Accutane and Its Effects on the Body

What is Accutane and How Does it Work?

Isotretinoin (more commonly known as its former brand name Accutane) is a drug used to treat severe acne. Currently, the brands available for Isotretinoin are Absorica, Amensteem, Claravis, Myorisan, Sotretm, and Zenatane.


Isotretinoin works by decreasing the size of the sebaceous glands in the skin. The sebaceous glands are responsible for creating sebum, the oil in skin that can clog pores and cause acne. When the sebum is controlled, breakouts stop.


Accutane Side Effects:

The drug is found to be very successful in treating acne when all other options have been exhausted. The reason that doctors typically hold off on prescribing isotretinoin is because of the intense side effects it can have on your body. However, because Isotretinoin has been well monitored, all side-effects are known and can be treated.


Physical Effects:


  • More Acne
    • Before your acne can get better, it will likely get worse at the beginning stages of taking Accutane. Called purging, the drug will push out all dead skin cells, oil, and debris from underneath the skin causing inflammation and more acne. Once this stage is complete, acne will begin to subside.
  • Dry Skin
    • When Accutane stops oil production in your skin, your skin will be very dry and can flake, itch, and peel. Using a heavy moisturizer is recommended to help combat this.
  • Sun Sensitivity
    • Accutane will make your skin very sensitive to sunlight. Use sunscreen and avoid any type of indoor tanning devices.
  • Chapped Lips
    • Again, the drying effect that Accutane has will affect your lips as well. Always have a Chapstick with you to avoid bleeding, cracking lips.
  • Retinoid Dermatitis
    • Occasionally, Accutane can cause a rash on the skin. If you are experiencing dermatitis, reach out to your dermatologist to be prescribed a topical cream to treat this.
  • Teratogenicity
    • Isotretinoin is extremely dangerous for unborn babies. It can cause miscarriage, premature birth, or serious birth defects. Birth defects that can happen are missing ears, hearing loss, missing eyes, cleft palate, and heart defects. If you are female and are looking to start Accutane, you must be on a form of birth control and have no intention of becoming pregnant during the course of treatment.



  • Headaches
    • Accutane can cause pressure in your brain that can lead to headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, and fatigue.
  • Mood changes
    • Some patients experience irritability, nervousness, anger, and sadness while
    • taking Accutane.
  • Depression
    • Occasionally, some patients report depressive episodes or suicidal thoughts. If you begin to feel serious changes in your mental health, contact your doctor immediately.



Tips and Tricks for Accutane:


Things To Do

  • Carry chapstick at all times
  • Use a hydrating face wash
  • Use a moisturizer multiple times a day
  • Use a hydrating body wash and body lotion


Things To Avoid

  • Avoid sunlight, both natural and artificial
  • Do not get skin treatments (laser removal, waxing, dermabrasions, or any other treatments to smooth the skin)
  • Do not take Vitamin A supplements
  • Limit alcohol intake


If you are struggling with severe acne and have exhausted all other options, your dermatologist may speak with you about prescribing Isotretinoin. If you are a good candidate for the medication, you can begin acne treatment.


At Apotheco Pharmacy, we will work with you and your dermatologist to ensure you have the best possible treatment outcome. Contact your local Apotheco Pharmacy retail location or send us a Contact form to learn about our Accutane Program.

This blog is based on research and/or other scientific articles and is written by our experienced Chief Strategy Officer and Pharmacist, Ronak Desai. This blog is fact checked by our educated Pharmacist in Charge, Darshan Patel, who additionally runs our Apotheco Manhattan location.

Here at Apotheco Pharmacy Group, our goal is to provide the most up to date and accurate information on health and dermatology related topics. We do this to ensure our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All blogs undergo an extensive review process before posted.

This blog contains trusted sources. All sources are listed at the bottom of this article with hyperlinks that take you directly to the source.