Side Effects of Accutane

Accutane side effects

Accutane (isotretinoin) is a medication prescribed for treating severe nodulocystic acne. Although there is no absolute cure for acne, Accutane is the most effective treatment available today. However, it is considered quite a controversial medical treatment because of its possible side effects. Therefore, you should weigh all the pros and cons before starting the Accutane therapy.

Below, you will find a number of the most widely known side effects of Accutane treatment.

Birth Defects and Miscarriage

Accutane must never be taken by a woman during pregnancy. This medication is extremely dangerous for a developing foetus, as even one dose of it can lead to severe birth defects or miscarriage.

Women taking Accutane should use two forms of birth control starting a month before the therapy and continuing for a month after. They also should undergo pregnancy tests regularly.

Dry Skin and Mucus Membranes

Accutane acts by shrinking the sebaceous glands, which normally causes dryness of the skin, lips, eyes and nose.

During the therapy, you will likely need to use a moisturizer daily. Applying a light moisturizing lotion may not be enough to combat dry skin caused by this medication. Therefore, it is recommended to use more emollient creams. Make sure that the products you use are noncomedogenic and are not clogging your pores. You can also use various salves to moisturize your lips and the skin inside the nose.

Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

Depression, psychosis and suicidal thoughts might also occur after using Accutane. These are the most publicized side effects of the medication, although they are very rare.

Even though the risk of experiencing such effects is low, you should report any changes in your mood and behaviour to your doctor. The warning signs may include frequent irritability, sadness, trouble concentrating, hallucinations, or thoughts of suicide. If you experience any of these, contact your doctor immediately.


Sunbathing is contraindicated during Accutane treatment therapy. One of the side effects of isotretinoin is increased sensitivity to the sun, also known as photosensitivity, which means your skin is more susceptible to sun damage.

Every day during Accutane treatment, you are required to wear a sunscreen with an SPF of minimum 15, even if you have never been noticeably sensitive to the sun. It also strongly recommended to avoid tanning beds and booths.

Elevated Blood Triglyceride Levels

Accutane may be causing high blood triglycerides, a type of fat contained in your blood. Increased levels of triglyceride in the blood can cause other health complication including heart disease.

Therefore, your doctor will check your blood before and during the Accutane treatment course to ensure that your triglyceride levels are stable and safe.

Other Side Effects of Accutane

Accutane also causes a range of other side effects, including thinning hair, troubles with night vision, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or rectal bleeding, headache, fatigue, chest or abdominal pain, and difficulty swallowing.

Despite the large amount of potential side effects, Accutane remains the most effective medication for severe acne and can become a wonder drug for patients suffering from such a condition. If you think that Accutane might be the right treatment option in your case, discuss this question with your doctor.