Isotretinoin is a medicine used to clear acne.
This medicine works by unclogging skin pores and shrinking oil glands. It can take 6 or more months to fully treat acne. If acne returns after treatment is done, it usually is not as bad as it was before.
Common side effects include dry skin, nose, mouth, eyes, and lips. Some people also feel more tired than usual, sunburn more easily, have problems with night vision, or lose more hair than usual.
Isotretinoin can have serious risks, especially during pregnancy. Just one dose can cause severe birth defects or miscarriage. It can also cause severe headaches, arm or leg pain, or changes in your liver or blood. When taking this medicine, you will have regular blood tests to see how it is affecting your liver, and to check your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Testing is usually done every month.
Some reports state that taking this medicine may increase the risk of getting inflammatory bowel disease. But experts don't have enough information to know if this is true.
There may be a link between this medicine and depression or other serious mood problems. Your doctor will want to know if you have mood changes.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: October 5, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Ellen K. Roh, MD - Dermatology
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