Banker, 22, whose acne resembled a 'BEARD' reveals how controversial medication transformed her skin (and says she's dumped the boyfriend who was 'ashamed' of her)
A woman who battled severe acne for eight years now has a clear complexion after turning to prescription medication.
Mollie Cowin, 22, a corporate banker from Bexleyheath in Kent, struggled with blemishes that covered her face, chest and back from the age of 14, and says she spent every day trying to disguise her ‘beard of spots’.
Self-conscious Mollie, who says her boyfriend at the time was embarrassed by her skin, tried an array of different spot creams, cleansers and face washes, but nothing helped.
She finally grew so desperate she resorted to the powerful acne drug Roaccutane – the side effects of which have been linked to depression and suicidal thoughts – in February 2017.
Now, eight years on from her first flare-up, Mollie’s skin is transformed – and she’s said goodbye to her unsupportive ex-boyfriend.
Mollie Cowin, 22, a corporate banker from Bexleyheath, Kent, suffered from severe acne for eight years but has now cured her complexion with a controversial skin drug (seen left a month after starting the drug in February 2017 and right now)
Mollie took a six month course of Roaccutane from February 2017. Eight months after it finished, her skin is still clear.
She said of her acne battle: ‘My spots would always form around my chin, my upper lip and on the bottom of my cheeks – it looked like I had a beard of spots.
‘But I always believed it was just something that was hormonal until I started feeling judged for my skin.
‘As soon as I told my boyfriend I was going to share my skin pictures online to help others, he would tell me that it wasn’t a good idea in case some of his friends saw. ‘So after dealing with my acne and feeling worthless for eight years, enough was enough. I knew I needed something a lot stronger so I started taking Roaccutane.
She struggled with her skin from the age of 14 – battling face, chest and back acne, and was left trying to disguise a ‘beard of spots’ every day (seen in March 2017, aged 21)
To make matters worse, Mollie says her boyfriend at the time was so embarrassed by her blemished skin that he avoided showing her off to his friends
‘Now my skin looks amazing and I’m no longer with the boy who made me feel rubbish for my skin, so my confidence is higher than ever.’
When Mollie was diagnosed with acne aged 14, she was convinced that she would grow out of it, but by the time she started working full-time her skin still hadn’t improved.
However it was only when she started to feel ‘judged’ in her relationship that she decided her skin needed help.
She said: ‘I stayed with him because of my lack of confidence, and I was almost driven to get my skin sorted so that he would accept me.
Desperate to find a cure, Mollie tried multiple spot creams and washes before deciding on a permanent treatment last year
‘My spots would always form around my chin, my upper lip and on the bottom of my cheeks – it looked like I had a beard of spots’, she admitted of the condition which spread to her chest and back
‘I went to a private dermatologist and begged her to give me something that would sort my skin out.
‘Luckily I left that doctor’s office with the drug Roaccutane in my hand and started a six-month course to make my skin perfect.
‘At first the drug took it’s time to set in and my skin was still red and patchy at first before it really set in.
‘There were also several points where I didn’t know if I could carry on because no difference was being made, but I stuck to it and now my skin is great.’
Mollie seen last year with treatment on her face as she began the skin therapy
Despite having researched the side effects of the drug which has been linked can to suicidal and depressive thoughts, Mollie, decided to take a course of the acne drug, Roaccutane, in February 2017
And despite never thinking she would be comfortable in her own skin, Mollie is now sharing her journey on her Instagram account @skinstagra.m which boasts over 2,000 followers to help other people feel confident in theirs.
She added: ‘Now I’ve taken the six months’ worth of drugs, my skin hardly breaks out in spots and I have the confidence to go out without make-up.
‘And although I thought I’d have to up-keep a crazy skincare routine once I was off of the drug, I don’t, and I only have to take the tablets if my acne comes back.
‘Although I did struggle with the side effects, like having excess body hair and it challenging my mental health, my confidence is so much better that it doesn’t bother me.
‘I am also no longer with the boy who made me feel so bad about my skin, and I now have the confidence to approach people who I find attractive.’
After initially taking her first set of Roaccutane in February 2017, Mollie has now been off of the tablets for eight months
Mollie now boasts the clear skin she’s always longed for and is no longer with the boyfriend who was ashamed of her
WHAT IS ROACCUTANE?
Roaccutane is a form of vitamin A. It reduces the amount of oil released by oil glands in your skin, and helps your skin renew itself more quickly.
Side effects are common and range from joint pain and dryness of the lips and mouth to depression and dizziness.
Critics of the powerful drug claim doctors ignore its possible side effects, which have been linked to debilitating depression, bowel disease, impotence – and even suicide.
Roaccutane’s manufacturer, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, has faced thousands of lawsuits in the US.
Roaccutane capsules contain isotretinoin, which reduces the skin’s natural oil production.
Developed as a chemotherapy drug, it has proved effective in clearing up acne, however a quick internet search reveals concerns about Roaccutane.
In April 2010, 18-year-old Melissa Martin-Hughes, from Cheltenham, hanged herself after spiralling into depression. She had been taking Roaccutane.
Two-and-a-half years earlier, Angela Lee, 28, stepped in front of a train in Ilford, East London, having left a suicide note claiming Roaccutane had made her feel physically aged. And as far back as 1997, Seamus Todd, son of the late screen star Richard Todd, killed himself after taking the drug.
WHAT IS THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING ROACCUTANE?
Official figures in 2015 research from UK drugs regulator the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, showed 20 people took their own lives while on Roaccutane from mid-2012 to mid-2014, but no firm evidence had been found.
According to Roche, the Swiss health care company that develops the acne drug, there was found to be ‘no causal link’ to suicidal tendencies but as a precaution they updated their leaflet to include this in the side effects.
Simon Rivers, Roche’s Country Medical Lead in the UK, said: ‘Roche understands that severe acne can affect individuals immensely. ‘We are committed to optimising the use of our medicines. Thus ensuring clinicians and patients have the information they need to make informed decisions for the best outcome for the patient.’
A Roche spokesman added: ‘Roaccutane (isotretinoin) is a licenced medicine for the treatment of severe acne.
‘Isotretinoin is a prescription only medicine that can have side effects and therefore can only be safely used under the care and supervision of suitably qualified consultant dermatologists.
‘The patient information leaflet, which is inside every pack of isotretinoin tablets, informs patients about possible side effects by means of special warnings and precautions for use.
‘Roche and the regulatory authorities constantly evaluate the safety of all medicines.
‘We regularly update the Summary of Product Characteristics and Patient Information Leaflet for all Roche medicines to reflect the most up-to-date safety data so that all parties can make informed decisions.’
Roaccutane was linked to people who had died by suicide in 2015 but no firm evidence was found
Devastated parents claim their son, 21, killed himself after side effects from an acne drug he took at 16
In May 2017 one family were left devastated when their 21-year-old son took his own life after taking Roaccutane.
They claimed Luke Reeves killed himself after the acne drug he took changed his personality.
They said he became irrational, lethargic and finally suicidal. They believe the change in his personality was down to the enduring side effects of the drug and are speaking out to raise awareness.
Luke underwent a four month course of Roaccutane when he was 16 to clear his acne. The drug carries warnings of side effects including depression and mood changes.
But his parents said his character change was permanent and Mrs Reeves, 45, who is also an accountant, said: ‘There were lots of little things which were side effects of the drugs.
‘He could not concentrate and he became obsessive and compulsive. He was irrational. He became sensitive to high temperatures and
I took him to be tested for diabetes because he was so thirsty.’
Luke first attempted suicide last summer and again in October. He was in the intensive care unit for nine days before being transferred temporarily to the Lakes Mental Health unit in Colchester.
He took his life in April 2017 and his inquest was opened and adjourned the following month.
The Government agency, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulation Authority, has reviewed the safety of the drug but said the results were inconclusive.
However, it advised patients to contact their doctor straight away if they experienced any psychiatric disorders.
Drug manufacturer Roche released a statement following the tragic suicide of Mr Reeves which his parents link to its product Roaccutane.
Robert and Becky Reeves, from Copford, Essex, want to raise awareness of the possible link between Roaccutane and long term depression
Commenting on the situation Dr. Rav Seeruthun, Medical Director at Roche, said: ‘We are deeply saddened to hear about Luke and offer our sympathies to his family during what must be an incredibly difficult time.’
Expanding on the impact of Roaccutane, known in the industry as isotretinoin, he added: ‘We recognise that severe acne can lead to changes in mood, self-esteem and in some sufferers lead to depression.
‘This is why the information provided with isotretinoin carries a warning that some patients may experience mood changes, including an increase in depression.’
‘And whilst authors recognised several limitations in their research, a retrospective study published in the BMJ in 2010 didn’t establish a link between isotretinoin and an observed increased risk of suicide.
‘Additionally, the MHRA concluded in December 2014, that whilst a causal link cannot be ruled out, it was not possible to identify a clear increase in risk of psychiatric disorders in people who take isotretinoin compared to those who do not.’
Source: Daily Mail