How to look after your skin during your Roaccutane treatment
Maintaining a good skincare routine whilst on Roaccutane (Isotretinoin) is important as it commonly causes dry, flaky skin making it more sensitive. Dry cracked lips are another common side effect. You will need to build up a skincare routine that suits you and this can be different for everyone. The main aim is to keep your skincare and lip care routine simple. You only need to use a cleanser and a moisturiser, as well as sun cream. We recommend that you stop all other skincare products, particularly exfoliating acids, such as salicylic acid, benzyl peroxide and any other topical abrasive agents. When you are looking for products to use, they should all be non-comedogenic and oil-free.
Cleansing is important whilst on Roaccutane to try and remove any dirt, makeup and sun cream from your skin. You should aim to cleanse your skin once or twice a day. Even though your skin may usually be oily, whilst you are on Roaccutane, using a hydrating cleanser maybe more appropriate, such as CeraVe hydrating cleanser, Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser or La Roche-Posay Toleriane hydrating gentle cleanser.
It is important to use a daily moisturiser to try and treat the dry skin and this can be repeated as often as needed throughout the day. Again, this will depend on what suits your skin but products that we tend to recommend include CeraVe moisturising lotion, CeraVe moisturising cream, Cetaphil moisturising cream, La Roche-Posay Cicaplast balm. As a result of the dryness and increased sensitivity your skin may become redder which can be distressing. Regularly moisturising will help and other treatments that you can try (only if needed) include The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% or SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 serum.
It is important that you use sun cream whilst you are on Roaccutane as the medication does increase your sensitivity to sun, which can make your skin go redder and you are more likely to burn easily. Your sun cream should be reapplied every 2 hours and you need to use a sun cream that has a broad spectrum, i.e. provides both UVA and UVB protection and ideally an SPF 50. Products that we tend to recommend include La Roche-Posay Anthelios lotion and Altruist SPF 50 face fluid sun cream.
It is not enough to have SPF in your moisturiser as this will not provide long lasting protection.
Dry, cracked lips is an extremely common side effect whilst on Roaccutane and it is important to use a regular product throughout the day to protect your lips and again at bedtime. You want to try and avoid products that contain strong fragrances, eucalyptus, menthol or salicylic acid. Products that we tend to recommend include Vaseline, Eucerin Aquaphor ointment for lips and La Roche-Posay Cicaplast balm.
Your scalp will become dry, which for most is a positive side effect as you don’t need to wash your hair as often but for others it can become flaky. If this happens then you can moisturise your scalp with some olive or coconut oil at bedtime and wash it out in the morning. Shampoos that can help with the flaking include Dercos Antidandruff shampoo or Kerium DS shampoo.
You may experience some extra hair fall which can be a side effect of Roaccutane, but it will be temporary and settle once you complete the course. If it is problematic then you may need to stop the medication.