Side effects of Accutane: weight, fertility, etc.


Isotretinoin (Accutane) is a drug that doctors prescribe to treat severe acne. It is a retinoid, which is a class of drugs similar to vitamin A.

According to the British Association of Dermatologists, approximately 90% of people taking Accutane find that their acne improves dramatically, although it can get worse in the short term.

Accutane has a range of side effects, including the most serious. According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA), people should only take isotretinoin under the close supervision of a healthcare practitioner.

This article will look at some of the side effects of Accutane. He will also review the long-term side effects of the drug and provide advice on when to seek medical advice.

Before taking Accutane, and at regular intervals after, people will have blood tests to check their liver and kidney function, as well as their fat and cholesterol levels.

Some common side effects of Accutane include:

  • dry, cracked, or peeling skin
  • dry or inflamed eyes
  • chapped lips
  • a dry nose, possibly with nosebleeds
  • headache
  • aches and pains

People taking Accutane may also have an increased sensitivity to UV light, so they should use sun protection and avoid direct sunlight as much as possible.

Current advice states that people taking Accutane should also avoid waxing or other cosmetic skin procedures while taking the drug and for 6 months afterward. This is to avoid scars.

However, a 2017 review found no evidence to delay cosmetic procedures after using Accutane or products containing isotretinoin. That said, people should only perform such procedures with the advice of an experienced doctor.

People sometimes mention weight gain or weight loss when talking about Accutane. However, the FDA does not currently list weight change as a side effect of this medication.

Risks during pregnancy

It is very important that anyone who is pregnant, is planning to become pregnant, or who could accidentally become pregnant does not take Accutane.

This is because Accutane can cause:

  • miscarriage
  • congenital disabilities
  • premature delivery
  • death in babies

These effects are serious and not unusual. For example, the Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center reports that approximately 20 to 35% fetuses can develop birth defects if exposed to retinoids during pregnancy.

Different countries have introduced various regulatory procedures to prevent fetal exposure to this drug, including requiring people to use two methods of birth control during and after retinoid treatment and to have regular pregnancy tests.

The United States introduced I promise in 2006 in an attempt to eliminate fetal exposure to isotretinoin through a restricted distribution program.

A 2019 analysis have reported that although the number of pregnancies, miscarriages and fetal malformations in people taking isotretinoin has decreased since then, they still occur.

Anyone who is breastfeeding should also not take Accutane.

Allergic reactions

Some people may have an allergic reaction to the ingredients in Accutane.

Fat and cholesterol

Accutane can also increase levels blood cholesterol and fat in the body. Regular blood tests allow doctors to monitor them.

Red and white blood cells

Taking Accutane may cause a reduction in the number of red and white blood cells. Anemia can affect more than 1 in 10 people take Accutane.

The following sections will discuss the potential long-term side effects of Accutane in more detail.

Sexual function and fertility

Accutane does not appear to affect fertility. However, scientists have found a connect between Accutane and sexual side effects, such as:

  • erectile dysfunction
  • loss of libido
  • genital numbness

Mental health problems

There are serious mental health issues associated with Accutane.

For example, Accutane can cause:

  • depression
  • psychosis
  • suicidal thoughts

These serious but rare side effects can also persist after a person stops taking Accutane, so follow-up care is essential.

Neurological problems

Taking Accutane can increase the pressure in a person’s brain. This could lead to permanent loss of sight and, in rare cases, death.

Damage to internal organs

Another possible side effect of Accutane is organ damage. Accutane can damage:

  • pancreas
  • intestine
  • esophagus
  • liver

Bone, muscle and joint problems

Accutane can affect:

  • BONE
  • muscles
  • ligaments
  • joints

People should discuss any exercise they do with their doctor before starting this medication.

Accutane can stop the growth of long bones in teenagers who are still growing.

Blood sugar control and diabetes

Accutane can increase low blood sugar levels and, rarely, lead to diabetes.

Sight problems

People can suffer from loss of night vision (sometimes permanent) and other serious eye problems from taking Accutane.

This medication can also make it difficult to wear contact lenses, and this difficulty may persist after treatment.

Serious skin problems

In addition to the more common minor skin side effects, people have reported severe skin conditions with the use of Accutane.

These include:

  • erythema multiforme
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • toxic epidermal necrolysis

Some of the long-term side effects can persist after a person stops taking Accutane. These can even cause permanent problems, such as scarring, loss of vision, or damage to internal organs.

Some people have had sexual side effects or worsen significantly after stopping treatment, according to one. 2018 review.

Meanwhile, a 2010 study found an increased risk of suicide for up to 6 months after stopping treatment with Accutane. However, the risk of a suicide attempt was higher before the start of treatment. For this reason, it is not possible to confirm any additional risk due to Accutane.

People who are about to take Accutane should talk to their doctor about any other medicines or herbal supplements they are taking.

In particular, people taking Accutane should avoid:

  • vitamin A supplements
  • tetracycline antibiotics
  • corticosteroids
  • any other acne treatment
  • alcohol (or keep it to a minimum)
  • phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • strong sunshine and deckchairs
  • cosmetic procedures for the skin, such as waxing or laser treatment

Accutane can reduce the effectiveness of progestin-only birth control pills, so people taking them should talk to their doctor. Likewise, taking St. John’s Wort may mean that birth control pills are less effective.

People taking Accutane should see a doctor if any of the minor side effects persist and cause them difficulty.

Other symptoms may indicate serious illness. These include:

  • symptoms of depression or psychosis
  • indications of increased brain pressure, such as:
    • bad headache
    • Blurred vision
    • dizziness
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • seizures
    • stroke
  • a severe rash that may blister or peel, sometimes with flu-like symptoms, conjunctivitis, or sores in the mouth, eyes, nose, or throat
  • possible abdominal problems or symptoms of organ damage, such as:
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • stomach ache
    • diarrhea
    • bleeding from the rectum
    • chest or bowel pain
    • the skin or the whites of the eyes turn yellow
    • dark urine or difficulty urinating
  • muscle weakness and pain
  • swelling or bruising in certain areas of the body
  • difficulty moving the arms and legs
  • ringing in the ears or worsening of hearing
  • vision problems or dry eyes that hurt
  • an allergic reaction
  • dark urine

If anyone notices these symptoms while taking Accutane, they should stop taking the medicine immediately and call a doctor.

People with back or joint pain should also see a doctor.

Also, anyone who breaks a bone should tell the doctor who is treating them that they are taking Accutane.

Accutane is an effective treatment for severe acne, but it has serious side effects, including mental health issues and risks associated with pregnancy.

Anyone who is considering taking this medication should have a detailed conversation with their doctor about the risks and how to reduce them.


About Sally Dominguez

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