Oratane Acne Treatment

June 04, 2013


It's official. I'm going back on Oratane. I took the acne medication in 2010/11 for six months and it cleared up my skin but two months after the treatment my skin started breaking out again. My Melbourne dermatologist said to come back if this happened but then life happened and I moved back to Brisbane. I managed my skin for the past year on Proactiv and it was pretty good but it stopped working after a while. I gave Skin Clarity a go and that made it worse so I finally made the dreaded decision to go back on Oratane.

This is the welcome pack my dermatologist put together for me. I threw in the three supermarket lip balms, he didn't suggest those brands but Maybelline Baby Lips is seriously the best softening lip balm I've ever used that has staying power (sorry vaseline, most points for softness, zilch for staying power under Oratane strain) and I have a few Nivea lip balms still lying around... I'll need about 50 more Baby Lips before my course of meds ends. No exaggeration - the doc wants me on Oratane at varying levels over the next three years. Ouch. Guess it's good I had such a bad experience with alcohol lately, I won't miss drinking for a while. I forgot to throw a jar of vaseline in the pic - vaseline was my saving grace applied before bed and first thing when I woke up last time round.

On a scale of 1 to 10 for horrible if 1 is drinking unflavoured cough syrup and 10 is chemo, I'd say Oratane is round about a 2.5. But I've yet to undergo surgery, break most bones or any other severe medical issues personally, so Oratane is the most unpleasant and painful body memory I have. I'm told the spinal tap I had when I was two had me screaming hysterics but I don't really remember that.


I'm preparing for a life of discomfort and a little pain...oh, and hairiness because waxing is out. The worst of the discomfort, from memory is the dry, peeling lips that I lathered with lip balm every 15 minutes or so. But there's also the dry eyeballs (especially for us contact lens wearers), dry scalp, dry face, dry neck, dry body, dry arms, dry elbows, dry knees, dry ankles... you get the picture. All your skin feels tight yet flimsy and ready to break. The first time, I only had aching bones and muscles and a bit of nausea for the first two weeks on the meds while my body adjusted (here's hoping it's the same again). I didn't have any hair loss or severe mood swings or get depressed or anything like that.

I think it's unfair to suggest Oratane is linked with depression and suicidal thoughts. You're probably not in a happy place when you seek specialist help for a skin disease like cystic acne, you're feeling desperate to get rid of painful and highly visible red and pussy pimples. I bailed on coffee with a guy a few weeks ago because I didn't want my unappealing skin to be his first impression of me. Seems a bit silly to be posting my acne on the Internet now but I guess the difference is I won't see you staring or any looks of disgust. Having to look at my own face in the mirror is enough.

If you have severe acne and you're struggling to treat it with commercially available products, I say it's worth spending the moneys if you have it to see a dermatologist for Oratane. The sooner the better. I lucked out with a cancellation and a rad boss who let me pop out at short notice so I bypassed the 2 month wait for my appointment. For first timers,  it'll take 1-2 visits to get started plus meds so depending on the doctor's fees, how many acne skincare products you already have and any additional meds like antibiotics they prescribe, you'll need at least a few hundred. My first time on Oratane was about $550 to kickstart then ongoing check ups and meds, this time because I'd been on the meds before and didn't need the tests or a second appointment to get started, it cost me about $300 to kit up. I assume you have acne if you're reading this. Good luck! I'll be posting updates on my skin's progress as I go.

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