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What Is Isotretinoin

what is isotretinoin

Important Information

Isotretinoin in just a single dose can cause severe birth defects or death of a baby. Never use isotretinoin if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.

You must have a negative pregnancy test before taking isotretinoin. You will also be required to use two forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy while taking this medicine. Stop using isotretinoin and call your doctor at once if you think you might be pregnant.

What is isotretinoin?

Isotretinoin is a form of vitamin A. It reduces the amount of oil released by oil glands in your skin, and helps your skin renew itself more quickly.

Isotretinoin is used to treat severe nodular acne that has not responded to other treatments, including antibiotics.

Isotretinoin is available only from a certified pharmacy under a special program called iPLEDGE.

Isotretinoin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Should I Take Isotretinoin?

Isotretinoin is meant to be taken only by those with severe acne. If you have mild to moderate acne, your doctor will have you try other acne medications first.

Of course, not everyone is a candidate for isotretinoin treatment. But if you have already tried other acne treatments without much success, if your acne is quite severe, or if you have widespread acne of the back or body, isotretinoin may be an option.

Your doctor is your best resource, so ask for her opinion. Even if isotretinoin isn't the treatment for you, your doctor will have other treatment  options available so it's worth making that appointment.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Isotretinoin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • red, cracked, and sore lips
  • dry skin, eyes, mouth, or nose
  • nosebleeds
  • changes in skin color
  • peeling skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
  • changes in the nails
  • slowed healing of cuts or sores
  • bleeding or swollen gums
  • hair loss or unwanted hair growth
  • sweating
  • flushing
  • voice changes
  • tiredness
  • cold symptoms

Symptoms of overdose

  • vomiting
  • flushing
  • severe chapped lips
  • stomach pain
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • loss of coordination

Anyone who has taken an overdose of isotretinoin should know about the risk of birth defects caused by isotretinoin and should not donate blood for 1 month after the overdose. Pregnant woman should talk to their doctors about the risks of continuing the pregnancy after the overdose. Women who can become pregnant should use two forms of birth control for 1 month after the overdose. Men whose partners are or may become pregnant should use condoms or avoid sexual contact with that partner for 1 month after the overdose because isotretinoin may be present in the semen.

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to isotretinoin.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

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