What is Isotretinoin?
Isotretinoin (brand name: Accutane) is that magic pill, which has actually brought a revolution in the world of acne treatments. Presently, it is the most popular and effective way to treat acne of all types. Whenever the word acne treatment is uttered, it is somewhere, somehow related to Isotretinoin. It belongs to the family of retinoids which are similar to vitamin A.
How does it work?
Like other retinoids, Isotretinoin works by altering DNA transcription. This alteration leads to decrease in the size and output of sebaceous glands. It also helps reduce the number of bacteria present in the sebaceous gland and on the skin surface. Due to all these functions, it ultimately reduces the formation of whiteheads and blackheads.
Who uses Isotretinoin?
Isotretinoin (Accutane) is generally used by people suffering from nodular and pustular acne that is severe in nature and has not responded to any type of treatment with regular antibiotics. While it has been basically prescribed for severe acne, it has also been used to treat mild to moderate acne depending on the condition of the patient, and has witnessed varying degrees of success.
What are the things to be kept in mind before starting an acne treatment?
1) Tell your doctor about the medical history of your family as well as yourself. You need to mention things like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, depression or liver disease.
2) If you are allergic to certain medications, tell your doctor about them.
3) Inform your doctor about all or any Over the Counter (OTC) medications that you might be taking.
4) Do not take any Vitamin A or multivitamin pills along with Isotretinoin.
What are the things to be kept in mind during and after the treatment?
1) In the initial stages of your taking Isotretinoin, your acne may get worse. Don't worry, this doesn't last long.
2) Take exactly the prescribed amount of the drug. The amount may variate during the treatment.
3) Get your check ups done regularly. This is necessary in order to keep a check on your cholesterol and liver.
4) Take Isotretinoin with your food.
5) Keep the medicine out of sunlight and warm places, but do not store it in the refrigerator.
6) It has been prescribed just for you so, don't share it with other people.
7) Do not give blood while you are taking the medicine and till one month after you leave it.
8) No cosmetic procedures like waxing should be undertaken while taking the drug and for 6 months after you stop.
What are the side-effects of Isotretinoin?
You don't need to fret if you experience the following side-effects. They are normal and vanish once you stop taking Accutane.
1) Peeling of skin of your palms and soles.
2) Itching or fragile skin.
3) Thinning hair.
4) Tendency to get sunburned easily.
5) Bleeding nose and gums.
6) Reduced night vision. A consultation with your doctor is suggested in this case.
7) Dry and red eyes. You might experience a problem wearing contact lenses.
However, some people may experience some severe side-effects. In such a case, you should stop taking Isotretinoin immediately and consult your doctor:1) Feeling irritable and/or sad.
2) Extremely dry eyes.
3) Depression or mood swings.
4) Loss of appetite or unusual tiredness.
5) Presence of yellow color in your skin and eyes, and dark yellow urine. Headaches, nausea, vomiting or blurred vision.
What are the aftermaths of this treatment?
After the use of Isotretinoin, your skin will keep getting better. Most of the side-effects vanish after you stop taking it. If they don't, consult your doctor. There is a possibility that the results may not be that good after the first treatment of 15-20 weeks itself. In such a case you can repeat the treatment after 8-10 weeks of the first one.
Word of caution if you are pregnant!
Isotretinoin can cause severe birth defects including malformation of various body parts as well as under-development of the brain. So if you are pregnant or are about to get pregnant, do not use this medicine. Also, you are required to use two forms of birth control at the same time, at least 1 month before you start taking Isotretinoin. During and after the treatment, follow the same guideline for at least a month.
Although there exists various treatment options that you can choose from, Isotretinoin still remains the unbeatable emperor of the acne treatment arena.