My Life On Oral Isotretinoin For Cystic Acne
BY BEN FITCHETT
Before I start this off, I have to say a massive F U to my ex who thought my skin would clear up if I solely used a flannel and hot water, this one's for you.
25 FEB - 2021
I’ve always envied those people whose worst nightmare is a single pimple to the chin. Come on babe, some of us would die to wake up like that.
Hear me out, I’m not talking about living with occasional ‘acne,’ if you can even call it that. I’m talking about ACNE! The kind that isn’t just a wee forehead bump - it’s the deep, red, painful clusters of cystic pimples that you just cannot get rid of. Those of you out there who get me, I get you too, we’re all in this together. I’ve lived through it, I’ve got the scars, and if you’re like me, you’ve either tried or spent many nights thinking about isotretinoin, i.e., Oratane.
The truth is, I really hope you aren’t like me because I’m on my THIRD Oratane cycle. That’s right, I said the third time. All of my cycles have been 10mg doses but those damn side effects still linger around. For those of you who don’t know what it’s like to be on isotretinoin – it’s like forever living with sunburnt lips. I don’t mean to scare you off Oratane because it has also been my saving grace, however, it does come with the side effects, so listen up kiddos.
Ben's skin currently
The most important lesson you have to learn is that perseverance is your best friend at the start of your journey. Although the symptoms aren’t as bad as the shit you read on the internet, they do come by. I know - it’s scary and it’s daunting. It’s not what you want to hear but your skin will get worse before it gets better. Unfortunately, this third time round, mine was worse for 2 months. However, that is probably the longest it could be bad. Awesome for me right?
During this phase, the Oratane is pulling out all the acne from under the layers of skin and drawing it out at a faster rate than normal. Your skin will slowly get noticeably dry and will cry for a moisturiser. Along with this will come the severely sensitive skin. Now, this shit will get in the way of your self-care Sunday face mask so you’ll need to find different Instagram content for the time being. My best tip is to kill two birds with one stone with a gorgeous moisturiser that has SPF in it. If you’re feeling extra clever (like I am) I use the “BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF30”. You’re moisturising, getting that SPF and getting coverage for those blemishes. And as mentioned earlier, those lips will constantly be dry and sore so keep hold of your favourite lip balm to put you out of your misery. However, this is all the worst of what is yet to come. So now, you’re accelerating on the upwards slope to glowing flawless skin.
It’s extremely important to mention that you CANNOT go out and get facial treatments and all that jazz. Most likely your favourite facial gal won’t let you get the treatment but I felt the need to warn you. Your skin will be thin, dry, and very sensitive. After your Oratane cycle, the recommended period before getting any treatment is 3 months, so wait it out doll!
It’s quite insane to think of the side effects that this small 10mg pill has put me through just to clear up my skin. This tiny pill has the ability to clear my skin from acne, however it has also led me to multiple nose bleeds (at random times, may I add), make my lips and face drier than the sahara desert, and make my skin so sensitive it burns like hell when I use skincare that is too strong. Not to forget the emotional rollercoaster when my skin purged at the beginning. There were so many days I stood in front of a mirror before I left the house just staring at my skin deciding whether I had the confidence to leave the house or not. On the verge of tears and trying to layer on my tinted moisturiser but to my disappointment also realising that is merely a moisturiser, and not a christmas miracle. To reach my ultimate low, on a lush weekend getaway to Queenstown, I had to hire my friend to facetune my skin before we posted any photos. If there is anything to convince you that you can push through, it’s reading about my terribly low self-esteem from that period of my life.
If you’re needing a reason to try out Oratane or just trying to find the encouragement to give it a go, then THIS IS IT. I know first hand how daunting it can be to try the process, it’s terrifying thinking you’re already self-conscious about your skin and that it could get worse. Babe, keep your head high like the queen you are because you are beautiful and you will continue to stay beautiful throughout the whole journey. YES - your skin may get worse and YES it may feel like the end of the world but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s not just a light, it’s a fucking dream. It’s what you’ve always wanted, that clear flawless skin.