Isotretinoin capsules, often known by the brand name Roaccutane, are a very efficient treatment for severe acne. The active ingredients are derived from vitamin A and take a multi pronged approach.
The primary aim is to reduce the level of oil production from your sebaceous glands, which lubricate the skin. This also helps to reduce the number of bacteria on your skin and to reduce inflammation.
Isotretinoin success rates are high, with 4 out of 5 people having clear skin after treatment. The approach normally takes a couple of months to work and you may need to carry on a while longer but the effects continue after ceasing treatment.
Why Not Always Use Them?
Good medical care comes from the approach of maximum effect from minimum intervention. Many cases of acne are mild and can be effectively managed with creams, antibiotics, laser therapy, or other skin treatments.
Isotretinoin is reserved for more serious cases, where pimples, nodules, or cysts are more pronounced and scarring may be evident, or likely in the future. Or where other treatments have been tried on milder acne and not worked well.
The medication should only be prescribed by an experienced dermatologist, who will take care in assessing your suitability. Although the medication is safe in most cases, there can be unwanted secondary outcomes.
Possible Side Effects
Having drier skin, or lips may not happen but is relatively common. This can be managed by applying a moisturiser (oil free), or lip balm. Keeping showers, or baths a little shorter and at a lower temperature will also help.
Additional sun sensitivity is possible, avoiding too much sun exposure and using oil free sunscreen will be worthwhile, even on cloudy days.
Less common side effects include a dry mouth, or throat, headaches, joint, or muscle pain, at a level controllable with over the counter medication. More serious skin rashes, stomach, or bodily pain are possible but rare.
Isotretinoin treatment has been associated with increased anxiety, or depression. The evidence for this is limited but caution is worthwhile, especially if a patient has previous incidences of depression.
There is however a counterbalance to the concern. Research, such as this study has confirmed that serious acne increases risk of depression, or anxiety and reduces self worth, effective treatment has wider benefits.
We should stress that serious side effects occur in less than 1 in 1000 cases. They can often be mitigated by altering individual dosage and part of the reason for follow up appointments is to see they are avoided.
The exception to this relates to childbirth, Isotretinoin can harm an unborn child. Women need to use effective contraception before, during and after treatment, breast feeding during treatment is also an issue.
As with any medication, care needs to be taken, which is why you should use Isotretinoin under the supervision of a specialist consultant. They are there for you at appointments and in between.
In the vast majority of cases, Isotretinoin treatment at our London clinic is safe and effective. The likely outcome is well ahead of most other forms of treatment for serious acne and straightforward, oral medication is easy to manage.
Our team will be pleased to arrange an initial appointment with a consultant experienced in acne treatment, or offer any advice you need. Please get in touch on 020 8441 1043, or send an email via the Make An Appointment button below.