Accutane is a very strong acne treatment that helps many people eliminate acne. Because it is such a powerful medication and certain precautions must be taken to ensure safety, sometimes patients get confused or anxious when they start their regimen. It’s OK! By following your doctor’s instructions and taking precautions seriously you may be on the way to getting the clearer skin you always wanted.
Q: Accutane is making my skin worse! Why?
A: It is normal for acne to get worse when you first start Accutane. This flare-up can last from a few weeks to a few months and varies between individuals. Every individual responds to Accutane differently. Although most patients will see improvement by the third month, some may not see improvement until the fourth month, so do not give up hope just yet. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 85% of patients will see their skin clear after one course of treatment. For some patients a second course of treatment may be beneficial.
Q: Does Accutane thin the skin?
A: There is no evidence that Accutane causes skin thinning. Accutane causes the skin to become fragile, or more sensitive, due to the decrease in oil production. People wrongly attribute this fragility to thinning. Evidence actually suggests that Accutane causes a thickening of the epidermis.
Q: What kind of skin care plan should I follow after Accutane?
A: Your skin care regimen after Accutane should be limited. Moisturizing and gentle cleansing for the first half a year after taking Accutane is ideal. After 6-9 months some dermatologists will recommend working on any scarring left behind from the acne, which can include fraxel laser treatment, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and creams.
Q: Can you drink alcohol while on Accutane?
A: Accutane is a medication that is processed through the liver. Alcohol is also processed through the liver. If they are being processed together there is a potential to cause permanent liver damage that could be identified through blood work, as well as kidney side effects. A drink occasionally is usually OK, but excessive drinking can lead to more substantial problems.
Q: Do I really need two forms of birth control when using Accutane?
A: Yes, most definitely. Accutane can cause serious birth defects. The precautions against getting pregnant while on Accutane should be taken seriously. Always use two forms of birth control when you are taking Accutane and for a month after you have stopped treatment.
Q: How is my dose determined?
A: Acne treatment with Accutane is dosed based upon your weight in kilograms. We usually dose it 1 mg for each 1 kg of weight. So if you are 132 lbs= 60 kg (132lbs/2.2=60 kg) we try to keep at about 60 mg of medication or even a little higher. Ask your doctor to go over your dosage choices.
Q: What are the alternatives to Accutane?
A: Alternatives to Accutane include topical medications, as well as prescribed oral antibiotics. Chemical peel treatments are also an alternative that can help to reduce acne by unclogging pores. Accutane is highly effective for severe acne, but alternatives may be considered for milder cases.
A few more tips for when you are on Accutane:
- Drink plenty of water – about 8-9 glasses a day.
- Use a moisturizer like Cetaphil daily.
- Always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen when your skin will be exposed to the sun.
Still have questions about your Accutane treatment? If you want to find out if Accutane would be a good option for you, schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified dermatologists. We have offices throughout New York and New Jersey and many treatment options to help you clear your acne.