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Monday, August 13, 2012

Teens, Acne & Accutane...

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It's long been a noted teen rite of passage that a little acne at times throughout the teen years is normal. The drugstores shelves are loaded with products designed to combat this common teen problem and there is also an expensive acne "treatment' peddled by celebrities on tv. They all promise cleaner and clearer skin...all you have to do is shell out the dough to buy the stuff. We tried all of them and spent hundreds of dollars on a drawer full of products. In the end....they just weren't helping. Today I am going to share our story of our journey with this teen issue.

Let me give you a bit of history. My daughter has always had beautiful skin with hardly any acne that was noticeable. Then last fall, something changed...either hormones or the stress of high school  or some factor unknown to us. Her forehead became an angry hotbed of acne. She became increasingly upset about this and our response was to spend more money on more products and her nighttime skin regime kept getting longer and more frustrating as she was not getting the results she hoped for. 

She started asking me if she could go see a Dermatologist. I didn't think it was necessary at first because I didn't think it was that bad, or I was just in denial. Then she started doing her own research online and she came to me asking about Accutane. I was so reluctant to entertain this idea because I had heard about the side effects of Accutane....extremely hard on the liver, and a reported increase in suicide among teens. Scary, right?

After looking at her forehead after a shower one day, and noticing that the acne was starting to spread down the sides of her cheeks, I became more concerned,  and I decided to make an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss our options for handling this. We went to the appointment and spent an hour with the dermatologist as he examined her skin and went over possible courses of treatment. Just by looking at Hunter's face, he didn't think her acne was bad until he lifted  up her bangs....and then he agreed that there was some serious acne that needed treatment. He suggested a low dose course of Accutane for a number of months.As soon as I expressed my reluctance to try Accutane, big tears started sliding down my daughter's cheeks and she looked at me with those blue eyes and said softly, "Mom, I 've had enough." I truly felt heart-wrenching  pain for her and I immediately had a complete change of heart. If the Dermatologist recommended Accutane as a course of treatment, then we were going to give it a try. After all, if I could prevent my daughter from living a lifetime with scars on her face, why wouldn't I do everything in my power to make that happen? My husband was totally supportive of my decision.

The dermotologist  explained to us that when Accutane first came on the market in the early 1980s, it was considered a 'miracle drug' because it  worked for patients with hard-to-treat face & body acne. It works by shutting down the oils glands in the body...which is the source of the acne cycle. In doing this, it also lowers serotonin levels...the body's feel-good hormone. Other side effects include extreme dryness as a result of shutting down the body's oil glands....especially around the lips and mouth, as well as affecting the liver. And staying out of the sun while taking Accutance is a must. He explained to us the need for a once-a-month blood test to monitor the liver function and a monthly visit to his office to monitor progress. He also suggested some gentle cleansers Hunter could use on her face while being treated. as well as moisturizing products to combat the dryness. We left his office feeling hopeful...and with a prescription for a low dose Accutane treatment. We stopped at a drugstore on the way home to have it filled and to pick up a gentle cleanser and some of the moisturizers that  the Derm had suggested.

Hunter started taking Accutane that day and within a month, we noticed a difference. When we went back for the 1 month appointment, the dermatologist agreed the treatment was working and advised her to continue. Hunter found that basic Vaseline worked on her lips to combat dryness and used it several times a day. I bought her a large jar of Vaseline for at home and a smaller sample size tube for her school bag. I took her for her monthly bloodwork and the liver function was fine.The Accutane continued to slowly work and by the 2 month appointment, Hunter had started wearing her bangs off of her forehead at home.

As I shared our Accutane treatment with a few girlfriends, I heard stories  that I had never heard before.One girlfriend told me that Accutane had "saved her life!". She had taken it when she was 17 to treat acne that she described as "horrible" and it had cleared her skin completely. Another girlfriend told me how her nephew had taken Accutane as a teen to treat severe back acne and she would not hesitate to use it for her son if he got bad acne during his teen years.

I  have to honestly say that we struggled with Hunter's emotions at times.She seemed to be more sensitive then usual...but we knew it would be a short-term situation for long-term benefits.Every week that passed was a week closer to the end of treatment and  the end of acne {hopefully}.

We are now at the 5 month mark and  Hunter has finally crossed the 'finish line' of treatment. We are relieved that the course of treatment is over, but mostly we are SO happy that our daughter can choose to wear whatever hairstyle she likes because she has nothing to hide! Oh Happy Day!
Although this is our experience with choosing Accutane as a treatment plan, I know every parent has the right to choose a course of action that works best for their child and their situation. Looking back, I really regret not taking her to see a Dermatologist sooner, in fact, I could kick myself. No one in my family or circle of friends had shared any experience with Accutane before, and I was left  initially feeling very alone on this path. But as I shared this story with  some best girlfriends and learned of how it had changed people's lives, I am so glad that we tackled this problem straight on as we did. It was the right thing to do...especially when I see my daughter's beautiful, confident smile.








 

22 comments:

Courtenay@Creek Line House said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! My daughter's only 7, but I've started worrying about what we're going to do when she becomes a teenager. With genetics, she's almost certain to have skin problems, and it's good to hear how you've dealt with it. I wouldn't want my daughter to have to go through that either!

Mrs.Marie Lester said...

she's beautiful! she's lucky to have such wonderful parents acne can be such a miserable thing for a teenager

Meg said...

We have just begun to deal with acne trouble around here - my oldest, Elliott is having skin trouble and he's only 11! First, we tried some typical treatments from the drugstore with no success. We just got him some Proactiv this weekend and are already noticing an improvement. He seems so young to be having trouble already!
Hunter is a beautiful girl and I'm glad her treatment is working for her.

Sandy said...

Angie, when I was a late teen I started accutane. It was horrible. It was so bad that I wouldn't even try for Princess Port Williams since I would not have my pic in the paper. I stare at my Acadia ID and I wonder how I ever left the house. It was a very high dose - 90 mg/day. The results were dramatic. In fact, one friend said it was a knife had scraped off all the acne and left a normal face. I don't remember any side effects, except for a little dryness and MUCH HAPPINESS. I took it for a couple of years. Everything was fine until I became pregnant. Hormones, I guess. It came back with a vengeance and didn't go away on it's own. Back to my Derm (who I love to this day) - he was so kind and understanding and encouraging - and he put me back on accutane. However, this time at a very low dose. He explained that years of research had determined that the drug was more effective at a smaller dose over a longer term. Once everything had cleared up again he weaned me down to the bare minimum needed to maintain my skin - 30mg/week, practically homeopathic, with a yearly blood test. Whenever I get compliments on my skin I always say it is medically-maintained to tell people there is help and not to be afraid of the drug. It changed my life. I didn't have to put on a "brave face" anymore, I could just show my own :) My Derm passed away last summer unexpectedly and I was devastated. He was a gentle man who somehow knew how important it was to me, even when everyone else said "it's fine".

Bronwyn said...

Hunter looks so proud of her beautiful skin. I, too, am a former Accutane patient. I had horrible back acne and this amazing drug cleared it up in 5 months when I was 16 years old. And you know what? I never had issues with pimples for the rest of my teenage years.

Jourdan Hansen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jourdan Hansen said...

I am glad you got it figured out! Your daughter is a gorgeous girl! One thing that I really recommend to people that have acne and/or blackheads is called The Stripper! It's a facial mud that pulls all of the toxins and free radicals out of your skin. It's not just for the face either; it can be used anywhere. It has helped my face as well as my brother, cousin and so many others face clear right up! Plus it lasts for a really long time and it's also completely natural. There is also a bar of soap called Gender Bender that is part of the detox line as well and it's great to clean your whole body with to get rid of all the nasties! You can find all of that and more on my website.. www.perfectlyposh.us/jourdan.. I hope you don't mind that I shared that! I wasn't intending to type a novel on it lol.

*Jourdan
www.twomillionmiles.wordpress.com


frances said...

My son had the same problem a year ago spring when he turned 16. He went from perfectly clear skin to cystic acne on his face, back and chest. I could not believe the change almost overnight.
He too went on the internet and looked up Acutane.
6 months of treatment..it took about 4 months to see some significant improvement. and by 6 months he had pretty much returned to normal.
The course stopped in 'dec of last year and I still see improvement in his skin all the time.
Glad your daughter has cleared up.
In this day and age kids should not have to suffer from something this easily treated.
My boy had no moodyness and was just happy that his face and body was getting better.
Cheers Frances

Tanya from Dans le Townhouse said...

It's SO great you shared this story for other teens/parents. I had acne as a teen and sought treatment. I still use the contraceptive prescribed to treat it but my skin is not perfect still. But good enough. I might have tried something stronger if I had known more people who used it.

Annette said...

I think it is great that you have had success with the drug. However, I would like to point out that it has a black box warning and parents should do the research to make sure they are comfortable with the side effects. I know of people who had great luck with the drug but not the side effects namely depression, etc. that did not show up right away. My oldest has also been to the dermatologist and there are other drug solutions to consider that will work for people too.

Morgan said...

Your daughter is beautiful! I'm glad she had such success with Accutane. I have suffered with acne since my teens. Even after going to the dermatologist, I still suffered with it. I finally got it under control about 2 years ago, but I'm still treating it. It's a painful road, but I'm grateful that my journey with acne too is coming to an end.

Joyce said...

Your daughter is beautiful! Touch wood, we havent hit that stage yet ( although mr almost 15 does wash his face every day), but will keep that info for later!

Tonna @ Navy Wifey Peters/USS Crafty said...

I'm glad Accutane worked for your daughter! She's beautiful. My mom tried Accutane, and of course she is much older than your daughter. It worked for her for a little while, but then she had to stop taking it, and her acne came back. She wants to ask her doctor to prescribe it to her again.

Teresa said...

So glad you found accutane. I am a former accutane user. I had cystic acne all of my high school yrs and my family could not affprd a dermotologist. In the 80s, I found a dermie who was a wonderful man and suggested the treatment. It was for 6 months. It was a miracle to me. Once again in a few months before my wedding, I had an outbreak and returned for a 2 month cycle. Praise God, it worked again and it has been 23 yrs since I've had skin issues. Hunter is beautiful and I know this has helped her self esteem - you are a smart mom.

חתולי8 said...

well, i'm to lazy to read that (its english you know... takes more time...)but i knoe this medication. i just to say that your daughter is so beautiful!
Lior :)

חתולי8 said...

sorry for the typing mistakes....

well, i'm to lazy to read that (its english you know... takes more time...)but i know this medication. i just want to say that your daughter is so beautiful!
Lior :)

toffelnigar said...
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Amelia said...

I’m looking towards that which you ought to share. acne severe treatment.Pleased to see you blogging once again.

Alaina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lesa Mitchell said...
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Top Rated Blogs in North America said...

I am glad it helped. I shared your post here: http://homeandsocietycommunity.blogspot.com/2013/06/echoes-of-laughter-teens-acne-accutane.html

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your story. My 16 daughter has struggled with acne for several years. What started out as just a little "teen acne" has progressively gotten worse. We have seen a dermatologist and have tried various treatment but none have worked. We are ready to try Accutane and I am still a bit nervous. I worry about the side effects but I also worry about long term scarring from the acne. Your daughter is beautiful and thanks again for sharing your story.

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