Isotane for Acne
The vast majority of teenagers suffer from acne. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 85 percent of American teens will have pimples this year. In most cases the acne lesions will clear with simple solutions such as good skin care and help from over-the-counter acne medications. However, some people have severe acne that warrants aggressive measures. If you're one of them, your dermatologist may recommend the prescription medication Isotane for your acne. The drug works very well to curb acne but also carries a risk of some serious side effects.
Acne results from hormonal surges that are common in puberty but also can occur in adults, according to the Cleveland Clinic. When the body produces too much of the hormones called androgens, those hormones overstimulate the glands in the skin that produce oil. The oil then travels to the skin's surface and clogs pores, and bacteria then proliferates, leading to inflammation and infection. When you have severe acne, you often have cysts or nodules, which are pockets of infection deep within the skin. Without treatment, cysts and nodules often cause bad scars.
Dermatologists prescribe Isotane, also known by the generic name isotretinoin, for severe acne. Isotane, a synthetic form of vitamin A, generally can knock out severe acne more quickly than any other treatment, according to the AAD. The drug treats all four factors that cause bad acne: too much skin oil, clogged pores, inflammation and bacterial infection.
If your dermatologist prescribes oral Isotane for your acne, you'll most likely take it once or twice a day for four to five months, according to the AAD. Patients often notice their skin drying out very quickly, and pimples begin to disappear within a few weeks of the start of treatment. Isotane works for almost every patient, and many achieve remissions of their acne that last for months, years or even permanently.
Although Isotane works very well to curb severe acne lesions, the AAD notes that dermatologists cannot prescribe it for every acne patient due to the risk of severe side effects. The most serious side effects involve pregnancy: Isotane can cause severe birth defects in a developing fetus, and so the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires women of childbearing age to take a series of precautions, including pregnancy tests and birth control, to ensure they do not become pregnant while on Isotane.
Other potential side effects of Isotane for acne include severe abdominal or chest pain, difficulty swallowing, severe headache, and bone and joint pain, according to the AAD. In addition, patients have reported severe depression and suicidal thoughts while taking isotretinoin, and the FDA recommends close physician monitoring of all patients taking the drug for acne. Simply discontinuing the drug may not be enough to cure depression or alleviate suicidal thoughts, the FDA reports.
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