I am smiling as I write this because I’m soooo happy with the results of this Sotret on my skin. My skin has cleared up so quickly and it looks almost normal. It’s not perfect but to even get to this stage is a huge deal for me. Here are some before and after pictures to show you everything that has changed.
Before I go into details of my treatment, I’d to explain what isotretinoin is & why it is the last resort treatment to acne but a wonder-drug too.
The medicine is an oral pill that is a very concentrated form of Vitamin A which simply put cuts out oil production in your body. Most people who have mild to severe acne vulgaris have oily skin have clogged pores & sebum – which gets infected resulting in zits that comes out as blackheads, whiteheads, pustules etc. which are all horrible forms of acne. Since the oil production is cut out, it leaves you with not only very dry skin, but also dry hair and painful joints among some other side effects.
Getting onto the medicine:
For a girl to get isotretinoin, you must have 2 negative pregnancy tests through 2 months (although not strictly followed in India, I had 1 test only. Some are not checked at all) post which you can get up to 20 – 30 days prescription of the pill. The pill cannot be sold without prescription (again although it is not always followed in India :-/) or to anyone planning babies. For a guy on the other hand, they can just walk out with a prescription cos no pregnancy test nonsense (they have it too easy :-/) and they can plan babies too.
You doctor also additionally will ensure your temperament, stress levels, emotions, allergies are checked via a basic test after which you get your prescription if you pass the test. The reason being on the pill most of these issues such as mood swings, emotions, stress levels, etc. get extreme.
Your doctor will explain the seriousness of being on the drug and it is also very important to follow this To the T, to ensure you don’t have any additional troubles.
Here’s the list:
- get pregnant because of serious birth defects
- have continuous exposure to the sun because your skin is extremely thin at this time and can be easily sun burnt.
- be on any other acne treatment
- consume any other form of Vitamin A
- drink any alcohol
- skip meals
- have two pills at once if you’ve missed a dose
- drive at night in case of blurry vision
- get on any other medication while on this treatment. If you must, you will have to pause isotretinoin.
- Wax. Only threading or shaving is allowed. Waxing could rip your thin skin off.
- use sunscreen & moisturizer at all times because dry skin.
- use vaseline/ chapstick on your lips because very dry lips
- use 2 forms of protection if you are sexually active
- go for monthly blood tests to keep a check on the effects of the medicine on your body
- go for regular check ups and talk to your doctor about every side effect to know it is normal. it will also be the basis to decide whether the treatment continues or not.
- use eye drops in case of dry eyes
- eat well, exercise regularly
I was on isotretinoin for a total of 30 days. Along with that I had no other acne treatment on, since you can’t really use anything else. I loved that because for the first time in forever I felt like a normal person using normal creams on my face. Within 2 days of taking the meds I saw the zits on my face dry up. I have always had the most oily skin ever so to see my skin slowly loose oil was the best feeling ever! I could use a sunscreen on my face! That was HUGE progress already. While my experience overall was great, I did have quite a few side effects through 30 days as well. Some that I knew immediately were side effects, some took me awhile to figure out and realize.
- Emotionally low
- Delayed menstrual period
I was always feeling miserably emotionally low, which I didn’t realise at the time was a side effect. Everything bothered me that week – problems were magnified + the delayed period exaggerated it even more, I hated everyone. It was crazy. My emotions were out of control. This was crazy to handle because as a person I’m someone who does not cry easily or let my emotions go out of hand but this week I was just not myself and had no control on my emotions whatsoever.
- Cheilitis a.k.a Kylie Jenner success story
My stress levels seemed to have lowered. My skin got dryer & I was THRILLED with the dryness. But, on Day 10, letting out a big yawn & eating a huge sandwich for lunch right after, resulted in me tearing both sides of my lips which is when I realized just how bad dry lips could be. Vaseline wouldn’t cure this.
I’d honestly thought dry lips would be the easiest, turns out that was the hardest part of this journey. Day 11 & 12 I had lips swell up, looking like this:
My sis called it, the Kylie Jenner success. It may have looked alright but it hurt like crazy. I could barely smile (as you can see in the picture) or talk. Eating anything burnt the insides of my lips so I could not touch a spoon with my mouth when I ate. I also had to stay away from burgers, huge sandwiches or paani-puri cos that would tear my mouth even more.
The dryness slowly developed cold sores which are tiny itchy boils all over the lip line. I learnt that this side effect is cheilitis – which is a fancy word for cracked, swollen, red lips with cold sores and cracked corners of the mouth.
The best way to deal with this is to either buy the Bite Beauty Agave Mask available at Sephora (Rs. 3000+) or use the Indian substitute i.e. boroline (Rs. 30) + vaseline, mix in your hand with your finger and then apply the mixture all over your lips. It’s okay if you look like you ate wada pav and walked away without wiping your mouth. Little longer to perfect skin. The key ingredient here is lanolin which is what cures the dryness. You can use a flavoured lip balm over this. Glycerine will burn but will cure the cracked corners of the mouth.
- So much more dryness
- Trembling hands
- Some Acidity
By week 3, the dry lips were a part of me. I always had chap stick on me, vaseline & boroline and didn’t care that my lips looked oily. By this time, everyone around me had noticed I was addicted to chapstick and made jokes about it. Here is where not caring is important cos little longer to beautiful skin. Yay!
Remember also to always eat meals on time because you can get extreme acidity due to this medicine and you will not be able to even have another medicine if you need to cure it. So do not get sick, or have acidity or any other problems because that will mean you pausing this treatment to go on that. Also whatever sickness you have will be extreme so avoid! I took care to eat on time and eat protein packed meals always. if my meals were light, I’d always have curd or milk after. During this week I experienced a bit of trembling in my hands. I noticed this was especially when I was hungry so I started keeping biscuits with me.
The rest of my skin was amazing. I needed to use moisturizer twice a day cos my skin was so dry. Never had I dreamt of a day when I had to apply moisturiser twice! Also, if I rubbed my face a little, blackheads would just fall out, without even trying!!
This was because the medicine was making my pores small and tight and it was forcing all the gunk out of my pores that I’d been trying to push out all these years. I could see the black dots on my nose just getting lesser in hours through the day.
- EXTREME mood swings
- More Dryness
- Extreme sensitivity to the sun
By week 4, I claim I am now the happiest girl in the world. I feel pretty, I feel like I can dress up again, I feel like I wanted to line my eyes and look pretty cos my skin was just amazing. My skin had completely dried out and all that was left were scars. It’s lovely to the touch. I can’t wait for my doctor to see me and tell me what happens next because I’m so happy with my skin.
The biggest side effect in this week was again EXTREME mood swings. I don’t know how to explain this but one morning I woke up cos I could physically feel my emotions in waves inside of me. It would go from angry to very sad in minutes and in my mind I was telling myself that I’m not even angry, I’m not even sad, why am I feeling this. Realizing it was the medicine was good cos at least I could tell myself the emotions are not valid. Besides this, I’ve also been VERY sensitive to the sun. Too much time in the sun and I develop tiny white dots on my hands and feet, which turn into little blisters after. So I avoid the sun at all costs and no chance of going out without sunscreen ever. My face, just always got very red in the sun & exaggerated the scars. No white dots, probably cos I always had sunscreen on.
So there – that’s my 30 day update. My next update will come up right after my doctor’s appointment and then I’ll know whether I have to continue this or not. I’m happy to not continue the meds but I’m scared to stop and have the oil all come back and clog my pores again. But I hope this has cured my skin forever in these 30 days..