How Long Does Accutane Stay in One’s System?

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Accutane is a potent medicine which remains in the body for an extended period, which is why women who want to get pregnant are advised to wait up to 6 months to be sure that Accutane has left their system entirely.

Duration For Accutane To Stay in Blood, Hair, And Saliva

Accutane’s half-life is 21 hours, and it takes approximately 4.8 days before it completely clears from the system. However, the following estimations suggest Accutane is much more persistent:

  • Blood: Some data indicate that Accutane exits the bloodstream after 15-24 hours.
  • Skin: Since Accutane is applied directly to the skin, sebaceous glands under it may retain Accutane for six months.

What are the Factors For Accutane To Stay In One’s System?

The European Directive advocates a starting dose of 0.5 mg/kg/day with an increase to 1.0 mg/kg/day according to the tolerance and response.The use of Isotretinoin in acne; Alison Layton, 2009. Factors which affect the duration of Accutane presence in the body are:

  • Metabolic Rate: Slower metabolism rate slows down the entire process of Accutane elimination from the body.
  • Body fat percentage: Fat accumulates Accutane and quickens its absorption, but also “imprisons” it, thus making the excretion from the body slower.
  • Taking Accutane with or right after meals: This leads to similar effects as the fat percent in the body and also helps to prevent an Accutane relapse.
  • Hormonal dysfunction: In women with polycystic ovarian syndrome Accutane absorption may slow down.
  • The presence of certain bacteria: Bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus may affect the rate of excretion.
  • Other drug interactions: If mixed with other drugs, Accutane absorption and the duration rate may differ. Salicylic acid and imidazole fungistatic may prolong Accutane presence in the body. Be sure to read any drug prescription guidelines carefully.

What Is Accutane Metabolism Process?

Accutane can be administrated orally and dermally.
After oral administration, Accutane breaks down into three metabolites which bind to plasma proteins, primarily albumin.
Isotretinoin and its metabolites are further metabolized into conjugates, which are then excreted in urine and feces.

Accutane Testing Information

Current recommendations for patients who use Accutane is to have a full blood count, fasting lipids, and liver function test at least once during a 16 to 30-week treatment. These tests will indicate whether Accutane is present in a person’s body.

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Published on: June 5th, 2017

Updated on: December 18th, 2019

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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