EFFECTS I've seen and heard of, but glad it worked for you. YAY!


    Kiki Ag.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kiki A! Yup Roaccutane is a very serious drug so that's why its offered as a last resort for acne sufferers that have tried various other treatments with no luck. But thats great advice, I'll be writing a piece on natural ways to deal with acne so I'm definitely going to look into those suggestions. Thanks! xx

      Delete
  5. The Yasmin took about 2-3 months to kick in, and the results were not as impressive as the Doxycycline but it worked.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hiya! Yeah Docyclcline worked for me but unfortunately the results didn't last once I stopped taking it. Roaccutane seems to have done the trick *touch wood*

      Delete
  6. Roaccutane is the most effective way for acne treatment. There are no other medicines that treat acne like the way Roaccutane does. Roaccutane contains the active ingredient Isotretinoin. Isotretinoin reduces the excessive production of natural oil (sebum) produced by skin.

    ReplyDelete
  7. WAOUH the chnages are stunning, i 'm actually at the first picture phase and i want to get rid of my acné too! will search for infos on roaccutane here in Cameroon..thanks for the review!

    www.thehairlover.bloogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi , where did you get your prescription for roaccutane in lagos. Desperate. Hate my skin at the moment please helppppp

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry to hear that. I didn't get a prescription in Lagos, I saw dermatologists in London and South Africa. You will have to see a local dermatologist for that and no decent one would recommend Roaccutane as a first treatment. It's more of a last resort medication because its very strong. Regardless I would go see your doctor (GP) first and get a referral to a dermatologist and discuss your options then. Good luck x

      Delete
  9. no one really deserve to have acne!!!!
    it just takes away yourself confidence, i have acne for all my adult life, i pray to have a testimony like yours one day.
    ezechimereuchenna.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.
    Dermatologia

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh my goodness, am so sorry dear. I hope this doesnt cause anymore side effects but anything that works for you. Just so i throw this in there, acne.org is very good, thats what i use and its cheap with no side effects. Plus its a site where people post things that actually works for them. Am posting this for anyone who want clear face but cant afford any of this, go check them out and check out my review of it.
    www.thatnigeriangirl.net, BTW ify i would highly appreciate it if you followed me back and check me out. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  12. is your skin still clear... the side effects are scary

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi,
    I've battled with acne similar to yours & tired of trying different remedies & medications. I tried a lot of homemade remedies that seemed to work at first but did not help for long. I've been looking for isotretinoin for long & I'm happy I can get it in Nigeria. My fear is the side effect which I also realize I've got no choice. Though it's expensive but will try it. Thanks for this write up. It has encouraged me. I like your skin transformation & wished mine was clear also.
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hey a Doctor prescribed Retin A with Doxycycline. How effective could that be! I was using Benzoyl peroxide it made no difference and my acne is back with a vengeance. I'm all spoty and swollen. I eat healthy observe all the hygiene rules. I usually have allergies and all but I've stayed clear of all my triggers but the acne is getting worse! Pls help

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The reviews for Duac is really nice and promising. I think you should try it out. Obtainable in med/health plus. I for one, still saving for it. :D

      Delete
    2. Hello MzPain, how is your skin now? I just happened to be here and I thought I should drop a line. There is practically a universe of things that could trigger acne. You need to check if it runs in the family (cos often times it does), then check your stress levels, check your diet ( I find that milk and other dairy foods trigger acne for me), then check the skincare products you are using. Most store bought products are packed with irritants-fragrance and chemicals that are IMPOSSIBLE to pronounce. I'm just emerging from a breakout phase myself and I find raw black soap mixed with camwood powder quite helpful. I follow this with pure Rosehip oil {from Ajali :-)}and it has been a steady improvement; not porcelain smooth but my facial skin is no longer running temperature (I mean that literally). You could also consider getting regular facial treatments before turning to antibiotics-the bacteria always tends to develop resistance to drugs.

      Delete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you ♥