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what you need to know about acutane

Updated on March 27, 2012

be careful using acutane

When I turned 14 I had a serious outbreak of acne. The pimples were all over my face and back. They weren't small zits either. They were large painful cystic pimples. So at the beginning of my freshman year I was prescribed acutane. Usually people are prescribed a 6 month regiment. If you or your kids will be on acutane please read this article so you will know what to expect (it's not a walk in the park). Here is a basic time table of what to expect while on acutane.

weeks 1-6 You will see a moderate clear up of all the smaller pimples on your face, however, you will also notice the first side-effect-dry skin. Your skin will get very very dry. Acutane basically kills your oil producing glands in your skin to stop pimples from forming. I had to have chapstick 24/7, and even with chapstick my lips would peel like a snake shedding it's skin. It was gross, but everyone goes through it.

weeks 7-12 At this point your/your child will begin to realize how long a 6 month regiment is. Another terrible part of acutane is the monthly blood tests. Acutane can have terrible affects on your liver, if left unchecked. As a result your blood will be drawn every month and tested to make sure your body is handling acutane properly. I hate needles, so having about 4 oz of blood drawn every month became a real nightmare.

weeks 13-18 Parents, take note. This is when one of the most dangerous side-effects is in full swing: depression. When I wasn on acutane I thought I was depressed because of my acne. However, a few years later it was discovered that acutane actually cuases deep depression in some patients. Teenagers have killed themselves while on acutane. Watch your kids for signs of depression. I got really depressed feeling like I'd never clear up, my scars would be gross etc. This also the period where the flare up is in full swing. For a while acutane works great, but there is a flare up stage where the face re-breaks out. It's you acne's last charge. This can be a very depressing blow after seeing so much progress. However it means the acutane is working.

weeks 18-24 Now it is evident that the acne is indeed receeding. There will be marks for a while, but now the skin is looking good. At this point the end is in sight, and hopefully your spirits are up. It takes about a month or so after you go off acutane to really see perfect skin. Keep in mind that sometimes people have to go back on acutane. My 6 month treatment cured my skin. I have never had a problem with pimples since then. However some people have to go back on acutane bcause their skin immediately goes back to the way it was. Take heart though. Almost 100% of people who go on 2 regiments are cured.


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    • Knowledge>Power profile image

      Knowledge>Power 7 years ago from USA

      yeah, dry skin is awful, but my skin has been clear for 10 years now, worth the embarrassment of a few months, i forgot about the nosebleeds though

    • ashleybegin profile image

      ashleybegin 7 years ago from Norfolk, VA

      Nice Article. I took acutane too, and I found the dry skin was the worst. It caused me nose bleeds and my lips would bleed too.