The drug that got rid of my acne – but watch out for the side effects

Before/After (Laura Viney)

The Wonder Drug?


At just fifteen years of age, Kaity Ellston faced – quite literally – an ongoing battle with her skin. Acne.

Acne occurs when a person’s hair follicles become inflamed due to bacteria on the skin clogging the pores. It occurs most commonly on a person’s back, chest and face. 

For Kaity, and thousands of other Australians, acne was more then a few blemishes here and there. “My acne got pretty bad, pretty quickly” Kaity said. She tried every over-the-counter treatment imaginable: topical ointments, supermarket skin care product and even expensive facials that promised to cure Kaity’s acne. 

Her general practitioner referred her to a dermatologist as all other options had been exhausted. This is when Kaity was introduced to Roaccutane, a drug that could cure her of acne. 

Roaccutane is an oral medication used to treat severe to cystic acne. However, Roaccutane is not for everyone as it carries the possibility of mild to severe side effects. 

“I was thoroughly taken through the side effects with my dermatologist. I didn’t really think about them or how they might affect me, all I wanted was for my acne to disappear” Kaity said.

A few weeks into being on Roaccutane, Kaity started experiencing aches and pains in her joints and feeling extremely tired. “I was anxious, a lot, I also unfortunately became quite depressed.” she said, “I just tried to make sure I got as much rest as I could and ate healthily.”

According to the website,, the most common side effects of Roaccutane are bone or joint pain, eye inflammation, nosebleeds, back pain inflammation, scaling of the lips and rashes. The more severe side effects include, bleeding from the gums, blurred vision, changes in behaviour and mood swings, headaches, mental depression and even suicidal thoughts. (

“I was willing to go through anything to fix my skin” Kaity said.

For the prescribed 12 months that Kaity was on Roaccutane, her skin cleared up, but it also became extremely dry. “QV moisturiser was recommended to me by my dermatologist… It helped me a lot,” she said. 

Dermatologists normally give patients a list of moisturisers, lip creams and other skin care routine ideas to try while on the drug. 

QV range
Blistex lip conditioner

In the end, Roaccutane worked for Kaity, just like it has for thousands of other people. But the treatment did come with some severe side effects.

“I have had breakouts, especially when I get stressed, but other than that, my severe acne has never come back. Hopefully it never comes back!” she said. 

During/After (Laura Viney)




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