Everything you need to know about Roaccutane

Most people struggle with acne at some point in their life, either as teenagers or in their early twenties when hormones are rife. It can be a debilitating condition that can not only massively affect your skin, but also your mental health. But is there a cure? Unfortunately there isn’t a cure for acne but one treatment has taken the world by storm over the last few years, for both good and bad reasons.

Roaccutane, also known as accutane and isotretinoin, is a brutal but very effective anti-inflammatory oral treatment for severe acne. It works by attacking the sebaceous glands (the bits that make oil) in the skin and therefore reduces the oil production. It also helps to reduce the number of bacteria that are live in the skin. It has an 80% success rate when given for over 4 months and it must be prescribed and also closely supervised by a specialist dermatologist.

Taking roaccutane involves blood and pregnancy tests every 4 weeks, paying close attention to your cholesterol levels. For women it’s crucial to get pregnancy tested every month as the drugs are so strong, it can cause serious harm to a developing foetus. The decision to be placed on this treatment is not to be taken lightly, as it can have detrimental effects on both you physically and emotionally.

Common side effects include VERY dry skin, lips & eyes, nosebleeds, muscle aches and increased sun sensitivity. These occur due to the tablets sucking out all of the moisture in your body to try and stop the excess oil production. This means your body will be more sensitive and fragile whilst you undergo treatment.

Serious side effects are rare but they do include anxiety, depression, psychosis and suicide. Over the last few years there has been some high profile cases of people being put on the drug and then unfortunately committing suicide. This has lead to numerous petitions to get the treatment banned and also intensifies how scary roaccutane can be. Your dermatologist will carry out a full assessment prior to the prescription to make sure that you’re fit and well and that your body will be able to take on these big changes.

In order to alleviate the common side effects we recommend using a specialist deep hydrating moisturiser, heavy duty lip balm and eye drops to help combat the dryness. Applying Vaseline to the inside edges of your nose to stop the blood vessels in your nose from rupturing and causing nosebleeds. Taking cod liver oil tablets and drinking 3 litres of water a day to help the aches and pains. You should also be wearing SPF 50 every day without fail whilst on roaccutane as it makes your skin extremely photosensitive. This means your more sensitive to sunlight and more likely to burn. Please also bear in mind you’re also unable to have any facial treatments for 6 months after you finish your course of antibiotics. This is due to your skin still being super sensitive and massively susceptible to injury.

If you’re struggling with acne make sure you go to your GP who will be able to help you. Roaccutane is seen as a ‘last hope’ for many people who have tried everything else under the sun. Again, it’s not a decision to be made lightly and isn’t suitable for everybody but your GP will be able to advise you further and refer you to a dermatologist if needs be.

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