Severe acne can be both embarrassing and painful. For many, medicated creams and scrubs are enough to diminish acne breakouts, but some patients don’t see results from these methods. Those patients might be candidates for a powerful medication called isotretinoin, formerly sold under the brand name Accutane.
What Is Isotretinoin?
Isotretinoin is a medication used to treat severe cystic acne that has not responded to other treatment. Isotretinoin is a retinoid, which is similar to vitamin A. It reduces acne by shrinking the skin’s oil glands, reducing oil production and the bacteria that forms in that oil. It also slows down the production of new skin cells, which reduces blackheads formed by clogged pores, and soothes inflammation.
What Can I Expect During an Appointment?
Your doctor will determine if you’re a candidate for isotretinoin and prescribe an appropriate dosing regimen. The medicine is in the form of a pill, taken orally at home. The most common regimen involves starting with a low dose and increasing the dose over the following weeks.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Isotretinoin is a controversial treatment due to its many side effects, and for that reason, only those whose acne has not responded to other treatment methods should seek a prescription, and acne sufferers should always consult an experienced practitioner before starting an isotretinoin regimen. Women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant should not take isotretinoin, because isotretinoin causes birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Other serious side effects include headaches, depression, dry eyes, dry skin or lips, nosebleeds, thinning hair, itchy skin, and muscles aches.
Is Isotretinoin Right for Me?
Isotretinoin can often clear severe cystic acne when no other treatments have helped. However, due to the powerful nature of the drug, patients interested in starting an isotretinoin regimen should always consult an experienced dermatologist about possible side effects. If you think you might be a candidate for isotretinoin, contact our office today.