The Road to Accutane

February 5, 2018

I first heard of Accutane on MTV’s True Life: I Have Acne with its association of curing severe cystic acne. Basically, it’s one hell of a drug that can allegedly cause psychological side effects and birth defects. So, why the hell was my dermatologist prescribing it to me?

In the Summer of 2017, I had yet another flare up of cystic acne. Instead of visiting my dermatologist for a round of antibiotics, I search the internet for blogs, tips, and products I could use to help cure my acne once and for all.

I started using AHA/BHA products such as Clearasil (yep, that stuff from high school), switched my face wash from Cetaphil to Neutrogena, used foundations like Tarte Amazonian Clay to help hide the redness and bumps, and dabbled in Korean skincare products available at Ulta Beauty. Despite my efforts, my acne worsened, and I quickly visited my dermatologist. He immediately asked if I changed any products that could cause a reaction. It turns out, my skin is much for sensitive than I thought and that I should never (NEVER!) deviate from my skincare routine.

My dermatologist prescribed five weeks of doxcycline, an antibiotic, but after five weeks, surprisingly, my acne did not improve. I contacted my dermatologist for an immediate appointment stating that I literally looked like I had leprosy. In his office, I discussed my frustration and wanted to know my next steps. When will it end? I was now 31 years old and utterly fed up with this pre-pubescent bullshit. He informed that the next step would be Accutane. He prescribed another six weeks of antibiotics as well as a prescription for a blood and urine pregnancy test.

Removed makeup to show acne

Acne temporarily hidden with makeup

Due the stigma and side effects of Accutane, it has a strict no-pregnancy policy. Therefore, I would need to complete a urine pregnancy test and then, a month later, complete a blood pregnancy test. I would also need to submit a  monthly blood pregnancy test for any refills. This was all extremely time sensitive; however, my dermatologist informed me that if my acne clears up by the time I’m prescribed Accuntane, then congratulations, I’m not pregnant (gee, thanks).

Before I discuss the end result, I want to highlight that this was an extremely difficult time. I would look at others for their skin, and I was envious of those with perfect complexions. I would dread removing my makeup at night and sob over the pain of another cystic pimple emerging. My skin was red, inflamed, and scarred. So much so that a friend pulled me aside to ask what was happening. 

The second round of antibiotics began to take affect. The emergence of new cystic pimples where few and far between, but the scars took almost 6 months to fade. I also missed my appointment for my dermatologist to prescribe Accutane due to Hurricane Irma. Nevertheless, I am happy to report that I am, indeed, not pregnant.

Oh, and my acne has cleared


No filter and no makeup










I continue to visit my dermatologist in order to document my progress or regress. I encourage anyone who is suffering from cystic acne to visit a dermatologist, never deviate from your skincare routine, and trust the medicine.

Below, I note my skincare routine for cystic acne. These products worked for me but may not work for you. Also, now that my acne has cleared, I sparingly use the prescribed creams.

  • Weekly Routine
    • Mask: Honey (Organic; Manuka)

I wish you the best of luck in your cystic acne journey. Continue to support and encourage others to seek treatment!

Until next time!

Photo by Michael Coury on Unsplash

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