What Are Long-Term Side Effects With Taking Accutane?

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Accutane is the brand name for the drug isotretinoin, which treats severe acne. According to the Mayo Clinic, Accutane can also be used to treat bacterial skin infections, abnormal sweat glands, rosacea and other skin disorders.

Because of its many side effects, doctors only give Accutane as a last resort after giving other less intense acne medications and treatments.


Certain conditions increase the risk of side effects of Accutane. A patient must fully disclose any pre-existing medical conditions to her health care provider. Furthermore, studies have not been conducted on children less than 12 years of age. To ensure safety, children under 12 should not take Accutane. Before women can take Accutane, they must prove they are not pregnant prior to taking Accutane and will not become pregnant while on Accutane. A monthly pregnancy test is required prior to the first dose and up until one month after discontinuation of the medicine.


According to the Mayo Clinic, Accutane should be taken with food and a full glass of water. The amount prescribed is based on the patient's weight. People who aren't initially satisfied with the results of Accutane should contact their health care provider before adjusting the dose on their own. Taking more or less than the recommended amount can increase the risk for side effects.

Side Effects

Many side effects are associated with Accutane. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common side effects include eye irritation, bone and/or joint pain, nosebleeds, inflamed lips, and rash. Other less common effects are depression, inflamed gums, back or abdominal pain, mood swings, blurred or decreased vision, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, sore muscles, and a yellow color to the skin or eyes. People taking Accutane who experience any of the more severe effects should call their health care provider immediately.

Accutane and Pregnancy

Accutane is associated with a high risk of birth defects. Women of child-bearing age must take precautions against becoming pregnant while taking Accutane. Typically, a doctor will require a woman to use two forms of birth control if she isn't abstaining from sex while on Accutane. Women also must call or visit the website www.ipledgeprogram.com in order to receive their monthly Accutane prescription. The goal of this program is to ensure that women don't begin taking the medication while pregnant or become pregnant while taking Accutane.

Accutane and Breastfeeding

According to the Mayo Clinic, no studies have been conducted about the safety of Accutane for women who are breastfeeding. In order to ensure there is no harm to the child, women should avoid Accutane while breast feeding.

Acne Treatment

According to acne.com, acne can lead to depression, low-self esteem and anger. For patients with severe emotional struggles with acne, Accutane may be worth the risk. However, people who aren't as emotionally affected by acne should try a milder, less risky approach. Either way patients need to have a detailed discussion with a health care provider to learn all of the facts about Accutane prior to use.