The Most Controversial Questions About Isotretinoin


It has been medically established that in a majority of cases drug medication Isotretinoin also known by its brand name (Accutane) provides a long term (and sometimes a permanent) cure for acne breakouts. Unfortunately for some patients (a third of all patients)who undergo acne treatment using this drug medication have found that acne actually manages to reappear after the end of the treatment course. 

The Most Controversial Questions About Isotretinoin

Does it really cure acne?

To fully answer this question, you need to what the four causes of acne are which comprise:

  • Excessively oily skin
  • Skin pores that are clogged up
  • The presence of P. acnes on your skin
  • The occurrence of inflammation

What Isotretinoin does is fight the battle with all four of these causes for the development of acne. The main treatment for combating acne is that of taking a medication pill daily which will typically continue for four to five months.

The goal for combating acne is to forge together a cumulative dose that’s based on your body weight, that will induce a positive response, according to Dr. Kathleen Suozzi. 

In essence achieving this cumulative dose is the most efficacious cure there is for acne breakouts and in most cases, the cure of acne by using isotretinoin is long term and sometimes permanent.

In some cases however, a recurrence can take place and the optional treatments that can be offered may involve the continuation of the current treatment as a topical or oral medication or that a new 

treatment course using Isotretinoin should be started. 

What about birth defects?

If you are taking Isotretinoin and it’s possible for you to get pregnant, you must use the Monk Markus/Flickr methods of birth control.

The reason why you’d want to do this is that isotretinoin can cause very serious fetal birth defects, pre-term births and miscarriages.

If you can in fact get pregnant and you’re taking this drug medication, you need to confirm that you are in fact using two types of birth control, as explained by AAD. 

You should also need to take a monthly negative pregnancy test at your doctor’s office to qualify you to take home a month’s supply of isotretinoin pills.

The risk of causing a birth defect is the reason why you can’t donate your blood while you’re taking isotretinoin (and a full month after you take your last pill).

The reason is clear enough since if you donate your blood and it reached a pregnant woman, the unborn fetus may be in harm’s way.

The drying out of your skin

If you are vulnerable to having your skin dried up from taking isotretinoin you need to invest wealth in acquiring lots of moisturizer.

The truth is that isotretinoin can reduce the amount of oil produced in your skin. 

It’s this tendency that makes it an ideal treatment for acne and also the reason why dry skin and lips are the most common side effects of this drug medication.

This known reality caused Souzzi to comment that “Pretty much every patient is going to have dryness because that’s how it works,” she said.

Other more common side effects include burning red or itchy eyes, skin rashes, nosebleeds, bone and joint pains and many others.

Will you become over sensitive to sunlight?

You should be aware that while you’re taking isotretinoin, you need to be extra careful and alert .

It has been explained that some people taking isotretinoin may experience more sensitivity to sunlight. 

The reason given is that the drug medication is actually thinning out the stratum corneum which is the top layer of the skin and when sunlight hits the skin where it’s being thinned, it’s not able to bear the heat.

Will you become over sensitive to sunlight?

Is drinking alcohol when taking isotretinoin harmful?

It’s been said that isotretinoin and alcohol are not good companions but if you really want to know the full story, you should discuss it with your dermatologist.

Some believe that drinking alcohol may put and additional strain on your liver when you are already taking isotretinoin. 

The reason for this is that your liver filters isotretinoin from your bloodstream to allow the body to use it.

The trouble is that your liver also filters alcohol in the same manner which means that when you mix the two together, your liver will be doing the same process twice resulting in an extra burden for your liver to carry.

This problem may cause your dermatologist to advise you to reduce your intake of alcohol or you abstain from enjoying the beverage while you’re taking isotretinoin. 

However you should bear in mind that there are no concrete guidelines on which you and your dermatologist can touch base to find the most suitable course to take.

Will you go bald if you take isotretinoin?

Hair loss does occur when you take isotretinoin but is usually mild. 

Even so, it’s a popular worry among potential isotretinoin users who find difficult to accept that this drug medication can cause hair loss.

Nevertheless, it’s a great relief to know that even thou hair loss can be caused by taking isotretinoin, it’s only a temporary condition,

The usual thing that happens is that hair growth will go back to normal once the user stops taking the drug medication.

Even you fingernails can become thinner and softer during the treatment course but will also return to normal when the treatment stops.

Would your vision be impaired?

It’s been suggested that isotretinoin can actually affect the clarity of your vision but it will only affect certain people.

As already said, isotretinoin is a vitamin A derivative and it’s known that taking high doses of vitamin A derivatives can temporarily affect your vision.

Your vision can be affected to such an extent that you find it difficult to see at night. However, it’s known that your vision usually becomes normal again after you stop taking the medication.

It has been stressed that if you are using isotretinoin, and you feel a strange vision change developing, or other worrying side effect, you should promptly notify your dermatologist.

Will you become depressed or suicidal?

Recent evidence has confirmed that there’s no connection between taking isotretinoin and getting a higher risk of being depressed. 

However, a supposed link between isotretinoin and mental health issues is both controversial and disturbing. 

The FDA received 431 reports of suicide attempts suicidal ideation, actual suicides and depression in U.S. nationals who take isotretinoin. 

In one specific case, Accutane was blamed by a US congressman for having caused his 17 year old son to commit suicide.

Despite these reported incidents, there has not been a single case that confirms any causal connection. This means that scientific evidence has been unable to confirm that isotretinoin does in fact cause these states of mental health issues.

Will you become depressed or suicidal?

Does isotretinoin cause inflammatory bowel disease?

 The purported link between isotretinoin and inflammatory bowel disease is another controversial issue.

 However, yet again, conclusive scientific evidence to prove that there is a connection is lacking. 

While it has been suggested that isotretinoin may be linked with IBD type called ulcerative colitis, a nationwide study of French people found there was no such link between the two.


Numerous avenues have been covered by the written content in this article and most, if not all of them delve into the various downsides of taking isotretinoin for treating their acne. One gets the feeling that isotretinoin is a versatile drug medication that has proven its efficacious attributes by treating severe acne that have not responded to other drug medications. A lot of ground has been covered on this drug medication and we hope you’ve received your share of useful information. We’ve had good experiences ordering here, so if you’re looking for isotretinoin, give it a try.

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