Isotretinoin is a medication primarily used to treat severe cases of acne that have not responded well to other treatments.

. It is a derivative of vitamin A and is sometimes referred to by its brand names, for example, Roaccutane (or Accutane in the US). Isotretinoin works by reducing the size and activity of the sebaceous glands in the skin, which are responsible for producing oil. By doing so, it can significantly decrease the production of sebum (skin oil), which is a major contributor to the development of acne.

What are the side effects of Isotretinoin?

Isotretinoin is typically reserved for cases of severe acne or when other treatments have been ineffective.


It has potentially serious side effects and requires close medical supervision.  Some of the common side effects and considerations associated with isotretinoin include:

  1. Dry skin and mucous membranes: Isotretinoin can cause dryness of the skin, lips, and eyes. This dryness can be significant and may require the use of moisturizers and lip balms.
  2. Teratogenicity: Isotretinoin is known to cause severe birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Because of this, women of childbearing age must use strict contraception while taking the medication and adhere to a pregnancy prevention programme.
  3. Monitoring: Patients taking isotretinoin are monitored closely by healthcare professionals to check for any potential side effects, such as liver function abnormalities and changes in cholesterol levels.
  4. Mental health effects: There have been reports of mood changes and depression in some individuals taking isotretinoin, so mental health should be monitored during treatment.
  5. Other side effects: Isotretinoin may cause a range of other side effects, including joint and muscle pain, vision changes, and increased sensitivity to sunlight.


Due to its potential risks and side effects, isotretinoin can only be prescribed by dermatologists. It is essential for patients to follow the dermatologist’s instructions closely while taking isotretinoin to minimise risks and maximise the benefits in treating severe acne.

For all these reasons, if you are prescribed isotretinoin by a dermatologist at Derma, you will be seen monthly and have regular blood tests so that we can monitor your safety and make sure you get the best outcome. 

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