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How to Get Clear Skin – For Good (Part I)

One of the main topics I considered writing about back in October when I started my blog was my journey to clear skin. Today’s the day! Read on to find out for yourselves how I got rid of blemishes for good – and how you can do so, too 🙂

To let the cat out of the bag straightaway: The one (and only) thing that helped me to get rid of my acne was a drug called Accutane. If you have ever read about or heard of this medication, you will know that going on Accutane can be quite an intimidating perspective, which is why in the course of the following weeks, I want to post about every single step of this prescription treatment and provide you with as much information as possible. So whether you are considering Accutane for yourselves, whether you have already started your therapy or whether you are just gathering information, stick around for first hand experience 🙂

I want to start this little series by explicitly pointing out that Accutane is a prescription drug with good reason: Not only is it very powerful, it is also known for its extremely strong side effects. Please consider these posts as my personal story that you might well relate to, but that can by no means replace a dermatological consultation!

ClearSkin1

1965 Skin Care Ad, Pond’s New Fresh-Start, with Young Model Veronica Hamel by Classic Film is licensed under  CC BY-NC 2.0)

Part 1: Could Accutane be the right treatment for me?

In order to illustrate when Accutane might be taken into account as a potential form of therapy, today’s post is going to be dedicated to the story of my skin problems and a description of my skin condition before the treatment. It goes without saying that a drug as powerful (and as expensive for medical insurance companies) as Accutane will not be prescribed if any other less expensive and aggressive form of therapy seems promising to your dematologist. As for many other patients therefore, Accutane came as the last resort to me.

When I decided to speak to a doctor about this medication, I had just turned 23 was looking back at exactly ten years of bad skin, which was just about half of the life I remembered, and the entirety of my adult life at that:

  • Just like any other teenager, I started to break out at the beginning of puberty: Back then already however, my skin was worse that most of my friends’, and I obviously suffered a lot from it. I do not want to sound dramatic in this post (nor in general for that matter ;-)), but let’s just state once and for all that nothing has ever made me feel worse about myself than my skin. Over the next few years, I bought every single over-the-counter acne product I could find (La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar, Vichy’s Normaderm, Clerasil, Auriège, Neutrogena, Nivea and Bebe to name just a few of the most popular brands). Not a single of these lotions, scrubs and creams worked, and I would still have blackheads on my nose as well as bad break-outs on my nose, forehead and cheeks and on my temples and chin in particular.
  • Realizing that lotions and scrubs alone would not do the job, I decided to place myself in the hands of a good beautician. She did an amazing job, my skin was deep-cleaned on a monthly basis, but as soon as the scars from the spots she had popped or cut open had faded (you might by now be able imagine the size of spots we are talking about…), new zits would appear. Going on the pill did not change a single thing either, even though I was prescribed a supposedly anti-blemish one.
  • After four or five years, I started to consult various dermatologists and was soon diagnosed with (a relatively mild form of) cystic acne (but cystic acne nonetheless). I was then prescribed antibiotics, which did strictly nothing for me, and Epiduo, which made my skin peel like crazy (which is normal), but didn’t change anything about my acne (which is not normal).
  • At uni, my life changed in every possible way, and I was distracted from my skin condition for a few months. For the first time, I was able to make my own choices about what I wanted to eat, hence I started to experiment with my nutrition quite a lot: To my great surprise, a vegan diet improved my skin condition more than anything else had done before: I’ve been a vegan ever since. An “improved” skin condition however did not mean that I was zit free: Even though my forehead and especially my temples had noticeably cleared up, I would still break out on the lower half of my face and on my chin in particular.
  • My enthusiasm about the unexpected improvement soon faded away: After a second and last round of Epiduo, I was at the end of my tether: Having spent an insane amount of money and time and still being left with cystic acne on my chin for 90 % of the time exasperated me and, most of all, made me angry: I felt like I had to take matters into my own hands after having unsuccessfully trusted a number of professionals over the past ten years. Back in 2013 therefore, after having done my own research, I went to a new dermatologist and directly asked him for an Accutane prescription. It was the best skin care decision I have made in my entire life!

By telling you my story, I by no means want to imply that you have to suffer from acne for ten entire years before you can start your Accutane treatment: Ten years of acne do horrible things to your skin (scars) and soul, and the sooner you put an end to your condition, the better for your physical and mental health. However, as I am going to explain in another post, Accutane can have severe side effects that you should not inflict upon your body unless absolutely necessary. Therefore, 1.) if you suffer from acne (not just an occasional hormonal break-out) 2.) after your puberty (!), 3.) skip the whole over-the-counter stuff: You are just kicking the can down the road. 4.) Talk to a good dermatologist 5.) and have your hormonal levels checked. 6.) If whatever your dermatologist prescribes you (Epiduo, antibiotics etc.) doesn’t work, 7.) don’t give up like I did: The only reason it took me 10 years to finally get a proper treatment was the desperation after each failed attempt. No (!) adult has to live with a face full of pimples. And neither do you! Take matters into your own hands and ask for Accutane. Or maybe just stick around until the next post, in which I want to explain what Accutane is and what it does. See you then! 🙂

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5 thoughts on “How to Get Clear Skin – For Good (Part I)

  1. Pingback: How to Get Clear Skin – For Good (Part II) | The Wherewithals

  2. Reading this makes me feel so much better…like I’m not the only one on this planet struggling from acne… 😦
    My skin has been real angry with me and acting up since last Sept and I have no clue why…I’ve tried a zillion things but it just keeps coming back…
    I think I’m going to go see a doc finally to figure out what’s the best treatment.
    thanks so much for posts like these! ❤ them 🙂

    Like

    • This comment really means a lot to me 🙂 I myself have always been feeling like I am the only one I know struggling with acne, and it feels good to know I am not. Sadly, I am only too familiar with phases of my skin acting up, then being good, than acting up again. But I now see my “relationship with my skin” as a relationship in the strict sense of the word: In a relationship with another person, you would go through ups and downs too, right? But the downs would not be the end of it! You’d work on your problems, maybe look for professional help, and it’d get better again 🙂 I think we need to accept, in skin care, but also in life, that there is no such thing as uninterrupted bliss. There will be crises, but more importantly, there will be help, too! Even if help is “just” temporarily… But as I’ve said before, uninterrupted bliss is a questionable concept in my eyes, so crises are normal, they are to be expected even! But they are just occasional incidents that don’t have to last! And that’s what the title “clear skin for good” means: The belief that there is a treatment out there (but at the doctor’s rather than at the drugstore!) that can (if followed through correctly, see my comment unter Part II) relieve your acne for a certain period of time, longer for some, shorter for others. Many people who have been on Isotretinoin (or any other treatment) report that their skin got bad again after a few years; but they’ve had their one year or two or three of clear skin! That’s something in my eyes!
      And if the skin starts acting up again, we’ll just start another round of the same, or another, treatment. But we must never let it get us down! A crisis is not the end of the game 🙂 All the best for you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey Anne…It feels so good to see someone talk about these ‘real-life’ issues…i know some people might be like ‘oh my god …TMI’ …but there will always be more like US out there who are really struggling…and who will appreciate and relate to info like this.
        It’s true what you said about being in a relationship with your skin… i totally agree…but I’m at a stage where i feel like I’m putting so much of effort in…really loving and caring for it but getting lil’ or nothing in return…and that’s where I wanna give up hope… but just not yet i guess!
        Acne has had such a HUGE impact in my life….it changes how one feels about themselves…feeling less confident maybe…on days i feel ‘ugly’…not realising that people around me who love me don’t even notice my acne….its just a ‘thing’… and that’s what i hope people will tale away from this…Acne is just a Thing…its not YOU!
        Once again, thank you lovely girl… it takes a lot of courage to share! ❤

        Ankita
        https://beautyandthebeing.wordpress.com

        Like

      • Oh yes, I’ve been through that “phase” (more like that decade) of trying every single over-the-counter product on the market, being accused of not washing my face properly etc. This is why it is so important to see a dermatologist. Advertising makes it look like fighting acne is easy, but dermatologically speaking, it is not, and it requires some serious knowledge and expertise… Thank you for starting this dialogue. I really hope it encourages a few women out there to seek help and not to accept acne as an unwanted part of themselvs they just have to suffer from forever… Even if there might be no permanent solutions, there certainly are temporary ones. Thank goodness acne is “just” a skin condition after all, not a curse: And it can be helped with just a little bit of proper science 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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