Info About Accutane

Updated on March 22, 2009
S.K. asks from Poplar Grove, IL
33 answers

My teen son has seen a dermatologist for years trying to treat his acne, and nothing has been very effective, so we are now considering trying accutane. The dermatologist recommends it, and our pediatrician has said, "hundreds of thousands have used it with great results". I am still a little nervous about it, because the side effects can be so severe and permanent. Has anyone used accutane or know someone who did??

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C.U.

answers from Chicago on

When my sister was a teenager and young adult, she had severe acne. She took Accutane when it was first introduced, in the 1980's. Unfortunately, she had a serious reaction. I remember being told she was "allergic" to it. Accutane made her face swell to the point where she refused to leave the house, and she ended up taking a semester off from college. My sister's acne did ultimately clear up, which is probably due to the product. However, I don't know if, in hindsight, she's glad she took Accutane. I can't ask because even today, this is such a sensitive topic for her. Maybe the drug's formula has changed over the years, and this type of reaction is no longer a concern. Perhaps you can ask your son's doctor what percentage of users experience swelling, and if there's any way to test for it before putting him on a regular dose.

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B.S.

answers from Chicago on

I used it when I was about 24 (I'm 40 now). I had cystic acne as well as regular acne... it was extremely painful and nothing worked. I even had cysts in my bikini area. I had terrible dryness which caused nose bleeds. I LOVED my skin and still do. I found that neutragena facial lotion helped alot for my face and saline for my nose was helpful.
good luck!

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M.M.

answers from Chicago on

I took it several years ago and got several of the side effects. I had dry skin, awful dandruff, bloody noses, etc., etc. My skin, however, cleared up. I did not have any emotional side effects, but that is important to keep a close watch over. I don't know if there is a way to take a smaller dose than I was taking...

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C.J.

answers from Chicago on

My cousin took accutane in his teen years. It worked well for his acne, but it has left him with severely dry skin and chapped lips. He just has to use lots of lotion and chap stick, so it's really not that bad.

I have recently been using Acne Free (Target and Walgreens sell it), and I have seen great results! Much better than any dermatologist meds that I have tried in the past! I have never used Proactive, but I've heard it works well too. Acne Free is the same price as Proactive, but you can buy it in the store and don't have to wait for it in the mail. Good luck!

R.V.

answers from Chicago on

Steph -

I took it during High School (around 16). Really cleared me up. I would highly recommend it as long as it isn't taken for toooo long and you CLOSELY keep an eye on your son for depression. It made me depressed, but not as bad as I would have been if my acne didn't go away. When I stopped taking it (around 18), the depression went away and my acne was still gone. Like I said though, keep a close eye on your son if you give him this. They've tried to tie Acutane to a few high profile suicides.

Good luck to both of you!

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J.R.

answers from Chicago on

Stephanie,

Our son who is now 25 took Accutane when he was high school after trying many different things. It worked great, you just need to keep up with the doctor and the blood tests. I think he was only on it about 6 months. I know how hard this is and how hard it is on the kids too! J.

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K.S.

answers from Chicago on

Stephanie dont use it.....why.....it has major cancer causeing agents in it that burns, scares,and damages the skin. I know this because I have been dealing with my husbands adult acne for seven years his face,back,chest, arms and legs are all areas that are infected. We know the pain of acne. I've come up with a regimen in my house that has eliminated his acne and helped with other things around the house I wouldn't mind telling you about it.
[email protected]____.com

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L.S.

answers from Peoria on

I used Accutane in the 1980s. I had no side effects and noticed an immediate improvement. The embarrassing part was that I had to have monthly blood tests to make sure I wasn't pregnant as it can have devastating prenatal effects.

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P.P.

answers from Chicago on

Stephanie,
I can only speak from personal experience, but my experience with Accutane was not good. I was prescribed it for my acne, and it make my skin so dry it was scaly and itchy. However, I was only on it for two weeks because it also made me very depressed. I had wild mood swings and was crying all the time. I know that this is a side effect, but it got me pretty bad. I'm sure that it would have cleared up my skin, but the mood swings were too terrible to bear.

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E.R.

answers from Chicago on

My brother used it many years ago. It dried out his skin to the point it was painful. He quit using it because of the side effects as well. I don't believe he ever went back to that dermatologist. Perhaps you can ask your dermatologist to give you a referal to another one for a second opinion or just ask another dermatologist that is covered under your insurance (if thats an issue) for a second opinion. Good luck and I understand your hesitancy toward using accutane.

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K.N.

answers from Chicago on

I highly recommend accutane for your son. I took it in my 20's and it was the only thing that ever worked. My husband took it in high school (with great results). I also have several friends who also took it. No one ever had any side effects besides the dry lips, skin, and nose. I have a history of depression in my family and my husband has it in his family and neither one of us ever suffered from depression while on Accutane. My kids are very young, but if they have acne problems in their teens I would not think twice about getting them on Accutane :) Good Luck.

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J.L.

answers from Chicago on

Both my husband and I have been on it. The side effects are pretty severe. We had extremely dry skin and very dry cracked lips. Depression is also another side effect so if he has a history of it I would not advise this medicine. However, despite the skin dryness I recommend it. Females have to be on birth control in order for the doc to prescribe it but he obviously doesn't need to worry about that. We have 3 kids so fertility issues after obviously isn't an issue. I have no acne at all, and for eight years I think I got literally one little tiny pimple. It works!

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D.Y.

answers from Chicago on

Try th health food store. T hey should have homeopathic remedies to help. Also more natural products to help dry it up etc. My daughter recently got rocasea and was given Retnin A which seemed to make it worse. I got a homeopathic remedy for skin problems and immediately the redness lessened.

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L.R.

answers from Chicago on

There is already a lot of good advice on this but I'll add my experience as well. I had been on various antibiotics from about age 12 - 20 (and topical stuff too). The antibiotics would work for a few months and then my body would adjust to them and I'd still get lots of pimples. Mine were not awfully deep or such, but there were many - my face and back too. Also the last couple of years my body started to react to the years of being on these drugs in terms of GI issues (it all went away after I stopped taking the meds). At age 20 my dermatologist recommended Accutane. I took it for 6 months if I remember right. The only side affect I had was dry lips which was fine if I used chapstick or whatever. I had nothing else. My mom has had chronic depression ever since she was 25 so I was concerned about that, but I was totally fine. Best wishes to you and your son.

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B.M.

answers from Chicago on

Hi Stephanie,
I know a couple of people who have used it. My brother took it and has extremely dry (patchy, itchy, red) skin. It did clear up his acne, but it took a while and he was really uncomfortable during the process. He still has a few scar type patches on his skin (and we are in our 30's now and he took it in high school/college). He also tried years and years of antibiotics to attempt to clear it up before that. This only damaged his insides.

Another person I know, had emotional side effects and it didn't clear up her acne as well as everyone had anticipated. She had tried proactive and something else with very little (or no) success. It was a very frustrating process.

I would like to offer you an alternative that maybe hasn't been considered by the medical field. I have had friends with amazing success with a natural alternative, feeding his skin on the inside and out. Several of these friends had tried all the top products for acne with no results.

What I have seen is a Shaklee nutrition therapy to help rid the body of toxins. There is a 100% money back guarantee if you are not completely satisfied. I would love to be able to talk more with you about this and see if we can help your son.

Please contact me if you would like more information.
B.

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T.K.

answers from Chicago on

My brother did and it worked really well, he has no acne or just little boughts with it. Good luck.

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M.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hi Stephanie,
I rarely respond ar this sight, but I have such a strong feeling about this subject.

I took Accutane in my 20's. I wish this drug would've come out earlier so I could've taken it before I had severe scarring from the acne. I've had dermabrasion and collagen treatments to correct the scarring, but nothing really helps much after you have acne scars.

If he doesn't have signs of depression, I'd put him on it fast. The acne and the scars WILL hurt his self esteem so much. I think the small risk is worth the benefits.

My lips were incredibly dry during treatment, but it was/is the only time I have really felt clean my whole life. I feel oily even now at 44.

M.

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L.Z.

answers from Chicago on

As a teen (about 16 yrs ago), I took accutane and I didn't experience ANY side effects. I remember getting my blood tested often because of it's effects on the liver. It worked well for me; however, I do remember having very dry, red, skin while it was working. My nephew (about 8 yrs ago) also took accutane. Similar to you, my sister-in-law (my nephew's mother) also had concerns about all the suicide reports that were coming out at the same time her son was taking the drug. She decided that if monitored closely it was a safe drug. Best wishes with your decision.

I am a SAHM of a 2 yr old and 8 mos old.

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C.E.

answers from Chicago on

Hi Stephanie,
I took 3 months of Accutane back in the late 80's and had great results. I had cystic acne and was very self-conscious as a teenager and freshman in college. The only thing that I remember is that I had to have monthly blood work drawn; esp. a pregnancy test because it can cause serious birth defects. I still have the occasional pimple and am 39 but nothing like when I was younger. I hope that this helps.
C. E

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D.S.

answers from Chicago on

I was on it as a teenager and it had horrible side effects but it cleared up my acne for a few years. As an adult, I take probiotics and Pure Vitamin B Complex and have the best skin of my life! B Complex is amazing for your skin. Not all are created equal though. Give this a shot before diving in to heavy duty drugs.

Good luck! And let us know how it works. Take good care.

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T.T.

answers from Chicago on

My husband and his mother have always had acne issues...until I met him and changed his eating habits and now his acne is rare. A lot of times its the food we eat that affect it. I would try that before using drugs on my child

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A.M.

answers from Chicago on

Why not try pro-active? I have a friend who had a severe case of childhood & adulthood acne. She tried Pro-Active and it worked so well that I also tried it and loved the results. They actually let you try it risk free or your money back. Not to mention it doesnt have any of the severe side effects that some of the other mom's posted. Good Luck with whatever decision you make for your son. I wish they had Pro-Active when I was in high school as it would have saved me from some embarrasing days.

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K.B.

answers from Chicago on

Having suffered from teenage and adult acne for years and taking a slew of antibiotics (and did consider Accutane at one point), it has screwed up my entire GI system.

A few summers ago, two of my children were diagnosed with a dairy intolerance so I joined them in this diet. We've now been dairy free for 3 years (very strict - no butter, cheese crackers, bread which contains milk, etc.) and my cystic acne is gone. If I try any type of milk, I have a hugh cyst the next day. WISH I would have know about this YEARS ago.

No testing required, eliminate dairy from his diet (and be serious about it) for one month. Re-introduce and see if you notice anything.

Also, removed refined sugars, sodas, processed foods, fried foods, etc. There is SO much one can do with diet.

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

One of my son's had persistant severe acne. We tried Proactive, some over the counter products & Differin by prescription. It would improve slightly & then worsen.
I met Toni V (detox coach) through her Holistic Mom's Group posted here on Mamasource. She recognized that his acne was a symptom of yeast overgrowth~google it~& she recommended he take probiotics daily & avoid products with sugar & yeast. The use of antibiotics triggers yeast overgrowth or candida. As a teen you can imagine I could only control what he ate in the house yet within 6 weeks his acne was improved 75%. He continues to take probiotics daily & his skin is getting even clearer.

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J.H.

answers from Chicago on

I used Accutane when I was 21-22 (I am now 32) and it really worked for me. I had cystic acne that no longer responded to antibiotics, Proactiv, antibiotic creams or anything else. It was really a last-ditch effort...I had a very supportive dermatologist, too. When it came down to it, the worst side-effect I had was cracked corners of my mouth and flaky-dryness of mostly only my facial skin (which I actually welcomed since my skin is normally so oily!), in fact I had no oil at all! I didn't notice the depression side-effect and my triglycerides remaimed at a safe level. I survived Accutane and I'm actually better off for using it...but then again my acne was really ruining my life, especially at that age.

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J.H.

answers from Chicago on

Hello! I used accutane when I was in high school and the results were awesome! It cleared up my skin and haven't had any major skin problems since.....I remember (it's been about 14-15 years ago that I took it) that it really dries you out. My lips, skin, eyes got really dry....I know for women they were concerned about pregnancy, so they made you get a pregnancy test every month, as it could have caused birth defects.

I would try it and see how your son does on it.

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J.W.

answers from Chicago on

I am a success story of Acutane; although, it was 17 year ago! I was allergic or sensitive to everything else and was so glad to have something that would work and fast too. I also completed the acne facials and peels that were recommended as part of the treatment plan. I did not have any side effects or problems during my treatment.

J.

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L.H.

answers from Chicago on

As others previously mentioned here, both probiotics and B Complex can really help, as well as alfalfa, which is a natural detoxifier.

A couple of years ago, I'd been seeing a dermo for adult acne with not a lot of success, and he just wanted me to continue taking antibiotics. I chose to switch my facial products and take a supplement route, with great success.

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L.S.

answers from Chicago on

That is an antibiotic and it is horrible for your immune system to live on antibiotics. My son had horrible acne and I had him tested for food allergies...we found out he is highly reactive to high fructose corn syrup and sugar. He now eats hardly any sugar and he has skin as smooth as ever....his skin is beautiful. I would avoid the antibiotics and try a few other route first.

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J.K.

answers from Chicago on

Dear Stephanie,

I am so glad that you wrote this question! I took Accutane 13 years ago when I was 25 years old, and I can honestly say that it was the very best decision I ever made in my entire life. Here's my story -- when I was 13, I started getting acne. I wasn't covered from head to toe, but I would get 5 or 6 large acne cysts in the same places on my face every month. I went to several dermatologists who prescribed all sorts of topical treatments as well as anti-biotics. They didn't really work. The only thing that would work was getting a cyst injected with cortisone. However, I would have to drop everything and go to the doctor for an injection any time I got a cyst ( I don't think its fair to even call these things pimples -- they were deep, hard, red, painful, with no head like a white head would have.) This went on for years. I had read a few articles about Accutane in magazines like 17 and was turned off by the side effects, and my pediatrician who was very conservative was against it for concerns about long term side effects (this was in 1985 so there wasn't a lot of data yet.) So, I didn't take it as a teenager.

When I was 24, I went to see a holistic doctor. He "prescribed" a diet with lots of veggies and NO sugar at all, in combination with various vitamins and herbs and a viatmin A pill every day. (Vitamin A is the main ingredient in Accutane). I did this for two months, and I did see a dramatic improvement in my skin. However, I found his regimen exhausting. There were so many little pills (about 50 each day) that it took me 2 hours a week to count them out and put them in little baggies to take with breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. Frankly, it was ridiculous, so, I started to give up on that. Although this may be a healthier way to go, I don't see how a mother could basically force a teenage son to follow the program I was on. Maybe a really dedicated adult could do it, or maybe I wasn't serious enough about my skin at the time. Anyway, about a year later, I made friends with a woman who was my age and taking Accutane. She told me about her experiences and I was convinced to look into it again. I expressed all my concerns and fears to my dermatologist, who was very understanding and said that if I didn't like the side effects, I could always go off the Accutane before the treament cycle was completed. I was especially concerned about eye dryness since I wear contacts and that is very important to me. Anyway, I took the Accunant for 6 months. Nothing happens for the first 10 days to 2 weeks. Then, for about 2 weeks, I got every pimple and cyst that I ever had or would ever have all at once. That was a bad week, and I was at his office for a lot of cortisone injections. I even had some sty-like things form in the margins of my eyelids from it, which was disgusting. Every morning I would wake up with a forest of blackheads standing up straight from every pore on my nose that had been pushed out from my pores the night before. But then, after the first 4 weeks, my skin started to improve. By 6 weeks in, my skin looked amazing. I did get the dry lips, but they weren't any worse than my lips now thanks to this Chicagoland winter. I got a few small nose-bleeds, but I learned the trick of a little vaseline on a q-tip rubbed up inside my nose at night and it took care of the problem. My skin was very sun-sensitive all during the meds and for about 6 months after it was done, so you would not want to be planning any sort of beach vacation or even time in the sun (no swim team without serious zinc oxide all over or the burns will really hurt and damage your skin.) Also, no alcohol for fear of serious liver damage (this shouldn't be an issue as a teenager, but still...)

I think the biggest issue is really how does your son feel about it? I had become very self-conscious about my acne, and was thinking/obsessing about it more and more. I was a young, single, professional college graduate and I felt that it was ugly/bad/unprofessional/distracting to have pimples and that it was holding me back in my work and social life. Having it just go away and never come back has been wonderful for me. Now, 13 years later, I will get an occasional pimple, but much smaller and not so long-lasting. I didn't get a single pimple for about 8 years after the drug. I understand that there are some people who need to take a second round of Accutane later in life especially if they took it first when they were younger. Your doctor can tell you more about this. I don't think I would want to take it again, even if I felt that the acne was bad, because I don't think I would want my skin or eyes to become any dryer than they are right now.

Good luck helping your son make his decision. I hope this helps (and that it wasn't too much info!)

J.

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D.F.

answers from Chicago on

Hi Stephanie!

Have you tried probiatics?
I try to stay away from any meds! And probitics are wonderful to help your body with getting the toxins out.
If you need more info on organic probiatic supplements contact me.
D.

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V.H.

answers from Chicago on

Hi Stephanie,
Both my brothers had terrible acne and they used pro-active to clear it up. For the first two weeks, their skin got a bit worse but after the two weeks it improved dramatically. One of my brothers also gave up some processed foods to see if that would help. We think it did. He also started eating a higher antioxidant diet. (like more strawberries and other food rich in antioxidants) The other brother was a bit lazier but his skin drastically improved also. As I have gotten older I have found out many others were also using pro active. I hope this can work for your son. You just need to stick through the first couple weeks and really use the products as recommended.
Thanks and good luck. VK

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H.S.

answers from Chicago on

Yes there are physically good results but mentally your son will be damaged. I tried to use this when I was 18 years old and my skin wasn't even severe. I persuaded my dermatologist that I had tried everything out there and she bought it. Well during the 2 months I took this medicine my appearance changed drastically. My lips were pink like I was a burn victim just imagine I am a dark skinned woman. My eyes turned yellow and my mood was very depressing. It happened so fast I told my self that it just wasn't worth it. Not to mention I was paying about $400 dollars out of pocket every month for the pills. Being beauty isn't easy but I do NOT recommend this product. The guy who killed his doctor (Downtown Chicago) maybe 2 years ago was his patient on ACCUtane. There are alot who commit suicide, have internal organ problems, suffer severe depression, and the list goes on and on. Please I saw that it could have easily happened to me. Recommendation for your son: Finacea twice a day this works and is harmless.

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