Accutane Acne Treatment – How Does It Work?

If you suffer from acne, one of the medications that you should be aware of is Accutane which is the commercial name for the medicine called Isotretinoin. Here is some more information on what Accutane is and how it works.

What is Accutane

Accutane is the commercial name for the medicine called Isotretinoin which is a powerful and effective treatment for severe forms of acne. While it has been prescribed to hundreds of thousands of people for over 20 years, this drug is not for everyone.

Isotretinoin is derivative of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a natural forming chemical that is produced inside our bodies, specifically in the liver. The liver makes small quantities of vitamin A which serve many functions. Some of the more common functions vitamin A serves is dealing with bone and vision, as well as being essential to having healthy skin.

Isotretinoin is an extremely potent form of vitamin A and is one of the many drugs and treatments used to effectively minimize acne vulgaris (common acne) as well as other less common types of acne.

Accutane is the commercial name used by Roche pharmaceutical company; besides Roche, there are a few other pharmaceutical companies that produce Isotretinoin. They include :

  • Accure by Alpapharm
  • Isohexal by Hexal Australia
  • Amnesteem by Bertek
  • Oratane by Douglas Pharmaceuticals, and
  • Claravis by Barr.

It should be noted that these medications are all Isotretinoin; however dosage and contents may differ slightly. Isotretinoin is used quite frequently for severe forms of acne usually acne vulgaris, it is extremely effective against the production of sebum (oil that is produced in hair follicles) and ultimately prevents black heads and other types of pimples from forming.

While it is not fully understood how Isotretinoin reduces production of sebum, most physicians state that it is effective because it alters DNA transcription. The end result is that patients with severe acne that take Isotretinoin as directed should see a noticeable decrease in the size and amount of pimples for a long period of time.

Accutane Side Effects

It should be noted that Accutane is a not a mild drug, it can have severe side effects and for certain individuals can be extremely dangerous. The use of accutane must be prescribed by a physician and in the United States additional steps must be taken before Accutane can be prescribed and used.

Unfortunately, Accutane can cause birth defects to women that are pregnant while using the drug, in addition, many patients have encountered other side affects, some mild, and some severe such as mood changes, dry skin, nose bleeds and hair loss among many others.

Before using the drug, make sure you consult with a doctor and if in the United States you will most likely need to complete a form from iPledge, which states that if you are a female and using Isotretinoin that you will not try to get pregnant.

In addition if you are sexually active, your doctor might consult with you in order to educate you on birth control and prescribe birth control for you if necessary. You might even be asked to use two types of birth control to minimize the risk of pregnancy.

While Isotretinoin can work wonders for those suffering from severe acne, it is important to consider the side effects as well.

How Accutane Works

Accutane is a prescribed medication for people that are suffering from severe forms of acne. It is a commercial name for the chemical compound called Isotretinoin which is a form of vitamin A and one of the most effective treatments of acne available.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been prescribed Isotretinoin over the more than 20 years that it has been available. It should be noted that there are side effects that can be present and that they range from mild to severe. Isotretinoin is only available through a prescription and since some of the side effects can have huge consequences (e.g. birth defects for those that are or become pregnant while on Accutane, certain procedures must be followed.

For sever acne sufferers, Isotretinoin can be extremely effective. For instance, for those that are suffering from cystic acne vulgaris, acne rosacea and hidradentis suppurativa. While it is not fully understood how Isotretinoin exactly works, it is known to be extremely effective in reducing the production of sebum.

Sebum is an oily substance and most commonly referred to as the normal oils that are secreted by the skin (in this case in the facial area). Sebum is produced by sebaceous glands. These glands are inside each hair follicle in the skin. Hormones in the body can sometimes send messages to these sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum (oil), oil builds up within the hair follicle or can get clogged inside the hair follicle causing bacteria (p. acne) to feed off of the sebum and infect the hair follicle. Once the hair follicle is infected white blood cells are called in to kill the p. acne bacteria (the result are pimples).

Isotretinoin fights acne by reducing the sebum production and shrinking the sebaceous glands. This straightway slows down or stops the amount of pimples forming. It means that it works by way of altering transcription of DNA which eventually lowers the quantity and severity of acne.

Isotretinoin is orally ingested usually once a day and can come in a variety of dosages depending on each individual patient. However, dosages usually are between 50 mg per day and 200 mg per day. Most patients that are prescribed Accutane are on the medication for about four to six months. It is said that in many cases, once Accutane is stopped, the effects can linger for months or years, in essence many patients do not exhibit signs of acne for months or years to come. It should be noted that Accutane works best after eating a high fat meal.

Since the acne treatment is for only the most severe cases, most dermatologists will start acne sufferers on other types of treatments before prescribing Isotretinoin. These treatments can consist of topical solutions, antibiotics, laser surgery, etc. Usually Isotretinoin is the last resort for severe acne sufferers.

Because this drug is extremely effective at reducing sebum it continues to be prescribed, however most doctors will take an enormous amount of caution consulting with you and prescribing the medication to you to prevent and control any side effects from occurring.

Who Can Benefit From Accutane?

One of the questions that many acne sufferers ask is what are the most effective acne treatments on the market? For many acne sufferers, perhaps the most effective treatment for serious types of acne is Accutane.

Isotretinoin is not for every acne sufferer. In fact, since there are many side effects associated with Accutane, it is generally prescribed as a last resort or for only the most serious acne cases.

If you are suffering from acne, and your acne is mild or moderate, most likely Isotretinoin is not for you. Since it is a controlled drug, a prescription is necessary from your doctor. One of the most important things you can do to treat your acne is to consult with your dermatologist.

While there is no cure for acne, the good news is that for the most part acne in all of its forms is treatable. Consulting with your dermatologist can help you find the best treatment available usually through experimenting with a few different products and medicines. Because acne affects everyone differently, many times it is necessary to try several treatments to find the one that works best. For most severe acne suffers, Isotretinoin is only prescribed after several treatments have failed.

The drug works by reducing the amount of sebum (oil that is produced within the hair follicles of the skin) and sebaceous glands. While the exact mechanism is not known, many doctors state that this medicine works by DNA transcription.

Usually Isotretinoin is prescribed for three main types of acne, they are: cystic acne vulgaris, acne rosacea and hidradenitis suppurative. It is commonly prescribed for four to six months and benefits of the treatment can be seen for years after treatment has taken place.

Treating acne with Isotretinoin can have adverse side effects on the patient. If you are seeking an Isotretinoin treatment it is important to talk with your doctor about the possible negative side effects. Side effects can range from mild to moderate. Mild side effects include dry skin, nose bleed and dry eyes. Moderate side effects can include hair loss, a raised glucose level and mood changes. Severe side effects can include birth defects for those women that are or become pregnant while on an Accutane acne treatment.

Before, during and after treatment of Accutane it is important to monitor possible side effects that you may have experienced and consult with a doctor or health professional if they continue. Because of these side effects, individuals that wish to become pregnant or are sexually active without using birth control should not take Isotretinoin. In addition, if you have experience mood swings or are depressed, you should definitely consult with a physician before beginning treatment on Isotretinoin.

Because of the dangerous side effects that some individuals can experience, the FDA has implemented a program to reduce the risk of the most dangerous side effects called iPledge. Information on iPledge can be found on the FDA s web site, as well as during your consultation with your doctor.