Despite accusations of increased risk of suicide and depression, Accutane, a drug prescribed to high schoolers and young adults, reduces acne and boosts the confidence of those suffering from embarrassment.
Some worry that Accutane spurs self-harm. Yet, large population studies performed on teens and young adults taking various acne medications found there was no correlation between Accutane and mood changes.
Accutane is negatively perceived by the public despite being a drug that has helped many.
Last year, I almost went on Accutane. When I told my friends, their response was extremely negative: “it will ruin your body” and “you don’t need it, acne is just a phase!”
My acne had progressively worsened, and the treatments I was prescribed weren’t working. A solution I was excited about quickly became shameful.
My aunt also struggled with cystic acne as a teenager, and when it got worse she became extremely self-conscious. Her acne was resistant to all the treatments she had tried; putting on makeup was the only thing that made her feel human. She hid behind her hair, shielded her face from the world and wondered if she repulsed those who looked at her.
Isotretinoin (the generic form of Accutane) was initially studied to be an anticancer drug, but researchers found it to be a better anti-acne medication. It is currently the only FDA approved drug with the chance of ‘curing’ acne. Studies performed at UNC Dermatology have shown that 75% of patients who complete their treatment course (6-7 months), will not have acne again.
Having severe acne can be depressing and debilitating in itself, and those with it are more likely to experience major depressive disorders. By getting your acne under control, you not only reduce your risk of scarring but also improve your self image, confidence and improve your mood.
The perfect airbrushed appearance of celebrities in the media is unattainable, but acne is a normal part of development that everyone faces. Luckily, Accutane relieves the struggle and embarrassment of severe acne for those who suffer with low self-esteem. If acne is having a negative effect on your well-being, I recommend visiting the dermatologist. Let them help you feel comfortable in your own skin.
Don’t worry: It’s just your changing body. Illustration by Katy Strong