As you may know, dom is back on isotretinoin and faithfully documenting her journey in her Adult Acne Diaries.

Well, as it turns out, I will be joining her on an adult acne experience of my own.

I first took isotretinoin as an undergraduate student in Paris in 2008. It was a six-month course of medication that changed my appearance completely. I was very happy with the result and resolved to never let myself go back to the old days of pain and frustration.

Fast-forward to the present: my skin has begun exhibiting serious signs of returning to its previous state. I know that my skin reacts quite markedly to stress factors, and the last 12 months have been the busiest and most stressed I’ve been in a very long time. In response, cystic acne has made a major resurgence around my hairline and jawline. My cheeks are now quite congested, with comedones starting at the cheekbone and charging south towards the chin.

I will say here that the current state of my skin differs dramatically from the state of my skin in 2008. Back then, the acne was mainly cystic with very few comedones, pustules, whiteheads and blackheads in the mix. This time, there’s far more variation in the type of acne I’m seeing. As I told dom, it feels like I went through all the classic hallmarks of adult acne as a teenager and am now going through the confusion of teenage acne as an adult.

Also, even as a teenager, when my acne was at its absolute nightmarish worst, I did not have breakouts on my back. However, the past several months have seen a surge of angry comedones from across the back of my shoulders extending to mid-back – and worst and most painful of all, a smattering of cystic acne plaguing my mid- to lower back region.

Further reading and online research informed me that recurrence is common in many cases of isotretinoin takers. My doctor even told me that a three-year remission period is considered excellent in most cases, and that most patients do come back for a second or third course – be it a shortened (measured doses per day or alternative day, but only treating insofar as the problem persists and ceasing treatment once the acne has visibly subsided), accelerated (higher doses per day so the full course is done with faster), or full-term (which is what I think I would like to go ahead with).

As such, I made a decision to return to a doctor and seek a prescription for another course of isotretinoin, also known as Ro-Accutane. So, as of three days ago, I am taking 20mg of isotretinoin per day for a month to start, with no supplementary topical treatment. dom, on the other hand, is on 20mg every alternate day with added stimulus from topical ointments.

I’ll be documenting my journey on and off under the banner of “Back to the Isotretinoin”, and I think it will be plenty interesting to observe the similarities and divergences in dom’s and my in-tandem experiences with the same drug over the coming months. Hopefully by the end of both our courses, we will emerge happy with the respective states of our skin.

Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful week ahead!


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