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Prescription and Medication what is Isotretinoin

Isotretinoin is an anti-acne drug. It is usually prescribed to treat severe cases of acne that have failed to respond to other forms of treatment.

Acne is medically referred to as acne vulgaris, and it is the result of an excess production of the natural oil within the skin, known as sebum, and this leads to a blockage within the hair follicles. Acne is mostly prevalent among adolescents, but it can arise in anyone, sometimes as a side effect of certain drugs, or due to exposure to various chemicals, and as a result of hot conditions. In severe cases of acne, painful and inflamed cysts can develop, and it is mostly found within the skin on the face and neck, and the back and chest.

Creams and lotions that treat acne are known as topical preparations, and oral forms such as Isotretinoin are referred to as systemic treatment. Isotretinoin reduces the production of sebum along with the protein known as keratin, and this is referred to as a keratolytic effect, it results in the loosening of the dead cells on the surface of the skin.

Isotretinoin is manufactured in capsule form and dosage is prescribed on an individual basis, although it is usually taken 1 – 2 times daily with food. Treatment last for approximately three to four months and during the initial stages the skin becomes dry, it may flake and is generally itchy, however these effects diminish as the treatment continues, and a course of Isotretinoin usually completely clears the acne.

Common Side Effects

Dry skin

Nose bleeds

Joint and muscle pain

Inflammation of the eyes and lips

Rare Side Effects





Abdominal pain


Serious Side Effects

Liver damage

Visual impairment

Inflammation of the bowel

During pregnancy, Isotretinoin is never prescribed, this is because it can cause birth defects, and it is for this reason that women should not conceive during treatment.

Isotretinoin raises the levels of fat within the blood; therefore it is not usually prescribed to those who regularly drink alcohol, and this is because there is an increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

It is not recommended that Isotretinoin is prescribed in conjunction with Tetracycline antibiotics, as this increases the risk of pressure within the skull, therefore headaches, nausea and vomiting are more likely to be experienced.

If impaired vision, or nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhoea occurs during Isotretinoin treatment, then the drug should be stopped and a doctor immediately contacted.