What To Expect When Taking Accutane

Accutane, also known as isotretinoin, is a powerful medication used to treat acne that has not responded to other treatments. It is a derivative of vitamin A and works by reducing the amount of oil produced by the skin, preventing the formation of new pimples, and helping existing pimples to heal (via Dr. Michele Green).

Accutane is typically used to treat severe cases of acne, including cystic acne or nodular acne that has not responded to other treatments. It is often considered a last resort treatment due to its potency and potential side effects.

Accutane is usually taken orally in the form of capsules. The dosage and duration of treatment may vary depending on your body mass, says Dr. Green. In general, treatment lasts for several months, with most people taking Accutane for 4 to 6 months, says the National Health Service (NHS).

One of the key benefits of Accutane is that it can start working within the first 10 days of treatment (via the NHS). However, various side effects may occur before any improvement is observed.

What to expect when taking Accutane

It is common for people to experience skin purging, which is temporary. Skin purging occurs when the medication causes abnormal functioning of skin cells, which can increase acne breakouts, explains the Advanced Acne Institute.

Skin purging may happen in the first few weeks of treatment as the medication takes effect. The increased acne is often characterized by inflamed skin, but not everyone will experience this. Patients who experience this side effect are encouraged to check in with their dermatologist.

Accutane is also associated with other side effects. According to a 2015 study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, it can increase your triglyceride levels, so your doctor may recommend dietary changes while taking the medication.

Another common side effect of Accutane is skin dryness. Accutane can cause dry skin and lips and make your skin more sensitive to the sun, says the NHS. So it is important to wear sunscreen when outside.

More serious side effects can include congenital disabilities if taken during pregnancy, as well as depression. Therefore, it's important to take steps to ensure you don't get pregnant before, during, or shortly after treatment. You may also need to take regular pregnancy tests throughout treatment. If you become depressed during treatment, tell your doctor immediately.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Tips to ensure the success of your treatment

If you have been prescribed Accutane, there are several things you can do to help ensure the success of your treatment and minimize the risk of side effects. One of the most important things you can do is to follow your doctor's instructions carefully.

Accutane is a potent medication; taking it exactly as prescribed is important. This means taking the correct dosage at the prescribed times and for the prescribed duration of treatment. Do not change your dosage without first consulting with your doctor.

You'll also need to avoid alcohol while taking Accutane, since it can increase the risk of liver damage.

Regular check-ups are also essential for the success of your Accutane treatment. Your doctor will monitor your progress and take blood tests to check for any potential side effects. Be sure to keep all your appointments and let your doctor know if you experience any new symptoms or side effects.

Finally, be patient with your Accutane treatment. It can take several months to work, so it is important to be consistent with your treatment.