Must-know Things When on an Isotretinoin Program

Severe cystic acne vulgaris isn’t just your simple pimple problem, far from it, since it’s the worst form of acne considering the cysts and nodules on the face. Fortunately, dermatologists have a few aces up their sleeves when all other treatments have failed – isotretinoin, also known by its brand name, Accutane.

But before taking isotretinoin, here are a few things to know about it.  

The Ideal Candidate

If you have severe cystic acne vulgaris yet your skin condition continues to worsen despite other treatments, then your doctor will likely consider isotretinoin.  You and your doctor have to agree about its use since it has its side effects and complications, especially when used improperly.

For women, the use of isotretinoin involves more tests than in men because the medication can cause serious birth defects in pregnant women. You must then be aware of several precautionary measures including:

  • Undergo a complete medical history to ensure that, indeed, you can benefit from the medication
  • Take two pregnancy tests so as to rule out your pregnancy
  • Use two forms of birth control, usually condom and the pill, while you’re on the drug

Of course, the ideal candidate is an individual who has a strong sense of responsibility for his/her well-being. You must communicate with your doctor, comply with your medication program, and undergo the laboratory work, among other responsibilities. Your active participation in your medication is a must!  

The Best Time to Take It

When you come to think about it, you will experience adverse effects from taking isotretinoin regardless of the time of year that you take it. During the colder months, the dryness that comes with isotretinoin use may be unbearable but in warmer months, the increased sun sensitivity can also produce the same experience.

As for the duration of treatment, you and your doctor can discuss the matter. You can take, for example, 20 milligram doses for eight months or take 120 milligram doses for four months. You have to weigh the costs and benefits of a shorter or longer treatment plan.

You have to be prepared for the side effects, too, including harsh dryness of the skin, especially around the eyes and lips. You must then be extra-vigilant about applying a facial moisturizer on a regular basis throughout the day to reduce it. You should also immediately inform your doctor when serious side effects as well as undergo the required blood tests, such as the ones for liver inflammation, increase in fats present in the blood, and change in red or white blood cell counts.

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