Accutane or Roaccutane is a prescription-only medication designed to combat severe acne that hasn’t responded to antibiotics. The particular type of acne is called recalcitrant nodular acne. Some dermatologists will provide prescriptions for lighter cases but that’s not ethical given the cost/benefit analysis. We only recommend trying this product if safer options haven’t worked.
Accutane is effective against adult acne and teen acne but it’s also been implicated in some serious side effects such as gastrointestinal problems, fever, seizures, and depression leading to suicide. It can also cause miscarriages and birth defects. Women should not take this medicine while nursing.
What is Accutane?
Accutane is a pill produced by Roche Pharmaceuticals. It’s the most-prescribed version of the generic drug isotretinoin. Isotretinoin is a retinoid and a very powerful form of Vitamin A. It works by slowing the production of sebum, which is a substance that clogs pores. Most patients are instructed to take a pill twice daily with food.
What precautions should I take with Accutane?
Accutane was once a chemotherapy drug. When taking this drug, you might feel as if you’ve suddenly become a serious patient instead of just somebody with an acne problem. You will start to have many health risks. Besides being sensitive to sunlight (as you’d be with many other acne treatments), you might be unable to see at night. You’re advised against playing sports because the medicine can weaken your bones. You can’t get your legs or other body parts waxed for six months because you’ll risk lifelong scarring. You should also be prepared to experience signs of serious depression. These are just a few of the precautions to take with Accutane.
How serious are the health risks with Accutane?
As mentioned above, Accutane or isotretinoin is so potent that it used to be used as chemotherapy. All patients who take Accutane must sign an iPLEDGE consent form. Signing this pledge indicates that they understand the special health risks of Accutane. Men are advised that Accutane might be present in semen and could lead to birth defects. Women who are biologically able to conceive children must make some important promises about using two forms of contraception and taking pregnancy tests before they can receive Accutane refills.
Other possible side effects of using Accutane include:
- Loss of appetite
- Severe stomach pain
- Severe depression leading to suicide
- Loss of feeling in one side of the body
- Hearing loss
- Blurred vision
- Seizures or convulsions
- Body pain
- Joint and back pain
- Dry lips/front facial area
- Cracked skin
Does Accutane interact with other drugs?
Yes. You should definitely inform your doctor about all medicines and supplements you’re using. Just a few of the medications that interact with Accutane include medicine for seizures, oral steroids such as prednisone, tetracycline antibiotics and vitamin A supplements.
How much does Accutane cost?
Prescriptions cost up to $400.
Would you recommend Accutane?
We really do not recommend trying Accutane. The health risks are too severe: weak bones, depression leading to suicide, an inability to see during nighttime driving, seizures, hearing loss, and dozens more. Check out our other reviews for safer prescription and non-prescription acne treatments.