Many people believe that a certain topical treatment for the
skin is a very effective weapon against acne. A derivative of
vitamin A (retinoic acid), commonly called "Retinae" in medicine
form, is often prescribed for use in cases of severe acne. Donovan
was one of those cases. He had had acne since he was 11 years old.
His face was cratered like the moon, with large landmarks, and new,
fresh gashes. Before I met him, he popped all of his pimples
and left horrible scars. When I saw him, I knew he must get help
soon. I prescribed Retinae for him, and it seemed to be working a
little bit, but he still had many pimples left. One day, he came to
ask a few questions of me. He asked me how ingestion of vitamins
differs from the topical treatment. It did not occur to me what he
meant at that time. I answered the question honestly. I told him
that the pimples are part of his bloodstream, and the vitamin A
would reach the pimples regardless of how it was put into the
system. The topical treatment is, however, absorbed more rapidly.
He thanked me, changed the subject and left. I thought nothing of his
questions and went on with my life. A couple weeks later, I recieved
the alarming report that Donovan was being taken to the hospital because
of toxins in his blood. I learned that Donovan bought vitamin A
supplements over the counter and ate them in unbelievable
amounts. He went through one jar in a couple of days, I was told.
Donovan eventually recovered, but he did stay in critical care for
over a week. Ingesting that much Vitamin A is very hazardous to