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The Use of Isotretinoin for Acne Treatment : Benefits vs Side Effects

benefits versus side effects of isotretinoin for acne treatment

As an acne sufferer, you might have Googled remedies or asked family and friends for acne treatment product recommendations. You’ve probably heard of popular acne medications like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These seldom function for people with moderate to severe acne. If this describes you, you should think about using Isotretinoin. Continue reading to find out all you need to know about isotretinoin

What is Isotretinoin Used For? 

It is used to treat nodulocystic acne at the stage where scarring has occurred. Nodulocystic acne is a type of extreme acne that appears as large, red, and painful pus-filled cysts deep within the skin.

Isotretinoin is derived from Vitamin A. Patients who have tried and failed all other conventional acne skin treatments in Singapore will find isotretinoin to be helpful. It treats extreme acne, lessens the visibility of acne scars, and prevents future scarring.

isotretinoin is derived from vitamin A

How Does Isotretinoin Work? 

This is the only acne treatment that addresses all four acne-causing factors:

  • excess oil production
  • clogged pores 
  • too much bacteria 
  • Inflammation

Isotretinoin is useful in treating acne that reacts well to vitamin A. Why? It mimics the molecular structure of vitamin A.

What does Isotretinoin do? Its main effect is to reduce sebum production. Sebum causes oily skin, which then binds dead skin cells together. They clog pores, allowing bacteria to grow and cause inflammation and acne.

The skin can shed dead skin cells more regularly after sebum production is decreased. This results in less inflammation and clogged pores, reducing acne.

How Do I Use Isotretinoin? How Long Will I Have to Take it? 

According to the official Isotretinoin website, treatment lasts 4 to 5 months. In some patients, the treatment course can be longer depending on the dosage. As a general rule, you can see improvement after one course of treatment. Complete the course to prevent any relapse of acne.

Isotretinoin is widely available in oral capsule form. Try not to adjust or skip your prescribed dosage. Take the medication with food to improve absorption and a full glass of water.

Can I Use Isotretinoin? 

Your doctor will usually prescribe isotretinoin only for severe cases of acne. Treatment options for acne range from topical and oral medications, to laser therapy. 

Pregnant women should not use isotretinoin. It causes severe birth defects. To avoid pregnancy, females taking Isotretinoin must use birth control. In all cases, consult a Singapore – accredited acne doctor to determine whether Isotretinoin is right for you.

Where Can I Buy Isotretinoin? 

In Singapore, isotretinoin is marketed under a number of brand names such as Oratane, Roaccutane, Accutane, Nimigen, Acnotin, and others. This is a prescription-only medication, which means you can only get it after consulting with a doctor. Check with our medical staff to determine the exact cost.

Any Side Effects of Isotretinoin? 

Side effects may include dry lips and mouth, nausea, minor facial swelling, hair loss, and nosebleeds.

Learn about an American writer’s experience with isotretinoin, including a clear account of the side effects and how isotretinoin successfully treated her acne. We agree with her on one point – “Like any drug, isotretinoin is not for everyone. But let your doctor – not the self-proclaimed “MDs” of Reddit and YouTube – determine whether it’s right for you.” 


isotretinoin will make your skin more sun-sensitive, so do stay in the shade whenever possible. Lastly, your acne may worsen when you first start taking the medicine. This is referred to as “purging.” This indicates that the medication is effective. Mood swings may occur in a minority of patients.

When Can I Stop Medication? 

Acne is a chronic condition. As a practice, after completing one course of isotretinoin, physicians will prescribe follow-up maintenance therapy to keep your skin pimple-free. Your doctor should arrange regular check-ins with you to monitor the effectiveness and side effects.

Schedule Your Consultation Now! 

The more severe the acne, the more visible the scars. Do treat your acne early to avoid permanent damage to the skin. 

Our medical doctors use their years of experience and skills to deliver results. Don’t suffer in isolation from acne – not having good skin will affect your self-esteem. Speak with a member of our knowledgeable and personable medical staff today.

Article references: 

  1. Dessinioti, C., et al. “Comparison of Guidelines and Consensus Articles on the Management of Patients with Acne with Oral Isotretinoin.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 14 May 2020, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jdv.16430
  2. Jellerichs, Bradley. “Clinical Use of Isotretinoin: Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association.” LWW, 2018, journals.lww.com/jdnaonline/Abstract/2018/01001/Clinical_Use_of_Isotretinoin.4.aspx


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