Active Ingredients: Isotretinoin
+ free Accutane pill.
Subsisting largely off coffee and Chipotle burritos, I answered hundreds of practice exam questions every day as if my life depended on it—and it did.
Having taken a leap of faith six years earlier to pursue a career in medicine, I felt like the PANCE was more than a certification exam: it was symbolic, a validation of all that I had worked so hard for.
The good news is, I passed.
The bad new is, my skin had suffered from the enormous stress of this time. If a photo can say a thousand words, my face in photos from this period is silently crying out for help. It seemed like within hours of taking my first 40 mg capsule, I was reaching for a sample-sized tube of Aquaphor ointment I had snagged from the office.
If I even lightly rubbed my face, I could expect a mini snow shower of dead skin flakes. Thanks, Spring Street Dermatology sample closet!
Confession: I was not diligent about sunscreen. Most of my Accutane course took place over the winter, when I rarely saw the sun for more than 10 minutes.
And with a beard still in place—because shaving was out of the question—every sunscreen I tried would not absorb and seemed only to add a patchy, sticky layer of white to my beard hairs.
And so, red face it was. A few patients asked me if I had rosacea. This should have been expected, having talked with hundreds of Accutane patients at the practice.
There should be a framed cross-stitch of this in every dermatology exam room in America. I might market that.
It could only get better, and I relaxed into that certainty, despite some rather gnarly eruptions. My dose had been increased to 40 mg twice a day, where I would stay for the remainder of my course.
How long does it take to work?
How long will treatment last? A treatment course of isotretinoin capsules usually lasts for 16 to 24 weeks around 4 to 6 months. Acne will normally keep improving for up to 8 weeks after stopping treatment.
Most people have clear skin after that time, but a few will need another round of treatment. Are there other acne treatments?