For those with infrequent breakouts or blemishes, topical acne products usually do the trick to removing them. For others who deal with constant acne, scars, and deep breakouts, over-the-counter products might not be as effective. For this, you might seek out, or have a recommendation by a dermatologist, to use isotretinoin, the drug found in the popular brand, Accutane.
But what exactly is Accutane? Who is a good candidate for it? What are the benefits and side effects? And most importantly, does it actually work?
What is Accutane?
Accutane is usually brought out as the last resort for patients that have stopped responding to other treatments. Many professionals count Accutane as the most effective treatment for acne-prone skin, especially for deep pimples where topicals can’t penetrate deep enough to be effective.
Because acne is the result of over production of sebum (oil), isotretinoin is used to reduce this oil production and make pores less clogged — depriving the skin from a bacteria-infested environment.
What are the benefits of Accutane?
It will depend on your doctor’s recommendation when they factor in your acne severity, age, weight, and lifestyle, but many people start with 40-60 mg of Accutane a day as a standard dose.
Accutane is typically recommended for 4-6 months in order to effectively reduce sebum production and curb its output forever. It works after stopping as well, as it helps shrink oil glands, keeping breakouts from happening going forward. This is because it cuts off the stimulation muscle for the oil glands.
Most people who are on Accutane, see results after just a few weeks. They start to see their skin really clear up in the 3 and 6 month marks. And because it tends to be a permanent fix (a small percentage of patients go on it a second time), people tend to enjoy their journey to clearer skin.
What are the side effects of Accutane?
Formed from Vitamin A, isotretinoin should not be taken in conjunction with other Vitamin A supplements. Because Accutane stops all oil production in your skin (natural oils as well), it can sometimes cause dry or chapped skin as a side effect.
Accutane is also really sensitive in the sun so it’s always good to apply ample amounts of sunscreen (are you surprised?) if you go on the treatment. Other side effects include redness, nose bleeds, and sores in the mouth.
Photo via Renee Rouleau