What Is Isotretinoin?

So What Is Isotretinoin?

A lot of people have heard of Isotretinoin, but they aren’t quite sure exactly what it is. So what is Isotretinoin? It’s is a retinoid (i.e.: derived from Vitamin A) and is a prescription drug that is usually prescribed to people with severe cystic acne, who have not had any success with other known acne treatments. It’s very effective in treating severe types of acne that cause deep painful nodules and cysts. The US Food and Drug Administration first approved oral Isotretinoin as a treatment for severe acne in 1982. Some people may remember it as Accutane, which was first marketed by Hoffmann-La Roche.
To date, the drug’s efficiency has not been superseded by any other treatment available and remains one of the most clinically effective anti-acne medications that produce long-term remission as well as significant improvement in many patients. The downside is that there are some side effects to this drug that you need to be aware of, and other important information, so please continue to read.

Clinical Benefits of Oral Isotretinoin

Most individuals who receive oral Isotretinoin will see a noticeable difference within a few months and may also be completely free of acne by the end of a four to six-month treatment, depending on the dose administered. It is also being used to treat patients with mild acne, but in much lower doses. If the acne is treated at early stages, it can cure the condition permanently. Although there are some cases where patients who’ve had advanced acne reported resurgence of some spots.
Although acne may be worse within the first month of using the drug, the ultimate results are usually great. This drug works to achieve complete clearance of acne and usually has a very high success rate in people who complete the entire treatment, regardless of whether they have inflammatory or non-inflammatory acne. The problem for some is that the side effects prevent them from completing the treatment. (More on that below).


Known side effects of Isotretinoin

Here is a common list of side effects that you may notice if you take this drug:

  • The most common side effect that people report is dry skin and lips. So much that they had to implement a new regime/habit of daily moisturizing to combat the side effect.
  • Some patients have reported being severely depressed once treatment has begun. Other patients have reported having a lack of concentration, changes in behavior, as well as aggressive tendencies.
  • Digestive disorders, joint and bone pain, numbness, diarrhea, stomach pains & nausea, hearing loss & other problems, severe headaches.
  • Birth defects if taken while pregnant.

This is just a quick overview of the side effects. Unfortunately, there are much more than that and we strongly recommend that you review the more detailed list available at RXList, if you decide to go down this road.

Products That Contain Isotretinoin

  • Isotrex gel – One product that contains Isotretinoin is the Isotex gel; this product is used to treat mild to moderate acne. It can also help you to reduce wrinkles and it is also used to prepare the skin for laser treatment or as an aftercare treatment.
  • Roaccutane and Accutane – All products that contain Accutane or Roaccutan contain the Isotretinoin. Actually, both are brand names of the active ingredient Isotretinoin. All products containing these ingredients will help you in reducing and treating the severe and mild acne. If you take these products orally, they work by reducing the skin’s natural oil sebum, which is the main contributor of acne.
  • Differin Gel – The Differin gel is another product that contains Isotretinoin. This gel works under the skin to unclog the pores, clear the acne and prevents future acne breakouts. You can use this gel once a day in the evening as directed by your healthcare provider.


Isotretinoin is clearly effective in clearing even the toughest of acne outbreaks and the overall cost effectiveness as compared to a 3-year therapeutic regiment of rotation antibiotics shows that the four to six months of Isotretinoin is significantly cheaper. However, there are numerous side effects that you need to take into consideration if you decide to take this drug.
Disclaimer– Please keep in mind that we are not dermatologists here at Acne Help Today. This was posted for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor and/or dermatologist regarding you health/acne issues.

2 thoughts on “What Is Isotretinoin And Should I Use It For My Acne Outbreaks?

  1. I tried it before… Works great except I did have the ‘numbness’ side effect. Felt more weird than anything else, but at least it worked.

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