Interviewer Gemma Cairney takes a look at how acne impacts the lives of people in the UK following the death of acne sufferer Jesse Jones. Both Gemma and Jesse’s father Derek Jones go on an emotional journey looking at how acne affects people in the UK and what the doctors and dermatologists are doing to combat the problem.
Whilst laser acne treatment is now considered the gold standard option by many dermatologists, treatment is not offered on the NHS due to cost. The antibiotic Roaccutane is usually prescribed for severe acne, often to the detriment of the patient – as Jesse’s family are all too aware.
Roaccutane (known as ‘Accutane’ in the States) is simply a brand name for the generic drug isotretinoin. It works by shrinking the oil glands in the skin, thereby virtually stopping oil production. Whilst many people see their acne return once they stop taking the drug, for a lot of people, Roaccutane can be a permanent solution to getting rid of their acne. Those who do experience recurrences of acne report that their breakouts are not as bad and occur less frequently.
Roaccutane does not come without side effects however. For some these can be as mild (and temporary) as dry lips, headaches, photosensitivity (sensitivity to sun), rashes, joint and hair loss. For others however, it can lead to severe depression – sadly in the case of Jesse Jones, suicidal depression. It can also cause birth defects meaning doctors usually insist on women being on the pill when prescribed with Roaccutane.
Like all drugs, Roaccutane has its side effects. It is therefore always a question of weighing up the pros and cons of having acne, versus the potential harmful effects of the medication. For some people, suffering on a daily basis with acute acne can be worse for their general wellbeing than putting up with minor side effects like dry cracked lips or headaches. For others however being plagued with suicidal thoughts and spiraling into depression clearly outweighs any possible benefits Roaccutane could bring.
To find out more, don’t miss ‘Dying for Clear Skin’ tonight at 9pm on BBC3