Dermatologist Recommended

Accutane Side Effects

Girl after accutane acne treatment

Accutane is one of the best acne treatments out there with many benefits. Accutane is the drug of choice for severe acne and for people with moderate acne that did not respond to regular treatment.

Why isn't everybody with acne using Accutane?

Accutane comes with some contraindications and possible side effects:

1. Accutane can cause birth defects in pregnant women.

Pregnancy during Accutane is absolutely contraindicated. Women must use two separate effective forms of birth control simultaneously for at least 1 month before treatment begins, during the entire course of treatment, and for 3 full months after stopping the drug.

2. Does Accutane cause mood changes?

There were some concerns that Accutane may intensify mood changes in people prone to depression in the past.
Nevertheless, the link between Accutane to depression was not proven. Many Dermatologists actually believe that mood changes are caused by severe acne and not by the drug. Thus, Accutane treatment, stopping acne, is expected to improve the mood. If one feels unusually sad or has a loss of appetite during Accutane treatment, the drug should be stopped, and the physician should be consulted.

3. Blood tests

During the treatment, blood tests are required to test blood count, liver function tests, blood lipids, and CPK. In rare cases, these function tests can be affected by Accutane. In most cases, the blood test results normalize after the dosage of the drug is reduced.

4. Minor discomfort

Some dryness of the skin and the lips is expected due to dry lips and skin. Simple lip balms and oil-free moisturizers can easily decrease lip and skin dryness. People using Accutane should wear sunscreen at all times.

dryness of the lips during acne treatment with accutane

5. Flare-up of acne during Accutane treatment.

When Accutane is severe, and Accutane dosage is high, acne can flare and get worse. Adding blue light acne phototherapy in parallel to Accutane and reducing the drug dosage can significantly reduce the risk of an acne flare-up without reducing treatment efficacy.

Interactions of Accutane with other medications

Vitamin A supplements: High doses Vitamin A supplements has many of the same side effects as Accutane. Taking both together may increase your chance of getting side effects.
Tetracycline antibiotics: Tetracycline antibiotics (including Solodyn and similar) taken with Accutane can increase the brain's chances of getting increased pressure.
Progestin-only birth control pills: They may not work while taking Accutane.
Dilantin (phenytoin): This medicine taken with Accutane may weaken your bones.
Corticosteroid medicines: These medicines taken with Accutane may weaken your bones.
St. John's Wort: This herbal supplement may make birth control pills work less effectively.

The full list of possible side effects of Accutane (Isotretinoin).

The most severe effect of Accutane is birth defects (deformed babies). Thus, it should never be taken during pregnancy.

Common side effects of Accutane:

The standard, less serious side effects of Accutane are:

  1. Dry skin – need to use more of your facial moisturizer.
  2. Chapped lips – buy a good lip balm and use it a few times a day.
  3. Dry eyes - If you wear contact lenses, you may have trouble wearing them while taking Accutane. Ask your doctor for some artificial tears.
  4. A dry nose that may lead to rare nosebleeds.

Rare possible side effects of Accutane:

Increased brain pressure: this can be manifested by nasty headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and seizures (convulsions)

Stomach problems: Belly pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding

Back joints and muscles: Back pain, joint pain, muscle weakness.
May decrease long bone growth in teenagers who are still growing.

Night vision: Accutane may affect your ability to see in the dark. This
condition usually clears up after you stop taking Accutane, but it may be

Change of mood: Many Dermatologists doubt the relationship between Accutane to mood changes, but mood should be monitored.

Fat and lipid levels: Accutane can raise the level of fats and cholesterol in your blood.
These problems usually go away when Accutane treatment is finished.

Read more:

The oral adverse effects of isotretinoin treatment in acne vulgaris patients: A prospective, case-control study.

Isotretinoin: Treatment for severe acne

To find the right acne treatments for your unique skin, take the free skin assessment by clicking here.

Image callout

Start your journey
to clear skin

  • Custom acne treatment cream, cleanser and moisturizer
  • Unlimited Dermatologist support
  • Ongoing skin monitoring