My journey with Roaccutane

Friday, August 15, 2014

I finally mustered up the courage to reveal a secret I've been keeping for the past 6 months. I kept everyone in the dark because I was too embarrassed & couldn't confront my situation. Now that things have improved & the bad memories left behind, I wish to share the experience I had after enduring the difficult times.

Most of you probably didn't know that I was diagnosed with mildly severe acne condition since last year. I didn't understand my problem, so why would you? It all began as small papules around my forehead not too long after Grandpa left us. Three months later, my condition worsen with papules multiplying into rashes as I struggled to cope with the loss & mounting stress in the workplace. I took an easy way out by using topical creams ie Oxy to reduce the swelling. It worked miraculously & almost all the pimples disappeared. The only problem the cream couldn't solve was my unusually oily skin.

Unfortunately, my condition took a turn for the worst because the rashes relapsed. The papules turned into pustules. It was very unsightly & started hating myself for being so ugly. It was then that I decided to quit my job & took two months off. Thankfully the pimples subsided but somehow the slight rash didn't fully disappear. When I started my new job in February, the pimple rash became more noticeable & my forehead was particularly greasy albeit being in the air-cond room for most of the time.

At that moment, I made up my mind to seek help from a dermatologist recommended through a friend. The doctor put on a one-month Acure prescription after confirming that I was indeed suffering from acne vulgaris. Acure is the generic drug name for Roaccutane. The drug didn't come cheap - RM200 with 30 capsules per box.

I googled more info about Roaccutane & digested as much as possible the risks & side effects that could affect me. I diligently popped a pill every day based on doctor's instruction, determined to clear off the acne as soon as possible.

1 week later

It was amazing & frightening at the same time to see the effect of Roaccutane after barely a week. All of a sudden, postules proliferated & I noticed blackheads were more visible than ever before. The good news was the excess sebum on my forehead had reduced tremendously. However, my lips were showing cracked lines, drier than I expected.

One month later

My forehead had worsen so terribly horrible that I couldn't bring myself to to look at the mirror every day. The pain was unbearable because the postules had transformed into nodules & cysts. It felt like the nodules & cysts were about to erupt anytime soon. I felt incredibly dry, inside out & was religiously applying lip balm every hour to sooth my severely cracked lips. Thankfully, it didn't bleed. Initially, I refused to photograph my progress because I was too embarrassed. But I had to document each stage to ensure there is progress.

Three months later

I almost gave up Roaccutane because it seemed to be aggravating my problem instead of curing it. I'm glad I didn't & results were generally positive. Surprisingly in just 4 months, my acne dried up almost instantly with my forehead demonstrating signs of recovery. What's left is the dark spots & minor scarrings, remnants of a previous cystic acne spot. I chose to believe that the remnants will vanish in no time if I take good care of my forehead.

I'd like to announce the good news that my condition had improved so well that I was off the drug for a while. It took 4 months for my acne to be fully extracted & cleared from my pores. Roaccutane is indeed an effective medicine to treat acne, even the severe ones. It's not a hormone pill; it contains an active ingredient called isotretinoin which is known as a retinoid. No idea what retinoid is? It's a chemical compound related to vitamin A. Roaccutane works by suppressing the activity of sebaceous glands in the skin - in other words reducing the amount of sebum produced in the glands.

To those who are contemplating about taking Roaccutane as prescribed their doctors, I assure you that the drug is generally safe when precautionary measures are taken. The drug is known to cause harm to the baby in pregnant women & may cause miscarriages. Refrain from using this drug & consult your doctor if you plan to conceive. Just make sure to use contraception if you're sexually active.

Treating acne is a lengthy process & requires patience. Each individual reacts differently to Roaccutane - some may show immediate results of recovery while others may go through a series of worsen condition before it heals. In my case, I was one of the latter & it was indeed a test of patience & self-esteem. When I was in the brink of giving up, I reminded myself that I had spent too much on medicines that giving up makes me sound like a child. I presevered & here I am...back to my original self. A happier me.