What is Accutane?
Accutane is an oral retinoic acid which is comprised of Vitamin A in synthetic form. It is recommended to patients who have severe acne problem and are not getting satisfactory results from any other medications. Accutane helps in healing acne by reducing the excess sebum from the skin. Acne or blemishes is caused when skin secretes excess sebum, Accutane makes the skin dry creating unfavorable environment for development of acne. This medication Accutane was first used in the year 1979 and patients experienced drastic and permanent relief from the problem. However, since then the use of Accutane has been very controversial because it was believed that intake of this medication can lead to permanent side effect that will last for years. Doctors recommend not to mix then medicine with any other medicine.
How Does Accutane Work in Treating Acne?
Accutane works in four different ways to prevent development of acne:
- Accutane reduces the number and size of oil glands and drastically minimizes the amount of oil produced by these glands.
- Oily skin creates a favorable environment for development of bacteria causing acne. Hence, reducing the amount of oil secreted by skin also reduces the amount of acne causing bacteria.
- Accutane also slows down clogging of skin pores.
- Last but not the least Accutane has anti infection properties that helps in preventing any sort of bacterial infection.
In the first month of taking Accutane, some patients feel that the condition of acne is becoming worse. But in the next month people see positive results. Patients who complete the dosage cycle enjoy either partially or permanent recovery from acne and blemishes. Relapse rate is directly dependent on the dose prescribed by the doctor. Further, type of acne and its severity decides where second treatment is required for permanent clearance of acne or not. Dose of the medicine depends on the weight of the patient i.e. 0.5 to around 1 milligram per kg of patient’s weight.
Other deciding factors that may enhance the possibility of relapse include:
- Not consuming sufficient amount of dairy fat when on isotretinoin
- Severe level of acne
- Women having PCOS i.e. poly-cystic ovary syndrome
Low Dosage of Accutane: Usually, doctors prescribe very high dosage in the initial phase of treatment but for a shorter duration. However, as patients started to face severe side effects because of the high dosage, so now doctors have started prescribing low dosage but for a prolonged period of time. Opting for low dosage for an extended period of time also reduces the side effects of Accutane faced by patient. Research has revealed that the amount of Accutane collected in the body is the key factor to decide whether the treatment will be a success or not.
Intermittent Dosage: In this, patients are prescribed to take Accutane for one week in the entire month. The logic of intermittent dosage is that it will not produce much side effects but at the same time the success rate of this dosage is also very less. Hence, people are given this dosage take long time to recover from the problem of acne. The dosage is prescribed to only those patients who are more prone to get affected with side effects or who are comfortable with taking the treatment for long duration.
Side Effects of Accutane
Back ache, joint ache, dizziness, drowsiness, itching, dryness of skin, mouth, nose are the general side effects caused when taking Accutane. Side effects of Accutane can either me moderate but will have severe and long term side effects. Patients who are pregnant or planning a baby soon should inform their doctor beforehand, so that doctors will prescribe medication considering the same. Also inform the doctor if you are on any other medication.