Many teens and young adults struggle with severe acne. This type of acne is characterized by deep, painful cysts and nodules that can be difficult to treat. Additionally, as this type of acne begins to clear, the skin easily scars. For decades, dermatologists have been prescribing Accutane, which is an extremely potent form of Vitamin A, to fight severe acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments. It has also greatly helped patients who struggle with severe scarring acne. But while Accutane is a strong drug with many known side effects and restrictions, there’s also a lot of myth surrounding this prescription, especially how it affects a patient’s skin and body. In this blog post, Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains how Accutane works and what you can expect while on this medication.
Accutane is successful because it targets all four causes of acne, Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains.
Accutane is the only acne treatment that fights all four causes of acne: excess oil production, clogged pores, P. acnes bacteria and inflammation. More specifically, Accutane reduces the amount of oil your skin produces, eliminates acne-causing bacteria and reduces skin inflammation. By stopping the source of ‘food’ for the bacteria by drying up the oil, the bacteria die and this usually contributes greatly to improvement. This treatment also slows down how fast skin cells turn over inside the pore, preventing them from becoming clogged in the first place. Because this treatment targets acne from every angle, it is very effective at eliminating breakouts. Nearly 85 percent of patients see significantly clearer skin after one course of treatment, which usually lasts between four to five months. Better yet, 73 percent of Accutane patients never have to repeat a course and are clear thereafter.
As with any medication, Accutane does have side effects, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.
Some common side effects of Accutane include dry skin and chapped lips. Dermatologists recommend keeping your skin well hydrated while on this medication. Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends FixMySkin Healing Balms with 1% Hydrocortisone to his Accutane patients. Available for the lips and body, this medicated balm has chemical properties that go beyond moisturizing to relieve itching and heal skin. The hydrocortisone treats inflammation and irritation while moisturizing shea butter and cocoa butter provide relief from dryness and itchiness.
There are widespread concerns that this medication has been linked to inflammatory bowel disease and possibly even suicide and depression. Studies have since proven that IBD is not associated with Accutane. Additionally, studies on the correlation between Accutane and depression have not been conclusive. Many dermatologists have found that once a patient’s acne clears up, their depression subsides. As with any medication, dermatologists monitor their patients closely for signs of any side effects. Further, long-term studies are currently being performed.
The most concerning side effect can occur if a woman becomes pregnant while on Accutane. This medication can cause severe birth defects, premature birth and even miscarriage. It is important that women do not take Accutane while pregnant and do not become pregnant while taking this medication. For this reason, all patients who can become pregnant must take pregnancy tests before and while taking Accutane.
Do you have questions about Accutane for Dr. Joel Schlessinger? Share with us in the comments.