I Blogged Myself

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Friday, March 09, 2007

A Prickly Pimply Issue


Hi, I'm < INSERT NAME HERE >. I was reading about acne on the internet and i ran across you web site. I saw that you were put on Accutain. I went to the doctor today because i am tired of the acne on my chest and face so i am willing to do what ever it takes, but is it really worth it? Your article scared me and i don't know if i should try it. Please e mail me back i'd love to hear what you have to say about it.



Thanks for your email. I'm not sure which of these particular posts you're talking about (listed here in chronological order), but yes, I was a regular taker of Roaccutane in my teenage years.




I ain't no doctor, but I know that everyone who takes the drug seems to experience different side effects in different ways and to different levels (either in the extreme or in quite a minor way). I've heard of Roaccutane takers having little or no side effects, but (in MY day, at least - which was 1991 to 1993) the majority seemed to have quite strong responses to the drug.

Personally, my experience was shockingly bad - and as my blog states, I had severely cracked and sore lips (they looked like a leper's lips, continually peeling and with broken skin sticking off them at all times), daily nose bleeds (sometimes two or three a day and generally long-lasting when they came), an extra sensitivity to sunlight (which continues to this day), and premature baldness (this set in about six years later, when I was at uni, and refers to 'crows feet' and a bald patch on the back of my head - the normal spots for baldness to set in, but generally not when you're 25). Thankfully it's 'popular' these days to shave your head, so this isn't as bad as it might have been twenty years ago (although sometimes I think it'd be nice to have a full head of hair again!).

However, I had really bad cystic acne, which presented as large welts of pus and blood. They were very painful, and about the size of an Australian fifty-cent piece. I'm not sure what part of the world you're from, so if that description is lost on you, I'm talking about welts that were 4cm or 1.5 inches in diameter. They were all over my back, chest, and the back of my neck (up into my hairline at the back of my head). They were extremely painful and would pop (oozing and aching) at random times or when my clothing or another person brushed or pushed against them too hard.

So when you look at it like that, I certainly NEEDED to take Roaccutane. The pock-marks I have on my skin (my shoulder blades, chest and the back of my neck in particular) from where these cysts were popped and left permanent craters on me are testiment to the fact that I had a really shocking case of acne as a teenager, so I know that if I HADN'T taken Roaccutane (as humiliating, ostracising and degrading as the side effects were), my appearance now would be much worse than it is.

I guess what I'm saying is it depends on how bad your acne is. If it's really bad and bothers you, you don't want it to stick around for life (or even just for a few years, where it'll continue to ravage your face and chest - as it sounds like it's already been doing). And the side effects might not be too bad for you. Also, I presume that in the 14 years since I stopped taking the stuff, presumably it has been improved upon by the makers of the product.

Bear the 'horror stories' in mind, certainly - but weigh it up against your feelings concerning the acne.

And above all else, remember that your appearance (whether the temporary one while you're on the stuff, or your permanent one after you finish taking it) is only skin-deep. It doesn't have to determine who you are or anything.

It took me a few years to work that out, so my strongest recommendation to you would be to surround yourself with people who love you no matter WHAT you look like, and when the self-doubt moments come, make sure you listen to them saying it doesn't matter and you'll get through it, etc.

It was the 'shame' that got to me the most - and I shouldn't have let it.

Anyway, I don't want to influence your decision either way, but whatever you choose to do, just try to be happy with yourself as a whole person ... and not just as the external 'shell' others see on the outside.

I hope I was of some help / comfort / encouragement / something! :)



Thank you so much for your reply. I believe you had a more severe case than i do, i have maybe 20 welts on my chest and it still just makes me very self conscience. I actually went to the tanning bed the other day and it actually cleared it up. I don't live near a beach or anything like that, I'm actually from Tennessee. I think i am going to continue to go to the tanning bed and soak in some more rays and hopefully get it all cleared up before I go on Spring Break. I don't know if I am willing to take the risk of using roaccutane and face the side-effects. Thanks again BEVIS!!




At Sunday, March 11, 2007 9:57:00 am, Blogger Javatari said...

I too took roaccutane and had dry, but not bleeding lips, blood noses and the strange compulsion to tear my clothes off and run around naked. Although the last symptom may have just been because I'm strange.

At Monday, March 12, 2007 12:17:00 pm, Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Lucky for that person the tanning bed helped out. Like you said, the drug affects everyone differently. I have seen great results with that drug, and I have seen some negative side effects also.
You hit the nail on the head with the self esteem issue.

At Monday, March 12, 2007 7:22:00 pm, Blogger DelightfulJen said...

I can't think of anything worse than terrible acne, I feel so sorry for anyone who has to live through it, and it normally always begins at the most painfully awkward, self conscious time of your life, very unfair.

I know a few people who've taken Roaccutane with varying side effects - flakes of skin shedding constantly, cracked and bleeding lips. It's really sad that a product that is essentially the only choice for chronic acne is so harsh.

It's interesting that your email buddy got results from a tanning bed, I had fairly dry skin and some eczema and a solarium helped SO much more than any of the creams I'd used. Very curious.

At Wednesday, March 14, 2007 2:51:00 pm, Blogger MelbourneGirl said...

this is why i love you, bevis. you really want to help people and you're willing to fess up to issues you've had yourself.

but a word of caution to (insert name here) about the tanning beds. my dad had acne as a teenager, and way back then they used sunlamps as treatment.

now he gets lots and lots of sun cancers - not malignant and early stage type ones that they cut out or dry ice. not pleasant. he reckons it was the lamps because he's got fair skin and has always been careful in the sun, hats, shade etc.

but good luck. it's a really debilitating condition.

At Thursday, March 15, 2007 3:58:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

Cazzie, welcome! The self-esteem thing is pretty big aspect of it, isn’t it. It’s a shame that it is, but it is. If the tanning bed really does help < INSERT NAME HERE >, then good luck to them.

DelightfulJen, I believe the drug works by almost completely cutting off the flow of ‘liquids’ (apart from blood, obviously – which it thins considerably) from reaching the extremities. Or something like that. So grease and oil (and in my case, whatever forms those painful and obscene volcanic mounds of pus that formed the cystic acne I had) are disrupted from travelling to the head and shoulders in particular. Unfortunately this also means that the very necessary oils and liquids in the body do not reach the arms, legs and head either, meaning that different people develop hair loss, dermatitis, tinea, dry and cracked lips, more delicate blood vessels in the nose, and so on. It also explains why the skin becomes so susceptible to burning and developing skin cancer. I don’t think that’s an official description of what goes on, but as far as laymen’s terms go, I reckon it’s a pretty apt picture I’ve painted. It helped me understand what was happening to me and why ... and I think it’d help others get the right idea, too. Even if it’s not scientifically accurate.

MelbourneGirl, why thank you! *blushes* I think of it this way: If I’m going to go through all the pain and suffering, I might as well turn it into something positive ... like using my experiences to help others avoid them, or (at the very least) be better prepared for them than I was. I also agree with your advice to < INSERT NAME HERE > about the tanning beds. That’s a good word of caution, thanks. I’ll alert them to this post again and say that a couple of people have added some new words of warning.

Thank you all for your comments!

At Thursday, March 15, 2007 4:01:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

G'day Bevis,

Just a quick note to say I enjoyed reading your blog. would like to give it a shout out on my site, and add it to my links as well.

I really enjoyed the entry on the Acne as a couple of us in our family had issues with acne although I was lucky and never
had a sever case. But a cousin of mine use to use Roaccutane when we were in our teens living in New Zealand, and he the sides effects he had nose bleeds every now and then. They wanted to put me on Roaccutane as well but I resisted not sure why since I was only 15/16 yrs at the time heheeh. My acne now though has left a mark across my back pretty hard to miss lol, but I manage to keep my acne under control now with just a facial cleanser, but notice if i stop for any longer than a couple of weeks the acne comes back. Nway enough of the acne story just wanted to say its great how you helped that guy out with abit of advice.


At Thursday, March 15, 2007 4:02:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

Thanks Anonymous! You may certainly link my blog on yours if you like. I'm glad my words may have been an encouragement and/or rung some bells for you. :)

At Sunday, March 18, 2007 6:45:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Bevis and friends, I am the the guy from Tennessee who sent Bevis the email reguarding Roaccutane. I just wanted to thank Bevis for his help and everyone else's help about Roaccutane. Luckily I have been doing alot of scrubbing and tanning and my acne has cleared up big time. I was always really scared to take my shirt off when I would go swimming with my friends, but now its not even a big deal. Believe it or not everyone, the tanning bed really did help clear all my acne.I thought of my self as a "Girly Man" by going to the bed, but I knew I had to get rid of my acne. I wasn't ready to try Roaccutane and face the flakey skin, nose bleeds, and all the other things. But anyways thank you everyone for the feedback and im happy to report that its clearing up. I leave to go to the Dominican Republic on Monday and I am actually looking foward to taking my shirt off, I never thought I would say that!!


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