Life After Roaccutane: 4 Women On Learning To Accept Their Acne

Research shows that adult acne affects women at higher rates than men – a difference dermatologists believe likely exists because menstruating women are subject to much more complex hormonal patterns.
 
From oral antibiotics and contraceptive pills to topical creams, women who deal with breakouts often exhaust a number of treatment avenues before they set their sights on isotretinoin (aka Roaccutane). It is a drug that combats acne by inhibiting the body's production of sebum (an oily substance produced by skin) and keratin (outer scales of skin that block hair follicles). Because Roaccutane comes with a long list of potential side effects, including dry skin, headaches and general aches and pains, dermatologists often consider it a 'last resort'.
 
Even so, the drug isn't guaranteed to make your acne go away forever – something I learned the hard way. After I started taking Roaccutane, my skin had never looked clearer and I felt confident for the first time in years. That all changed the summer after I finished my first course, when my acne came back with a vengeance. My experience isn't exactly rare: studies suggest that relapse rates in Roaccutane patients can range from 10-60% depending on a number of factors.
According to Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin 55, underlying hormonal conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), age, individual metabolism, dosage, drug absorption and family history may all have a role to play. Her advice? "Find yourself a friendly, approachable consultant dermatologist and treat your acne as early as possible before scarring sets in." Dr Mahto adds: "Look after your skin and remain on topical retinoid therapy between courses." Retinoid skincare products, such as adapalene or Differin, can be prescribed by a GP (this can also be done online) or a qualified dermatologist if you'd prefer private treatment. Dr Mahto continues: "Try and find acceptance that acne may indeed be a chronic, long-term issue for you and learn to enjoy the good periods – your acne does not define who you are or what you are capable of achieving."
 
Ahead, four women who have experienced post-Roaccutane relapses share their experiences on the drug, and how they are now learning to both manage and accept their acne.

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