Isotretinon is an oral retinoid that is derived from Vitamin A and is commonly used as the last option to treat severe acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments. It is manufactured under the trade names Absorica, Absorica LD, Myorisan, Zenatane, Claravis, and Amnesteem.
What Does it Do?
Isotretinoin works by reducing the size and output of the oil producing glands in the body. This makes it so that your skin is not producing excess oil, which can clog up your pores and lead to the appearance of pimples. Because of this, isotretinoin is commonly used to treat severe nodular acne, but can also be used to treat other conditions off-label.
It may take several weeks before you begin to see the effects of isotretinoin. In some cases, your acne may get worse in the beginning of the treatment, but don’t worry as this is normal and is not a sign that the treatment is not working. Even after finishing your treatment, you may still see improvement in your acne.
How to take Isotretinoin
Isotretinoin is usually taken twice a day with meals, or in some cases without meals, for a duration of about 5 months. It is also important that you do not take more or less than what your doctor has prescribed to you. This is done to avoid the development of severe side effects.
When taking isotretinoin, it is important that you swallow the capsules whole with water. Do not chew or crush the capsules unless recommended by your doctor. Most brands of isotretinoin are taken with a healthy, fatty food to increase their absorption. Foods such as peanut butter and avocado will work just fine. The exceptions to this are Absorica and Absorica LD which have a higher absorption rate than the other brands, thus negating the need to be taken with food.
Some of the most common side effects of isotretinoin are dry skin, dry eyes, chapped lips, and increased sensitivity to sunlight. Due to these side effects, it is recommended to use moisturizer, lip balm, and sunscreen when taking this medication.
Other side effects include hearing impairment, vision changes, muscle and joint pain, and depression. Make sure to consult with your doctor if you begin to notice any changes in your mood or behavior.
Isotretinoin may also lead to an increase in your cholesterol levels and changes in your liver or pancreatic function. Your doctor will continue to monitor these changes as deemed appropriate.
Pregnancy and Isotretinoin
It is important to note that if you plan to get pregnant or already are, you should avoid taking isotretinoin. The reason for this is because it can cause birth defects such as heart defects, intellectual disabilities, abnormalities, and miscarriage.
Isotretinoin must only be prescribed by doctors who are registered and activated within iPledge. Under the iPledge program, women of reproductive potential are required to choose two birth control methods, and take a monthly pregnancy test. She then has seven days from the date of her pregnancy test to obtain the prescription, or she will have to start the process over again. Males and females of non-reproductive potential must obtain their prescription within 30 days of their office visit.
If you have any questions about the medication you were prescribed, feel free to contact us at claRx Big Country Dermatology Pharmacy. We want to make sure that you are well informed about your medication.