Skin Story: Experience With Isotretinoin for Acne
Hear about one person's experience with taking isotretinoin to treat acne
Edited By:Hadar Lev-Tov , MD, MAS
Krista is a college student suffering from severe acne, including hormonal acne on her chin. After having antibiotics proved ineffective to her acne, she switched to an isotretinoin treatment. I sat down to interview her about her current experience after switching to isotretinoin.
How did you decide on isotretinoin for treatment of your acne?
“I was on minocycline, a commonly prescribed oral antibiotic, for 8 months to treat my acne. My acne was inflamed and left my face red. It was not effective in treating the severity of my acne so I had to go to a private doctor to see someone for treatment. They recommended I go on Accutane (Isotretinoin) so I decided to pay out of pocket for the prescription. This generally costs from $200-300 a month.”
What was it like being on isotretinoin?
“To be on isotretinoin I had to sign an iPLEDGE every month to get my prescription. Additionally, I had to prove I was using condoms or some form of birth control. This was a liability precaution to make sure I wasn’t pregnant and every month I would have to do either a blood test or urine test for me to stay on the medication. Isotretinoin can’t be used by anyone who is pregnant or may become pregnant because of the serve birth defects that can result.”
Did you see any results?
“I started my treatment about a month ago, and then when I moved to college I had to find a place to cover my prescription so I went off the medication for two weeks. During that time, my acne came back, so I haven’t seen any significant result yet, but I have noticed my forehead acne clearing up. My prescription is for 6 months and I can already see my skin becoming drier and clearer. My chin has more hormonal acne so it might not be as effective against that portion, but I am hopeful as I was bumped to a higher dose, which is supposed to be more effective.”
Were there any problems you encountered?
“Being on isotretinoin, I experienced a lot of the side effects which included dry lips, muscle pains in my lower back, and spots of dry skin throughout my body. I have been through about 3 chapsticks and use Aquaphor at night religiously due to the dry, cracked lips and my skin being constantly dry.
For my first month of using the medication, I was on 20 mg and it affected my menstrual cycle as well. I usually have a 5-day period but I noticed that it decreased to 2 days with the isotretinoin.”
Do you recommend that others with similar skin conditions use isotretinoin?
“I recommend for people with severe acne to try an isotretinoin treatment as I think that the in-the-moment symptoms and side effects are worth it in the long run. It is important to speak with a physician to see if they recommend using isotretinoin for your personal skin conditions.”
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