Accutane is the brand name of the generic drug isotretinoin and can be used to treat moderate to severe acne. It was first discovered in 1979 as a treatment for serious cases of acne and has been used more extensively over the past 25 years. It is a vitamin A derivative and, as a result, vitamin A supplements should be discontinued while taking Accutane.
Accutane is an oral medication that should be taken with a meal that contains an adequate amount of fat. This is because it shrinks the oil glands and reduces the amount of oil produced by as much as 80 percent. Since oil produced by the body is a major contributor to the development of acne, reducing the amount of oil produced, by nature, is expected to reduce the severity of acne.
Accutane is typically reserved for the treatment of nodular or cystic acne, and is primarily for patients who have tried benzoyl peroxides and retinoids without success. Benzoyl peroxide is a topical solution that is available as an over-the-counter medication. Retinoids are also vitamin A derivatives that are used primarily for blackheads and whiteheads.
In addition to reducing the amount of oil produced by the skin’s oil glands, Accutane reduces the amount of acne bacteria. This is because acne bacteria live in skin oil, and reducing the amount of oil reduces the amount of bacteria at the source. The medication also slows down the production of skin cells inside the pores. Consequently, pores are less likely to become clogged and complicate acne. Accutane also has anti-inflammatory properties.
There are two reported side effects associated with Accutane. This medication should not be taken during pregnancy due to the possibility of it causing severe harm to the fetus. Females on this medication need to provide two negative pregnancy tests spaced 30 days apart. The second reported side effect is depression in teens leading to suicide; however, this has never been proven.
People who are interested in pursuing Accutane treatment should have a discussion with our medical professionals at Dr. Yeoman’s Dermatology Office to weigh the benefits against any potential side effects. Like all medications, Accutane is prescribed only because our doctor believes the benefits far outweigh the risk of side effects. It is also important to remember that this medication is only used when other methods of treatment have failed.
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