What Is Isotretinoin?

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Isotretinoin is the generic name for a vitamin A-related chemical compound that is most often used as an acne treatment. Isotretinoin is also beneficial in treating some types of skin cancer. The brand names of isotretinoin for acne issues include Accutane, Isotane, and Claravis in capsule form and Isotrex as a topical solution. Isotretinoin is a highly regulated prescription medication in the United States that is recommended only if other acne treatment methods have not produced successful results.

How Does Isotretinoin Work?

Isotretinoin is an acne blemish treatment that works to clear up cases of moderate and severe acne by decreasing the amount of sebum produced by the glands and by promoting the sloughing of dead skin cells. Dermatologists who administer isotretinoin for acne treatment adjust the dosage according to the patient's skin condition and weight. The medication is taken over a period of four to six months. If isotretinoin therapy is successful, the acne condition will go into a lengthy remission.

What Are The Benefits Of Isotretinoin?

People who have long suffered from severe acne that have not responded to over the counter topical applications or oral antibiotics can benefit from the use of isotretinoin. The compound is effective in treating several types of severe skin disorders in addition to acne.

Side Effects of Isotretinoin

The use of isotretinoin as an acne blemish treatment can produce a variety of side effects that range from mild to severe. The typical side effects experienced by those who use isotretinoin for acne are dryness, itchiness, and peeling of the skin. Other adverse conditions that can occur are hair thinning, back pain, headaches, and sensitivity to contact lenses. In rare cases, isotretinoin has been linked to hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and menstrual irregularities.

Isotretinoin and Birth Defects

It is crucial that women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant avoid taking isotretinoin, as it carries a high risk of miscarriage and birth defects. Babies that are born to mothers who have used isotretinoin while pregnant may be visually and hearing impaired, mentally challenged, or facially dysmorphic.

Isotretinoin For Acne

Isotretinoin is a powerful drug that should only be used for acne blemish treatment in extreme circumstances. While it is available in different dosage levels and side effects tend to be less severe at lower doses, the use of isotretinoin for acne is monitored very closely due to the potential health risks involved. As of 2006, the FDA requires dermatologists, pharmacists, and patients to register and visit the iPLEDGE website dedicated to the careful dispensing and use of isotretinoin.