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Is Zit Worth It?

By {screen_name}
OK, so I have this “friend” who has a son the same age as my son. Her son, like many teenagers, is plagued with what one might call severe, persistent acne. Her son has been on different prescription medications for about 6 months now to no avail. Her son claims the acne doesn’t bother him, and indeed it doesn’t seem to. However, it really bugs my friend. She thinks people will think badly of her for not taking her son to a dermatologist for treatment, when in fact she has. She is also concerned about the long term effects like permanent scarring, infections and the like. So she took her son back to the dermatologist who, after a lively discussion amongst the three of them, recommended the prescription drug Accutane. Her son was thrilled. “One pill once a day and that’s it? Yeah baby, I’m all over that. Let’s do it!” My friend was a little less enthralled and became slightly alarmed when the doctor ticked off the possible side effects. “Yes, Accutane is great because you’re on it for 4 months and then virtually done. But the side effects include pancreatitis, liver failure, stroke, muscle and joint pain and weakness, psychosis, depression, suicide, slowed bone growth, vision impairment, hearing impairment and long term diarrhea. Plus, you must have blood tests to check for liver function before and every 30 days during treatment.” The doctor then went on to explain the drug is only dispensed, by law, in 30-day doses so people are sure to get their required blood work done. Say what?! They let this stuff on the market? For god’s sake - heroin is less dangerous. And a lot less expensive, too. Oh, and just so you know, if you’re female it can cause serious birth defects should you become pregnant during and for a short time after treatment. Well, at least my friend and her son didn’t have to add that to the list. After weighing the “rare but potentially severe” side effects, my friend and her son decided to give it a go. Her son was only concerned about the liver failure but figured it wasn’t going to happen overnight and that’s why you had the blood tests. My friend was concerned about all of it. I mean the whole purpose of the drug is cosmetic and you’re potentially risking life and limb? My friend did a lot of research and even looked up the clinical trials. Is 1% statistically significant? Chicken pox vaccines carry a higher potentially dangerous risk than that. But what if you’re the 1%? Is the upside of being “cured” of acne and all that it carries with it through your formative-in-every-way years worth the risk? What would you do?

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