Roaccutane & Acne
Isotretinoin is a powerful prescription acne drug. It is commonly sold under the brand name Accutane in the United States and Roaccutane in the United Kingdom. Prior to the development of isotretinoin, the primary modes of treating severe cystic acne were ongoing antibiotic treatment and treatment with benzoyl peroxide cream. Isotretinoin is the most effective treatment available for severe acne. Despite the efficacy of isotretinoin, the drug is intended for use as a last resort when less potent treatments have failed.
Isotretinoin is reserved for treating chronic cystic or nodular acne after other dermatologic treatments have been ineffective. Cystic or nodular acne often causes permanent or disfiguring scarring, and treatment with isotretinoin may be indicated to prevent this. In addition, severe cystic acne can be very physically painful as well as emotionally damaging. Isotretinoin has been proven effective at completely eradicating even very severe case of cystic acne with permanent results typical.
Isotretinoin treatment requires a great deal of responsibility from both the patient and physician. A physician may choose not to initiate treatment or stop treatment due to patient noncompliance. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should not take isotretinoin or hold off pregnancy until a minimum of 30 days after the medication is stopped. Isotretinoin has a high risk of causing very serious birth defects, miscarriage and infant death in babies born to women who have conceived while on isotretinoin or who have taken the drug during pregnancy.
Complete and permanent results are typically seen after one course of treatment. According to AcneNet, a website of the American Academy of Dermatology, a single course of isotretinoin treatment lasts about four or five months and involves taking one to two pills daily. Women must have two negative pregnancy tests prior to initiating treatment as well as one negative pregnancy test per month throughout treatment and 30 days after treatment. Registration with the iPLEDGE program is required, which involves calling once a month to answer questions about the iPLEDGE program and to report pregnancy test results. Patients return for monthly appointments with their physicians throughout the course of treatment.
Isotretinoin comes with a long list of potential side effects, some of which may be severe. According to MedlinePlus, common side effects include dry skin, dry mucous membranes, peeling skin, bleeding gums, hair loss, cold symptoms, tiredness and voice changes. Serious side effects that must be reported immediately include headache, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, seizures, difficulty speaking, chest pain, new onset heartburn, vision problems, ringing in the ears, fever, rash or jaundice. Patients can find a comprehensive list of serious side effects in the prescription information included with the medication. All side effects should be reported to the treating physician.
Isotretinoin may increase suicidal thoughts in people who suffer from depression or are prone to suicidal ideation. It may also bring on new onset symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts in those with no prior history of depression. These symptoms typically subside once the medication is stopped. Isotretinoin may also limit night vision, which may come on suddenly at any time during treatment. Caution should be taken to avoid accidents when driving or operating machinery at night. Decreased night vision may continue after treatment has been stopped.
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