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What to Use on Roaccutane

Acne is something which many of us will struggle with during our lifetimes. For some of us, the teenage years might be the acne-filled ones, but for others, issues might linger into our twenties, thirties, and beyond (joy). 

Hormonal change like that which is brought on by pregnancy can even prompt acne - even if you’ve never experienced it before! 

Acne manifests itself in the form of breakouts on your face, back, or even chest. Technically, any sort of spot, from skin-coloured bumps to cysts, count as acne. However, when it comes to the conversation about medication, generally we define acne as a condition which is persistent, chronic, and resistant to usual forms of treatment. 

When traditional skincare ingredients and treatments don’t work, it’s always advisable to go to your GP or dermatologist for specialist advice. They might prescribe a combined oral contraceptive (if you’re eligible to take one), an antibiotic specifically formulated for acne, or, if all else fails to work, Isotretinoin - known as Roaccutane in Ireland, Accutane in plenty of other countries.

Roaccutane gets a bit of a bad rap as far as medications go, with a wide array of often mentioned side effects, but it must be noted that suffering from acne has its own effects on well being and psyche.

We’ve been speaking to Dr. Olga O’Driscoll about Roaccutane, and acne treatments. She explains it like this:

“Roaccutane is an effective oral medication used in severe acne which has failed to respond to first and second line treatments including topical retinoids, topical and oral antibiotics, or the contraceptive pill. It is an oral retinoid- a derivative of Vitamin A and part of the same family as retinol. 

Roaccutane reduces sebum production in the sebaceous gland, as well as reducing the numbers of acne-causing bacteria on the skin, and acting as an anti-inflammatory... a remarkable 3-pronged approach! 

It must be prescribed by a specialist dermatologist. While it can be extremely effective, it requires careful patient selection and careful monitoring of side-effects.”

Roaccutane is a strong drug, and not one which is taken lightly, but the effects can be truly incredible. You can check out Sofia Grahn, posting on Instagram as isotretinoinwiths, whose posts show the reality of dealing with both severe acne and isotretinoin. Another great account is Oonagh’s Skin Blog, which also follows Oonagh’s journey with Roaccutane. 

How Does Roaccutane Work? 

As Dr. Olga tells us, Roaccutane works by reducing sebum production in the sebaceous gland, as well as reducing the numbers of acne-causing bacteria on the skin, and bringing down inflammation.

As a side effect of this, hoomans on Roaccutane can find that their skin becomes extremely dry and sensitive, which can lead to nosebleeds, cracked lips, and peeling skin. Let’s be honest - not ideal at all. 

Things To Consider On Roaccutane

Roaccutane can be very effective, but it causes severe birth defects. In Ireland, women must use two forms of contraception before being prescribed the drug, which is something to bear in mind. It’s completely unsuitable for consumption during pregnancy - it’s written in bold letters even on the blister packet of tablets!

Roaccutane is metabolised by the liver. This means that it is not recommended to drink alcohol during the course of your treatment, as doing so can overload your liver and cause liver dysfunction.

Your skin will be extra-sensitive and dry, and a lot more photosensitive than usual, so a high factor broad-spectrum SPF is key. Roaccutane-skin might undergo a breakout to begin with, but managing the intense dryness is the great challenge of a course of the drug which lasts 4-5 months in general. 

Keeping skin hydrated is the great challenge of Roaccutane, which is why we’ve made a little list of our Hail Mary products for Roaccutane. I (Aoife, of Team Nerd) am currently just starting my Roaccu-journey, so these are also some of my picks at the moment, as advised by the Nerdie Team!

Roaccutane Products

Skingredients PreProbiotic Cleanse - €25

Roaccu-skin stings pretty badly, and can’t tolerate salicylic acid, which is the oil and congestion-prone hooman’s usual go-to. PreProbiotic Cleanse is gentle enough to keep skin calm and clean, with balancing probiotics to give the skin’s microbiome a hand.

It’s a big deal to find something which doesn’t make you wince when you apply it to your skin, particularly as cleansing is such a physical act that your sensitive Roaccu-skin can often be angered by the motion - but this is creamy and gentle, and doesn’t cause irritation. 

IMAGE Ormedic Balancing Antioxidant Serum - €71

This balancing serum is very gentle, and is absolutely crammed with antioxidants, and sodium hyaluronate, too. 

This means that it draws moisture to the surface of your skin, and is extremely hydrating, and soothing too. Keeping moisture levels high is a big concern during treatment, so this is a great choice. And although we don’t shout about it - it smells just like a beautiful forest, and that’s never a bad thing. 

Skingredients Skin Good Fats - €42

For skin which is a bit dejected, sad, and sore, Skin Good Fats is like a big huge hug, delivered on demand and in a cute yellow tub. We’ve had hoomans who are taking Roacctuane message us to tell us that Good Fats is the only thing which has soothed their skin during treatment, which is lovely to hear. 

It’s got the patented ingredient ceramide NP which can help to soothe and repair your skin barrier, as well as anti-irritant ingredients and shea butter glycerides, all of which soothe and help your skin.

You might generally skip moisturiser if you’re extremely prone to oil, but Skin Good Fats might be the ideal addition to your skincare routine on Roaccutane. 

Skingredients Skin Shield SPF 50 PA+++ - €42

Your skin will become even more photosensitive during your course of treatment on Roaccutane, and so it’s best to go for a high factor SPF. Skingredients Skin Shield SPF 50 PA+++ is a broad spectrum SPF, lightly peach tinted, just enough to give you a base and keep that SPF pallor away. 

You might find that you don’t like wearing makeup during your treatment, as cosmetic makeup will not sit comfortably on your skin - this is a great option as a primer or by itself. It prevents photo flashback, and is lightly moisturising, too. 

IMAGE Ormedic Sheer Pink Lip Enhancement Complex - €25

Your lips will most likely become very dry and cracked during treatment - that’s the effect of your skin drying up, unfortunately. This lip balm has a very sheer pink tint, and contains ubiquinone AKA Co-Enzyme Q10, which is a super potent antioxidant. It’s super moisturising and also gives you a little zip of glamour - important when you’re taking Roaccutane! Ideal for going out - as lipstick can feel pretty uncomfortable later on in your course of treatment. 

ASAP Skincare Hydrating Lip Balm - €15

This lip balm has SPF 15, which is super important when on a course of Roaccutane. It’s also full of antioxidant protection - but another great thing about this one in particular is that it contains alpine rose. This is an ingredient which can help to protect lips from cold-sores - which is often an unfortunate side-effect of Roaccutane, so this can work wonders. 

Mama Mio Nipple Balm - €15

A secret tip - this stuff works a TREAT on lips. It contains a blend of medical-grade lanolin, organic Shea Butter, and organic coconut and olive oils. Smooth it onto your lips to instantly soothe cracked, dry, or complaining lips. It’s a lifesaver, and at 30mls, it’s a lot of bang for your buck.

Roaccutane can be a trial, but the results can be truly stunning. It’s really important to look after your skin and yourself while you’re on it, though. If you’re about to begin a course of Roaccutane, make sure that you get in touch with your Nerd or Nerdette, as they will be able t o suggest a course of skincare to support you during your treatment - one tailored just to you.