March 2013. It was around this time that I developed harsh, cystic acne, and from here began my quest to find the cure.
Like most acne sufferers I tried cutting out various food groups, taking vitamins, antibiotics, using plants instead of chemicals on my face, and spending an exorbitant amount of money on different skincare ranges. I even cut sugar out of my diet, which nearly killed me (melodramatic, yes, but you get the point).
In mid 2015, after none of these worked and dermatological light treatment was not strong enough, I took the plunge and started taking Oratane, or as most people would call it, Roaccutane.
Oratane’s website gives the best definition of this acne treatment:
“Oratane capsules contain a medication known as isotretinoin. Isotretinoin is often a cure for acne. It is a similar substance to Vitamin A, but the action of isotretinoin is very different.
Oratane works by reducing the amount of oily substances produced by the oil making glands in your skin. This reduces the amount of bacteria in the skin. These bacteria are the cause of the ‘pus’ and inflammation found with acne. Oratane may help reduce the inflammation of the skin.”
To me this treatment was a last resort. The never-ending list of side effects including peeling skin and dermatitis right through to organ and bone damage was a huge deterrent. It’s also important to mention that for women the medication causes defects in childbirth (missing limbs, etc), so you have to sign a form agreeing to be on the contraceptive pill for the duration of your treatment.
But by this point in my life I had become so insecure from the painful, cystic acne on my face, that I decided to take the plunge. All other options had been exhausted.
My dermatologist was extremely supportive and knew that my anxious self was severely concerned about side effects. I started on a dosage of 10mg, twice a week for two weeks so that my body could adjust to it. After this, it was once every day. To my surprise I received very few side effects! I had the basic dry skin, dry eyes and peeling lips, but that was all. And after about 6 months of being on the medication, my normally oily skin had subsided and I could go an entire day wearing makeup without it budging. I noticed a difference around the 2-month mark and somewhere between 6 months and a year, my acne had disappeared.
My dosage has now significantly decreased; I take a 10mg tablet once a week, and when I next see my dermatologist in February 2017, I should be able to come off it entirely.
There is a chance that my acne will come back, but there’s also a chance that I will be acne-free for the rest of my life. Your body changes as you grow older, so this cannot be predicted with certainty.
All I know is that taking this medication was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I cannot recommend it enough.
I hope that someone out there going through a similar experience to mine will see this and know that there’s hope. A cure is, in fact, a reality.