GENERIC NAME: isotretinoin
BRAND NAME: Claravis, Amnesteem, Absorica, Myorisan, Zenatane
DISCONTINUED BRAND: Sotret, Accutane
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Isotretinoin is an oral drug used for the treatment and prevention of severe acne. Acne is caused by inflammation of the skin. It primarily affects teenagers, but it also affects adults. Severe acne causes permanent scarring of the skin. The inflammation is caused in part by an increased secretion of sebum (oily substance) from glands in the skin (sebaceous glands). The sebum provokes inflammation, and the inflammation resolves (heals) with the formation of a scar (keratinization). The exact mechanism of action of isotretinoin is not known; however, it may reduce acne by reducing the secretion of sebum. If less sebum is secreted it is likely that there will be less inflammation and keratinization. The Food and Drug Administration approved isotretinoin in May 1982.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Isotretinoin is used to treat severe acne that is resistant to more conservative treatments such as creams, drying agents, and topical or oral antibiotics. Complete remission or prolonged improvement is seen in many patients after one course of 15 to 20 weeks of isotretinoin. Because of its serious side effects, isotretinoin should be used only for severe resistant acne.
Because isotretinoin causes birth defects, isotretinoin is sold only under a special program approved by the Food and Drug Administration called iPLEDGE. Isotretinoin can only be prescribed by healthcare providers and dispensed by pharmacies registered in iPLEDGE.
SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of isotretinoin are:
- dry skin,
- dry nose,
- nosebleeds (epistaxis),
- cracks in the corners of the mouth (chilitis),
- dry mouth,
- and inflammation of the whites of the eyes.
Quick GuideAdult Acne (Pimples) Causes, Solutions and Treatments
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