Isotretinoin: A Dangerous Cure To Acne

01 Feb 2020

Share blog on:

Unless you are one of those lucky few who have been blessed with good skin, almost everyone suffers from acne at some point in their lives. Acne is estimated to affect over 9% of the global population, making it the eighth-most prevalent disease worldwide. [1]

The struggle with acne can be frustrating and may result in body and self-esteem issues. From lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and regular exercise to over the counter finds, there are various types of treatments available for acne as per your skin type.

But, what really causes acne? Acne is a result of excessive production of facial oil or sebum. The excessive oil blocks the sebaceous glands and causes a build-up, leading to acne and inflammation. This is where isotretinoin steps in – it is one such drug that revolutionized acne treatment [2]. 

Why Did Isotretinoin Become Popular?

Also popular by its now-defunct brand name Accutane, isotretinoin is an oral form of Vitamin A and works by reducing facial oil production. People with severe acne are often prescribed this drug and Isotretinoin has proved to be effective in cases where all other medications have failed. The drug helps kill the bacteria in the pores that can cause acne and inflammation. It also reduces the size of the oil glands, resulting in a lower secretion of facial oil or sebum. In some cases, people taking this drug have reported lasting results. Whereas, others said that the acne came back after they stopped taking Accutane or isotretinoin. 

Ill Effects Of Isotretinoin 

While varying degrees of success has been widely reported on this pill, there are several serious health risks and side effects that one must know about [3].

Birth Defects: Before the side effects of the drug were known, doctors would freely prescribe Isotretinoin to pregnant mothers. Since then birth defects are recognized as one of the most severe side effects isotretinoin [4]. There are strict guidelines regarding the drug and women who are required to be on birth control pills before starting and a month after discontinuing their prescription. If you are trying to conceive, isotretinoin should be avoided at all costs.

Dryness And Irritation: Since isotretinoin works by decreasing the amount of oil in your skin, chapped lips and dry skin are common side-effects. It is advisable to religiously apply moisturizer and lip balm to combat this effect. Some people also experience dryness and irritation in the eyes. Blurred vision is another side-effect.

Increased Sensitivity To The Sun: Isotretinoin makes your skin increasingly photosensitive, leaving you prone to sunburn and other serious health issues. While on medication, avoid excessive exposure to sunlight and UV and use a sunblock before you step out.

Mood Swings And Depression: People using the drug have reported drastic changes in mood. Studies suggest that Isotretinoin increases the risk of experiencing depression and/or anxiety [5]. In the 2000s, there were multiple lawsuits filed against Accutane alleging that the drug caused suicidal tendencies in teenagers. The drug is also known to cause headaches and bouts of dizziness.

Increased Cholesterol: Studies indicate that Isotretinoin can increase the levels of cholesterol in your blood [6]. If you have diabetes, are obese or have metabolic issues, you are at a higher risk of this. Therefore, before you start the medication, it is important to undergo relevant tests to gauge your health.

Remember, Isotretinoin is a serious and powerful drug and although it can be used quite safely under supervision, it is generally only used as a last resort in serious cases. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor or dermatologist before you decide to use it. 

References:

  1.     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25597339
  2.     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835909/
  3.     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6383167/
  4.     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19961047
  5.     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6347928/
  6.     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5958563/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help is always at hand! Connect with us on Whatsapp