Isotretinoin is used to treat severe forms of acne that do not respond to other therapies.

What is Isotretinoin?

Isotretinoin is a derivative of the vitamin A. It works by reducing the production of sebum by the skin and changes its composition. It also prevents excessive keratinization of the skin.

How should Isotretinoin be taken?                

Isotretinoin may be administered orally (usually in the form of capsules) or in less severe cases, in topical forms that can be directly applied to the skin. Some formulations for oral use may require taking the medicine on a full stomach.

Side effects associated with Isotretinoin

Isotretinoin is teratogen and should not be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding or if you are in a process of conceiving a baby. It may also cause sudden drop in night vision, intolerance to the use of contact lenses, chapped lips, increase sensitivity to the sun, weaken bones and affect your blood sugar.

Among the other possible adverse effects are included:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Ocular dryness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Dry nose and nosebleeds
  • Headache
  • Temporary worsening of acne

You should immediately contact a doctor if taking Isotretinoin triggers any of the following symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Urticaria
  • Itchy skin
  • Difficult breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue
  • Increased unwanted hair
  • Bleeding, redness or swelling of the gums
  • Bone pain
  • Changes in the amount of produced urine
  • Chest pain
  • Dark urine
  • Painful or difficult swallowing
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fainting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty hearing or tinnitus
  • Pain in joints or back
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Nausea
  • Sunburn
  • Psychological or psychiatric problems
  • Bruising or red spots on the arms or legs
  • Peeling and red skin, skin swelling or blistering
  • Convulsions
  • Severe headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach pain or sensitivity
  • Suicidal instinct
  • Swollen glands
  • Pressure in the eyes, vomiting, vision problems
  • Fever, chills or sore throat
  • Symptoms of a stroke
  • Severe stomach or back
  • Severe gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Lung tightness
  • Bleeding
  • Changes in voice
  • Jaundice

Contraindications and warnings associated with the use of Isotretinoin

Isotretinoin may affect the ability to drive or operate hazardous machinery, especially when taken together with alcohol or other drugs. It can also compromise the effectiveness of the so-called "mini-pill".

Isotretinoin must not be taken with tetracycline or drugs derived from vitamin A.

Moreover, before starting the treatment it is important to tell your doctor if:

  • You have any allergies to the active substance, its excipients, other medicines or any food
  • You are taking other medications, herbal remedies and supplements, especially medicines that can weaken bones (corticosteroids or anticonvulsants), tetracyclines, St. John's wort, drugs derived from vitamin A or a birth control pill in progestogen-only (minipill)
  • You suffer (or have suffered, or have a family history) from mental or mood disorders, asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides, heart disease, liver problems, osteoporosis or other bone problems, disorders nutrition, hearing problems, gastrointestinal or pancreas disorders or irregular menstrual cycle
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding