When I was a teenager, I had 50 spines all over my face at any moment. Yes, literally 5-0. I told. I tried every prescription and over-the-counter drug, and while some of it worked – well, for a few years on end – the cysts and whiteheads always came back. Finally, my mother asked my dermatologist to prescribe isotretinoin, which used to be called – and is still commonly known as – Accutane.
I took the pill every day for five months and my acne disappeared. My skin basically made a total of 180, to the point that I do real doubles in the mirror. My friend Maggie, 26, also attributes isotretinoin to the restoration of her skin. "I would not be the same person today without her. It was essential for me " She writes when I ask about her experience. Like me, she does not regret it.
But the problem is that some people do – or at least have questions. Lots of issues. Google "Accutane" and you'll see what I mean. "Why is Accutane dangerous? "" Is it safe to use Accutane for acne? "And" What are the risks of taking Accutane? " Immediately pop up and link to articles on potentially scary side effects. (If I had already developed my age-old habit of researching every Rx I get, teenager I might have been too terrified to take my first dose.)
Much of the panic began when a 17-year-old US representative ex-son died of suicide in 2000. He was in Accutane for six months before his death (a typical course of treatment lasts four to six months), and his father blamed the drug, sparking years of contentious debate.
Stimulated in part by this tragedy and the like, scientists have sought clear links between isotretinoin and depression and suicide. Some patients stated that taking the medication caused their depression, but so far, there is no conclusive evidence that Accutane leads directly to mental health problems.
Salicylic Acid Serum
Use this 2% salicylic acid serum throughout or as a local treatment to keep pores free from acne-causing sebum and dead skin cells.
This retinoid gel treats acne in two ways: 1. Increases cell renewal to keep pores clean and 2. Reduces inflammation associated with breakouts. It is strong, so use it only every three days in the first few months.
10 percent sulfur in this mask cleans deeply the pores, absorbs excess oil and eliminates bacteria. For best results, apply it on clean skin for 10 minutes twice a week.
"Multiple controlled studies do not support this hypothesis," says dermatologist and psychiatrist Amy Wechsler, MD. "In fact, we often see an increase in self-esteem and mood during treatment, because cleansing the skin can promote confidence." (In the early 2000s, spokespersons for the Accutane manufacturer argued that, as adolescents often suffer from acne and depression, the two diseases may overlap, but it has not been proven that treatment from one mild to the other. )
The five dermatologists I interviewed for this story still stand out for Accutane as a safe, effective and effective acne treatment, especially the stubborn type that does not respond to anything else. "We're still learning more about how exactly that works," admits Rachel Nazarian, MD, "but we know it slows down the sebaceous glands and makes cell turnover more efficient. And only in recent months have we learned that it also alters the microbiome of the skin, the collection of good and bad bacteria, to mimic that of someone who does not have inflammatory acne. We know enough to feel very comfortable about prescribing it to my patients. "
Still, the drug is not 100% free of side effects, and a serious warning would give anyone a break: Women should never become pregnant while taking Accutane because they can cause serious birth defects. Before you take your first dose, you need to clean two blood or urine pregnancy tests at least 30 days apart, and literally promise (do not use an online FDA program) to use not one but two forms of control birth rate for a month before, during, and a month after being on the drug. You also need to do monthly follow-up tests to rule out pregnancy, and many doctors will monitor your blood along the way to look at the liver or other complications.
I know this sounds intense. But it's worth noting that much of this stems from stringent US regulations."We are the only country in the world that monitors isotretinoin at this level," says dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. "You could essentially go into a pharmacy in South America, order and buy that day."
Here are a few more perspectives: the dermatoses I've talked to have collectively written more than 2,200 isotretinoin prescriptions, and fewer than 15 patients had serious problems (any of their problems were solved with a lower dose or a difficult stop). "The most common side effects are dry skin and sun sensitivity," says Dr. Wechsler. "They are usually well-administered with lip balm, moisturizer and SPF."
Infused with hyaluronic acid (a humectant that attracts moisture to the skin), this non-stripper helps moisturize the skin while you clean.
Soothing face cream
Spread this moisturizer morning and evening to minimize dryness and peeling. The mild formula is free of potential irritants such as synthetic fragrances and dyes.
Any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen, but if your skin is red or sensitive, opt for a broad spectrum mineral formula made with zinc (like this one) – it's less likely to irritate your skin.
Hayden, 26, another friend who took Accutane, says it definitely dehydrated the skin and caused joint pain. And she is still dealing with straw-like hair (the drug reduces the size of the oil gland's sand suppresses the production of oil everywhere, including the scalp). But despite these problems, she says: "I do not regret taking Accutane. Acne can be crippling and helped to free me from the worst of the breakouts. "
As for me, the only annoyances I had while using the drug were frequent blood tests, scaly lips and having to figure out how to hide my pimples while waiting for it to happen. In fact, I am considering the second round, because after years without acne (the results can last from a year to always, depending on the patient and the dose), I have an occasional leak. And now that I'm armed with the latest research and all these okay vaccines, I'm ready to recover my "yes-I-1000-for-wake" skin.