6 Common Questions About Accutane

Written by Valerie Hanft, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on October 5, 2015 2 Comments


Accutane (Isotretinoin) is a prescription strength acne medication that is extremely effective in treating moderate to severe acne. Here are the answers to some common questions we field regarding Accutane:

Can Accutane make your skin worse?

Given the potency of Accutane it can cause acne flare-ups and irritation over the first few weeks to months of use. This is completely normal and usually resolves itself by the third month of use, where most patients see dramatic improvements to their skin. While each individual can react differently to Accutane, the American Academy of Dermatology cites a dramatic success rate – 85% of Accutane users report that their skin is significantly clearer after the first course of treatment.

Can Accutane use cause skin thinning?

There is no scientific link confirming that Accutane use results in skin thinning. However, Accutane does cause the skin to become more sensitive due to a reduction in the amount of oils produced by the skin. This sensitivity is often confused with skin thinning.

How do I take care of my skin after using Accutane?

After completing a course of treatment generally you should follow a basic skincare regimen centered on gentle moisturizing and cleansing. Around 9 months after your treatment your dermatologist may recommend products and cosmetic treatments to address any acne scarring that remains.

Is it true I can’t drink alcohol while using Accutane?

Because alcohol and Accutane are both processed through the liver there is a potential to cause liver damage. An occasional drink while using Accutane is acceptable, however excessive consumption of alcohol is problematic and not recommended.

Why must I use birth control while taking Accutane?

Accutane is linked to causing serious birth defects and as such women using Accutane must take precautions against getting pregnant. Many times this means using two forms of birth control while using Accutane.

What can I do to cope with skin sensitivity while using Accutane?

There are things you can do to minimize discomfort while you take Accutane. First make sure to drink plenty of water (8-10 glasses daily). Also make sure to use a high quality broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF when exposing your skin to the sun. Finally, use a good moisturizer and lip balm daily to ensure the skin stays properly hydrated.


Valerie Hanft, MD

Valerie Hanft, MD is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology and is a member of the Travis County Medical Association. Dr. Hanft received her Dermatology specialty training at the University of Michigan. Her professional interests are in pediatric dermatology, clinical research and medical dermatology. Dr. Hanft sees patients at our Westlake location.

2 Responses to “6 Common Questions About Accutane”

  1. Avatar Grace says:

    Thanks for posting this article, very helpful. I’m considering Accutane and currently researching everything.

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    Is accutane pretty much the only effective prescription treatment for acne? wondering what alternatives exist.

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