Dr. M.J. Bazos MD,
Accutane: Using Accutane the Right Way
What is isotretinoin?
Isotretinoin (brand name:
Accutane) is a medicine used to treat very bad acne. It is usually used for acne
that did not get better after treatment with other medicines. It is important
for you to take isotretinoin the right way. You should also know about the side
effects of isotretinoin. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about
this medicine or if you have side effects when you take it.
You should take isotretinoin with
food. You don't have to keep the medicine in the refrigerator, but keep it out
of sunlight. Don't keep it in a place that is very warm.
Isotretinoin has been prescribed just
for you. Don't share it with other people. Keep isotretinoin away from children.
You may not give blood while you are taking this medicine or for at least 1
month after you stop taking it. You should also not have cosmetic procedures
done to smooth your skin (such as waxing) while you are taking isotretinoin and
for at least 6 months after you
Before Treatment Starts
Tell your doctor if you or anyone
in your family has diabetes, asthma, liver disease, heart disease or depression.
You should also tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medicines,
especially parabens (which are in the isotretinoin capsules). Be sure to tell
your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, even over-the-counter
Isotretinoin is like
vitamin A, so while you are taking isotretinoin, you should not take vitamin A
pills or multivitamins that contain vitamin A . You should also not take any
antibiotics without talking to your doctor first.
Your acne may get worse when you
start using isotretinoin. This usually just lasts for a little while. If this
happens to you, your doctor may have you use other medicines along with the
isotretinoin in this stage.
of isotretinoin is different for each person. During your treatment, your doctor
may change your dosage. Be sure to take isotretinoin just the way your doctor
tells you. If you miss one dose, don't take extra the next time. You will
probably take isotretinoin for 15 to 20 weeks.
Be sure you keep all of your
appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to check on you often. He or
she may check your cholesterol levels and your liver.
During treatment, you may have
some of the following side effects. These side effects usually go away when you
stop taking isotretinoin:
- Dry skin and lips. Your doctor can suggest
lotions or creams to use.
- Fragile (easily injured) skin, itching or rash
- Increased sensitivity to the sun (easily
- Peeling skin on your palms and soles
- Thinning hair
- Dry, red eyes. You may find that you can't wear
your contact lenses during treatment.
- Bleeding gums
- Pain in your muscles
- Decreased night vision. If you have any vision
problems, you should stop taking isotretinoin and talk to your doctor right
A few people have
even more serious side effects. If these problems aren't treated, they could
last even after you stop taking isotretinoin. If you have any of the side
effects listed below, stop taking isotretinoin and check with your doctor right
- Headaches, nausea, vomiting or blurred vision
- Depression or changes in your mood
- Feelings of sadness or irritability
- Unusual tiredness or lack of appetite
- Severe stomach pain, diarrhea or bleeding from
- Very dry eyes
- A yellow color in your skin or eyes, and dark
Stop Taking Isotretinoin
might keep getting better even after you stop taking isotretinoin. Most of the
side effects go away in a few days or weeks after you stop taking isotretinoin.
If your side effects last for more than a few weeks after you stop taking this
medicine, talk to your doctor.
acne may not get better the first time you use isotretinoin for 15 to 20 weeks.
If you need to take isotretinoin again, you can start taking it 8 to 10 weeks
after your first treatment is over. Do not give blood for at least 1 month after
you stop taking isotretinoin.
Girls and Women
You must not take
isotretinoin if you are pregnant or if there is any chance you might get
pregnant while taking this medicine!
Isotretinoin causes severe birth
defects, including malformation of the head and face, mental retardation and
severe internal defects of the brain, heart, glands and nervous system. It can
also cause miscarriage, premature birth or death of the fetus.
You must use 2 forms of birth control
at the same time for at least 1 month before you start taking isotretinoin and
during the entire time you are taking this medicine. Keep using 2 forms of birth
control for 1 month after you stop taking isotretinoin.
Your doctor will make sure you are not
pregnant before you start taking isotretinoin. He or she will check again every
month while you are taking it. You will be asked to read and sign a consent form
to show that you understand the dangers of birth defects and agree to use 2
forms of birth control. If your period is late, stop taking isotretinoin and
call your doctor right away.