If you have severe acne, that has not responded to over the counter or prescription treatments, there is still one option that may clear up your acne. Accutane (also know and sold as Roaccutane or Isotretinoin) is a prescription strength acne medication that is prescribed when almost all other acne medications have failed.
What is Accutane? And how does it work?
Accutane is a vitamin A derivative that is taken in pill form. Oddly, while doctors do know what Accutane does, it is not sure how it does it, at least not on the cellular level. However, Accutante directly combats the way acne forms in the skin, clearing infections, and preventing future breakouts. It does this by reducing the size of the oil glands in the skin by up to 50%, and restricts the production of oil in these glands by around 80%. Because the bacteria that causes acne lives in oil produced by the skin, reduction of the oil produced greatly reduces the amount of acne causing bacteria in and on skin cells. Accutane also prevents clogging of pores by slowing the rate of skin cell production, thusly helping them keep from becoming clogged. Finally, Accutane has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce swelling and appearance of acne.
As with most acne treatments, many people see an initial worsening of acne as the product starts to work. As skin changes, due to the medication, impurities in the skin are pushed out, and cause new breakouts to occur. Once this has completed, results are usually impressive. Acne is reduced partially or completely in 95% of Accutane users, a success rate unheard of in any other acne product. Acne recurrence after a course of Accutane is only about 33%, and can be treated successfully with another course of Accutane.
What are the side effects?
Hearing the incredible rate of success that Accutane offers, you may be wondering why doctors aren’t just prescribing Accutane to anyone that suffers from acne. The reason that Accutane is usually one of the last treatment methods is because the side effects from Accutane can be incredibly severe.
To begin with, Accutane causes a very high instance of birth defects. Accutane is not prescribed until a female patient can prove that they are on two birth control methods. People that take Accutane are told to not donate blood until they have stopped taking the medication for at least thirty days, because if they do, and a pregnant woman is the recipient of transfusion, this can lead to birth defects.
But the side effects from Accutane are not limited to birth defects. Accutane can cause depression like symptoms in patients taking it, and even cause people to consider taking their lives. Additionally, Accutane can cause convulsions, rectal bleeding, and weakness in bones that can lead to fractures. Less severe Accutane side effects include sensitivity to sunlight, poor night vision, problems hearing, loss of appetite, jaundice, flu like symptoms, and extreme drying of skin.
Is Accutane right for me?
If you have severe, apparently untreatable acne, Accutane will almost surely clear it up. The main question that anyone considering Accutane as their acne treatment method is if the benefits of taking Accutane would outweigh the risks of taking the medication. As you can see, the list of less severe side effects caused by Accutane would usually end up on the severe side effect list of almost any other drug. Because doctors understand what Accutane does, but not why, the side effects are numerous and can be difficult to combat effectively. So if you are thinking that Accutane may be right for you, be sure to have conversations with your doctor, and understand the risks before asking for a prescription.