Sometimes patients come to us with very severe acne that consists of nodules, cysts, and pustules on the skin. Many times, this deep cystic type of acne has already left scars on the skin and is causing distress to the patient. Often, we will see patients with acne that has been treated for years with different oral antibiotics, topical creams, washes, and other in-office procedures, yet it still does not improve.
Severe, painful acne can significantly affect your quality of life. Grades may suffer, social isolation may occur, and job performance may suffer. In these cases of severe acne or unresponsive acne, a medication called Accutane® (Isotretinoin) may be discussed as a curative option. Accutane is a pill form of Vitamin A that, when ingested, helps reduce oil production, inflammation, bacteria levels, and clogged pores. For many, treating acne with Accutane provides a curative option for the acne that has been plaguing them for years.
Accutane is a highly regulated medication because it can cause side effects such as headache, dry eyes and skin, nosebleeds, vision changes or mood changes. Accutane is not allowed for use by women who are planning a pregnancy, currently pregnant, or breastfeeding because of the harm it can cause to the baby. Accutane also causes significant skin sensitivity so excess sun exposure, facials, and skin waxing should be avoided while you are on the medication.
Most patients who complete a course of Accutane with a licensed, trained dermatology provider see results within a few months and finish the total treatment course within 6-8 months. Accutane is commonly taken as one to two pills per day, and every month you are on this medicine you will be seen by your dermatology provider.
If you have been suffering from painful, severe, scarring acne or have been using prescription medications for your acne that have not been working, Accutane may be an option for you.
Brooke Moss, PA-C, MPH is a board certified Physician Assistant specializing in medical and cosmetic dermatology. She is currently accepting new patients in our Edina and Downtown Minneapolis locations.