Accutane: Know The Benefits And Risks Of Using It

Last Updated: January 21, 2021

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Accutane is a brand of acne-treating medication. It contains a potent and highly active chemical Isotretinoin. It is available as oral capsules.
Doctors prescribe this to treat a severe form of acne. In this case, they were unresponsive to other treatments including some antibiotics. They call it cystic acne or nodular acne. In fact, Isotretinoin occurs naturally in the human body. It is very much like Vitamin A and belongs to a group of chemicals known as “retinoids”.

Is Accutane Effective?

Accutane is one of the most powerful acne medications. The exact mechanism by which it treats a severe acne is still not known clearly, but it is known how long Accutane stays in one’s system. However, a lot of studies have concluded that it works by four mechanisms:

  • It helps to reduce the production of oil. It does this by inducing controlled death of the cells that secrete oils in the skin. They call this process Apoptosis.
  • Moreover, it exhibits some degrees of activity against the acne-causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes.
  • It hastens the cell renewal process. That way, it helps to clear even the most severe acne.
  • Finally, it causes a reduction in the size of the outbreaks. It does it by using its anti-inflammatory properties.

As a matter of fact, two million users who have benefitted from Accutane. As a result, it speaks volumes about its effectiveness. Almost half of the patients taking Accutane have obtained a complete resolution. By the way, the prices for Accutane are not affordable for all, so it is better to explore.

Is Accutane Safe? What Are The Risks?

Before using it, one will need to sign an agreement as an evidence of acceptance of the risks in case they occur. They call this iPLEDGE program.

Considering this, a concern about its safety is understandable. In addition, there are a lot of side effects. Some of them have a potential to be serious. Therefore, it may raise some questions in mind. However, it is a safe medication when one uses it in a proper manner.
Know the risks before opting for it. Then, only proceed with the treatment.

  • It is dangerous to use Accutane during pregnancy. The drug use can cause birth defects, the death of the baby or miscarriage. All things considered, a person should NOT take it if one is pregnant or planning to conceive. It is recommended not to become pregnant one month before or after taking Accutane.
  • In some patients, it may cause some mental conditions. They include depression, psychosis or increase the risk of suicide. Therefore, consult a doctor immediately if one senses anything abnormal during the therapy.

What One Should Do

Taking a few precautions before, during and after the therapy can cut down almost every risk. Here is what one should do.

  • Read the iPLEDGE form with a lot of care before signing. If one do not understand anything or have a query, ask a doctor or pharmacist.
  • NEVER buy Accutane from online sellers. In fact, one should buy it only from those pharmacies that have registered in the iPLEDGE program. In the same way, only an iPLEDGE-registered doctor can prescribe it.

When Not To Use Accutane?

Do not use it if allergic to any of the ingredients in the capsule is present.

How To Take Accutane in a Proper Manner?

Follow a doctor’s instructions and NEVER use it in ways other than recommended.

  • Swallow the entire capsule with a tall glass of water.
  • Take it with foods that are very fatty. That way, one may enhance its absorption in the digestive tract.
  • Never break, open or chew the capsule.
  • Has one discovered that is pregnant during the therapy? In this case, stop taking it immediately and consult a doctor.
  • Do not take double doses to compensate for the missed dose.
  • Avoid taking Vitamin A supplements while taking it.

Furthermore, taking the following precautions can make the side effects less likely.

  • Do not use medicated soaps or harsh cosmetic products in the face. One may talk to a doctor to know which cosmetics are suitable.
  • Use a sunscreen product on the affected areas and avoid exposure to UV rays as much as possible. One may wear protective clothing to reduce the exposure.
  • Ask them about using a lubricating eye drop if problems with dry eyes are developing.
  • Exercise extra precautions if one have certain pre-existing diseases. They include diabetes, bleeding disorder, liver problems, or weakened immunity.

Seek Help For Accutane Addiction

Accutane AddictionEvery medication comes with its own share of good and bad effects. In fact, they prescribe any medication only after assessing the risks and benefits. Moreover, the US FDA approves a medication for marketing. In fact, they will only do it after it has demonstrated certain criteria. This is that significant benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
Many people become addicted to Accutane, so there are many drug addiction treatment methods to undergo this problem without a relapse.
Nevertheless, each case might be different than others. It is because everyone’s body is unique. As a result, one’s response to a particular medication might be very unique.
Therefore, one has different problems than others. In any case, talk to the doctor immediately if anything abnormal happens. It is not only during but shortly after the therapy as well. Also, take care of all these things if the loved one is taking Accutane.

Want To Know More?

To know more about the risks and benefits of taking Accutane, talk to the experts. They can give an accurate information on a condition and its treatment. Also, it is recommended to know what are the substance abuse treatment centers can help with addiction.

Page Sources

  1. Tan TH, Hallett R, Yesudian PD. Efficacy and relapse rates of different Isotretinoin dosages in treating acne vulgaris: systemic review. Clin Med (Lond). 2016.
  2. Truitt JM, Reichenberg JS, Sharghi KG, Sampson SM, Roenigk RK, Magid M. Isotretinoin: the ups are just as troubling as the downs. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2018 Aug;153(4):535-539.
  3. Rademaker M. Isotretinoin: dose, duration and relapse. What does 30 years of usage tell us? Australas J Dermatol. 2013 Aug;54(3):157-62.

Published on: April 18th, 2017

Updated on: January 21st, 2021

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


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