The Pleasures of Being on Accutane

Unofficial Logo by Benjamin Jensen

Unofficial Logo by Benjamin Jensen

Alexa McClain, Journalist

In the month of August, my dermatologist put me on Accutane. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s an extremely harsh medication that ruins your life for about six to eight months. Let me clarify though; once this six to eight months is over, it’s very worth it. 


I am someone who struggles with pretty bad acne. It started in sixth grade and only progressed from there. My acne allowed me to feel self conscious and made it very hard for me to be confident in myself… It made it hard for me to be confident in my skin. Little did I know, being on Accutane would magnify every issue that I had before plus add some more insecurities. Accutane is one of those medications that makes everything worse before it gets better. Here are some of my favorite symptoms of this medication. 


Number 1: Flakey Skin 

Before, when I wasn’t on anything for my acne, I was able to simply cover up any blemishes with some makeup. With Accutane, NOT POSSIBLE! The skin on my face had turned into some freak show! Well, for the first few months at least. I literally had to carry a giant bottle of face lotion with me at all times that way every thirty minutes I could moisturize. Yeah, that was awkward. Just imagine singing music in choir and then all of a sudden, very clearly, pausing  to bend over and grab the moisturizer in your bag because your face felt intensely uncomfortable. You have now distracted everyone and thrown everything off. 


What’s even better about having flakey skin is that when you are engaged in conversation with someone, they don’t look you in the eyes. They are far too busy trying to figure out why your face is the color of a baboon’s butt and why its texture is like the skin of an onion. That’s when I have to interrupt every discussion to justify the grossness. “Yeah by the way, my face looks like this because I’m on Accutane.” Yeah, that gets old.


Number 2: Bloody Noses 

One of the more common symptoms of being on Accutane includes getting bloody noses. It’s because this medication makes you really dry. Some people experience getting them lightly while others get them to the extreme and frequently. I would be the one to get them to the extreme and frequently. I typically get them in the middle of the night which is my favorite because then I receive almost no sleep. Also, sometimes I wake up in the morning with some blood stains on my pillow cases. My mom really appreciates that step in the process. A lot of the time, I get like two or three during the night. 


To prevent this flowing issue of mine, I have to put Aquaphor or Vaseline on a q-tip and stick it up my nose. One time my friend even got a video of  me shoving some up my nose at school. Don’t judge me! I had no choice! It was either that or bleeding all over the place.



Dermatologists who prescribe Accutane stress to every patient how important it is to drink lots of water. I was told that I needed to drink my bodyweight in ounces. For me, that would be about 105-110 ounces of water a day. You know what that means? Lots and lots of pee breaks. I am using the restroom between every two classes and about two times in the middle of the night.


 Over winter break, my family and I went to Universal Studios and Six Flags, and with all of those long lines, well, let’s just say that those were tough times. After every single ride my whole family was delayed because I needed a potty break. Having a huge family with nothing but sisters allowed for much name calling to be thrown my way. 


Number 4: Hair Loss 

After two months of this, I started to realize how much hair I was losing. They told me that it was rare for this to happen but that it was definitely possible. It’s really nothing too bad but enough to clog my shower drain quite frequently. My dad isn’t too fond of this side effect given that he is designated shower drain cleaner. It’s also pretty terrible when I have to brush my hair. Hair. Gets. Everywhere! I feel as though I am constantly vacuuming up my strands of hair. I can feel my hair thinning and it’s strange since I am used to fairly thick hair. It was said to me, though, that once I’m all finished up, my hair will progressively get back to normal. 


Number 5: Chapped Lips 

This one is the one that really bugs me. I know it must sound weird that this is the one that drives me so crazy, but it’s just so annoying! First of all, I have to put on Chapstick every five seconds. It just gets in the way of everything that I am doing. Second of all, I can’t just use any Chapstick. It has to specifically be Carmex Chapstick. I don’t know why, but I have just always applied the yellow tubed Chapstick with my finger. So when I began Accutane, I not only had to moisturize my lips every five seconds but I also began moisturizing my right index finger every five seconds.  


So do all of these things totally suck? Yes. But is that going to stop me from achieving perfectly smooth skin? Never! Though it’s difficult going through everyday having a changed and fixed routine, I know that when it’s over with, and when I get my braces off, the glow up will be grand! So I hope that I didn’t discourage anyone who was maybe thinking about starting this medication from doing it because I really have been noticing a huge difference in my skin. With that being said, the harsh medication that terrorizes my daily life will one day be worth all the pain that I’m going through. I’ll be looking as good, if not better than Beyoncé herself.  



Not all people will go through the same side effects. I am fortunate that I have had what I consider mild side effects. 


On a serious note, some people who use Accutane experience/enhance feelings of anxiety and/or depression. In some extreme cases, some people also experienced suicidal thoughts. These are important considerations before starting this medication. All decisions should be made with the guidance of parents and a doctor.

Before and after usage of Accutane