Accutane – Side Effects And Potential Problems Associated With Its Use

Accutane – Overview

accutane imageAccutane or Roaccutane is the common name for the drug Isotretinoin which is mainly used in this case for the treatment of grade four acne.
Isotretinoin was originally researched and manufactured as a cancer drug, later it was discovered by chance that it can have a very positive effect on severe cases of acne.

Isotretinoin is administered orally and the effects are systemic, this means that it has an overall effect on all parts of the body.

Although treating acne with Isotretinoin has a very high success, it is usually only prescribed as a last resort when all other types of medication have failed to bring the acne under control.

The reason for this is clearly the unwanted side-effects that this drug can cause, some of them are serious and research is continuing into this, as are the lawsuits!

It is without doubt Accutane has helped millions of people get rid of their acne without any serious problems arising, but there is a small percentage of that number that have suffered major problems as a result of taking it.
It is a great shame that such a useful drug has so many potential problems associated with it, you dermatologist will be able to advise you further on this.

Because this medicine is systemic almost all parts of the body can be affected. Generally the effects most encountered by people taking Isotretinoin are related to various eye
conditions and mucous glands in the body.

Common side effects of Accutane include:

  • A worsening of your current acne condition.
  • Dry skin
  • Dry lips
  • Drying of mucous membranes
  • Nail cuticle infection
  • Cheilitis
  • Itching
  • Rosacea (skin condition causing redness)
  • Less resistance to skin abrasions
  • Peeling
  • Rashes
  • Flushing
  • Nose Bleeds
  • Dry and irritated eyes
  • Diffuse alopecia areata (hair loss)
  • Conjunctivitis (eyelid infection)
  • Hyperlipidaemia (high cholestorol)
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Arthralgia (joint pain)
  • Back pain
  • Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
  • Headache
  • Permanent thinning of the skin
  • Temporary or permanent hair loss
  • Increased liver enzymes

Recorded but less frequent side effects

  • A milder worsening of your current condition.
  • Increased blood glucose level
  • Erectile dysfunction in males
  • Increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate (blood)
  • General feeling of fatigue
  • xerosis (abnormal dryness of the skin or mucus membranes)

Rarer side effects of Accutane:

  • Impaired night vision
  • Eye cataracts
  • optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve)
  • menstrual cycle disturbance
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
  • Corneal opacities of the eye
  • Papilloedema (eye problem)
  • Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (headache,nausea, tinnitis, vision problems)
  • Skeletal hyperostosis (degenerative arthritis)
  • Extraosseous calcification (kidney problems)
  • Psychosis (delusions/hallucinations)
  • Depression

Generally the effects most encountered by people taking Isotretinoin are related to eye conditions and mucous glands in the body.

Accutane: Possible Permanent side effects

The following adverse effects have been reported to persist, even after discontinuing therapy:

  • alopecia (hair loss),
  • arthralgias (joint pain),
  • decreased night vision,
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • degenerative disc disease
  • keloids
  • osteopenia (bone mineral density)
  • hyperlipidemia
  • erectile dysfunction
  • psychiatric problems
  • dry eyes
  • dry skin

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are also possibly linked to Accutane, this is still being studied.

Teratogenicity (birth defects)
Isotretinoin is a teratogen and is highly likely to cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy, this has always been known and is never prescribed to pregnant women.

Accutane -Conclusion

In 2002 the makers (Roche) patent for isotretinoin expired, this then led to numerous other companies marketing less costly generic versions of the drug.

In 2009 Roche Pharmaceuticals ceased manufacture and distribution of their Accutane brand in the United States, citing decreased sales and lawsuit defense costs brought by individuals who suffered some of the more serious effects. However their parent company still markets Roaccutane outside of the USA.


However stressed you are about your acne NEVER buy Isotretinoin over the internet. You must only ever take it under professional medical supervision.