Changes more than skin deep

It took 20 years but I am finally out of puberty.

What I mean is that I have literally had acne, non-stop, for 20 years.  And babies, those babies, only made it worse.  More than 20 years of dermatologists, creams, lotions, soaps, and medicines.  The problem is that my acne is an inside-out thing.  No cream or lotion could impact the painful, embarrassing cysts.  It has to be treated from the inside.  So I took antibiotics off and on for a decade — for so long, that I have blue-tinged scars on my face from the overuse.

Then this summer, with the impending insurance changes looming, I got fed up.  In my 30s and still worrying about breakouts?  Freaking out when the kids touched my face?  Grimacing at every picture of me looking back with shiny skin?  ENOUGH.

I found a new dermatologist and agreed, finally, to Accutane.  Isotretinoin (Accutane is the well-known brand name) a controversial, highly controlled drug, largely because it causes incredibly severe birth defects.  To take it, you must register with a government system and demonstrate use of TWO forms of birth control.  Then you take pregnancy tests monthly via blood work in a lab, and within a 7 day window after that negative pregnancy test, see your doctor, get the 3o day prescription and fill it.  If you miss that 7 day window, you’re out for 30 days.  I’ve been on the medicine since August and I can honestly say that it has completely changed my life.

My skin is unrecognizable from what it was before.  I feel like I finally have the skin of  “normal” person.  The changes are everywhere.  The small bumps that were always present on my face and chest are gone.  My cysts, which were non-stop prior to the medicine, have slowed and disappeared.  Small breakouts have become more and more isolated.  Over my entire body, my skin is smooth and soft.  The oily shine that I always had, that shows up in every picture, is greatly reduced.  I still have the bluish scars, but compared to what I’ve had in the past, this is an absolute dream.

And then, a surprise.

Something about the medicine has changed my attraction to mosquitoes.  I’ve talked about this before — how mosquitoes swarm me, how I can’t be outside at all after 5pm with dozens of bites even while wearing DEET, how getting 20-30 bites during 5 minutes of weed pulling while no one else is bothered is completely normal.  In the last few weeks, we’ve done several evening picnics in the park with mosquitoes all around — and Paul and I have been shocked to find that I’ve walked away over and over again without bites.  Even more surprising, this last time, Will, Paul, and Kate all got bit.  We are convinced that the medicine, which changes how the body makes and releases oils, has changed whatever mosquitoes found so irresistible about me.

So I write this as a message to anyone with moderate acne and particularly with cysts.  My experience has been fantastic.  While it’s not an easy drug to take, the results have been more than worth it.


Also.   On a related note.  Does anyone have recommendations for a good overnight moisturizer?  And maybe a daytime tinted one?