Accutane is the most effective medication for acne treatment. Lots of myths surround this medication. Today, we’ll try to bust them and figure out the truth about this medication.
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Accutane is a brand name of the drug that used to be sold on the US market until 2009. That year the manufacturing company Roche officially stopped the production and distribution of Accutane. However, this medication hasn’t gone from the market. It’s just the brand name that no longer exists. Now, you can buy this drug under its generic name – isotretinoin.
This medication is undoubtedly the best in the treatment of severe nodular acne. However, the concerns surrounding its safety became a strong blow at the reputation of isotretinoin. The number of annual prescriptions for this drug decreased significantly within the past years. Still, almost 345 thousand people received their prescriptions for isotretinoin in 2019.
Accutane is a retinoid, which means it is a vitamin A derivative. Isotretinoin affects the activeness of sebaceous glands, reducing the amount of sebum – facial oil – produced by the skin. This allows avoiding pore-clogging, infection, inflammation, and other things that accompany the appearance of acne cysts.
The effects of the medication are not immediate. You shouldn’t hope to get clear skin the next day you start treatment. Isotretinoin, though highly effective, needs time to work. It may take from two weeks to two months to notice any improvements. However, judging by the before-after photos of people who have already tried it, Accutane is worth your patience.
Treatment with Accutane bears multiple health risks as this medication has a strong influence not only on the skin but also on the mucous membranes. You may develop nasal bleedings, mouth and eye dryness, thinning hair, and other symptoms that may affect your quality of life. However, all these will go away soon after you stop treatment. The only difference between the before and after periods will be the quality of your skin. But let’s leave this for later and get down to the myths surrounding Accutane.
In 1998, the FDA issued a warning for general practitioners regarding the risks of depression and suicide in people taking isotretinoin. This document had little support evidence behind it, as there were no reliable proofs of Accutane intake causing depression.
In 2019, the research presented at the AAD Annual Meeting provided healthcare professionals with strong evidence of Accutane having no impact on the mental health condition of people taking it. Information about more than 38,000 people with acne was involved in the study. According to the results, 3.77% of people taking Accutane developed depression. Yet among those who were not exposed to Accutane, the rate of depression reached 4.81%.
Why has this myth appeared? The reason is that acne itself significantly affects the mental well-being of a person. And cased of depression among people with acne are not rare. Such people often lack self-confidence. They distance themselves from their family and friends, limit their social contacts, and stay alone with their problem.
The intake of Accutane helps them resolve their appearance problems, boosting their self-confidence and improving their quality of life overall. Very often isotretinoin intake becomes a push out of depression, so we guess this myth is busted.
Another myth related to the intake of Accutane is the growth of risks of developing inflammatory bowel disease, particularly ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. While some studies have found a link between isotretinoin intake and ulcerative colitis, no evidence of Accutane causing Crohn’s disease has ever been found.
Besides, some scientists say that both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease may have an insidious onset, which doesn’t allow diagnosing the disease at an early stage. So it is possible that visible symptoms of the disease appear after the beginning of treatment with Accutane only. The analysis of cohort and case-control studies couldn’t provide enough evidence of a consistent association between isotretinoin and inflammatory bowel disease. Myth busted.
Accutane can’t be called a safe drug. It can kill an unborn baby and provoke severe adverse reactions. Almost all people who take it develop some side effects. However, when evaluating the benefits-risks ratio, Accutane wins in most cases. There is no better drug for severe nodular acne. Accutane often becomes the last resort for those who have already tried everything to clear their skin of pimples, blackheads, and nodules. So if you want to try treatment with Accutane, do it but don’t forget to consult your dermatologist first.