Accutane (oral isotretinoin) has become a very controversial drug because of Accutane side effects. Although some of the side effects after taking Accutane can be tragic, close monitoring of patients after taking this medication can avoid the worst of the potential adverse reactions.
Currently, there is probably no other drug available at this time that can treat and often clear severe, scarring, disfiguring acne. Many acne sufferers have even considered their Accutane treatment to be life saving. When there is appropriate counseling and monitoring, Accutane can be an effective solution for people with severe, scarring acne.
Taking one Acutane pill twice a day is relatively easy for most patients. The side effects after taking Accutane may include tightness and dryness of the skin, especially the lips.
Dry, chapped lips, dry mouth and dry eyes are not uncommon side effects. Contact lens wearers may be affected. Moisturizers will help relieve your dry skin condition. Skin fragility may also occur, especially on the hands. Nosebleeds, hair loss, headaches and joint pain may also occur.
A less common side effect is a secondary infection with a bacterium called S. aureus. This can be treated with topical or oral antibiotics as necessary. Some patients have also noted muscle aches and backaches, and some have mild headaches at the start of therapy. Be careful not to take any alcohol.
There may be more serious side effects such as colitis (an inflammation of the colon’s mucus membrane), impaired night vision which can make it impossible to drive after dark, increased lipid levels in the blood, elevated liver enzymes and hepatitis. All of these effects are reversible, they typically disappear once the drug is stopped.
You will be required to undergo blood tests every month so that your doctor can review your serum lipids to monitor your progress. Any patient with severe headaches, decreased night vision, or signs of adverse psychiatric events should immediately stop taking Accutane and call his or her doctor.
Accutane is a potent teratogen, meaning that it is well known to cause birth defects in children whose mothers get pregnant while taking Accutane or within one month after stopping Accutane. Adequate contraception is therefore essential.
Some physicians believe that Accutane does produce very occasionally but unpredictably mood changes, depression and other psychiatric side effects. It is very important to discuss these issues with your doctor and to also let your doctor know whether you have been treated in the past for depression or suicide attempts, or whether you have a family history of depression.
It is important for both the person taking Accutane and for their family members to be educated regarding the potential for mood swings and depression during Accutane therapy. Patients on Accutane generally receive a checklist of warning signs that urges them to stop taking the drug and immediately contact their doctor.
If you start to feel sad or have crying spells, lose interest in your usual activities, experience changes in your normal sleep patterns, become more irritable than usual, lose your appetite, become unusually tired, have trouble concentrating, withdraw from family and friends, or start having thoughts about hurting yourself or committing suickde, be sure to contact your physicaian immediately. In most cases, psychosocial events associated with severe acne most often improve once the acne starts to clear.