A doctor will review your order and write you a prescription, if appropriate. This prescription is then forwarded to a pharmacy. The pharmacy will have your medicine delivered to you within one to three working days. Read more about this process here.
What is isotretinoin?
The active ingredient isotretinoin reduces the production of the skin’s natural oil (sebum). It also tones down inflammation and stimulates the renewal of the top layer of the skin. As a result, impurities are reduced.
What is isotretinoin used for?
Isotretinoin is a strong medicine that is reserved for treating severe acne.
Acne is caused by an overproduction of sebum, which in turn causes the sebaceous glands to become clogged and inflamed. Although acne can affect people of all ages, it is most common in adolescents. Most of the time, the spots will fade with no need for treatment. Sometimes, however, the impurities are more severe. Cysts and abscesses can form on the skin, which can be very painful and unattractive. These types of acne are referred to as acne conglobata and acne cystica.
Acne is usually treated with a topical medicine such as an anti-inflammatory cream or lotion, or with antibiotics. Isotretinoin is used for acne that hasn’t improved with standard treatment involving antibiotics and topical medicines. It works by reducing the production of sebum in the skin and slowing down the growth of skin cells in the epidermis. As a result, the skin regenerates more quickly and pores become clogged less often. Isotretinoin also reduces inflammation and the growth of acne bacteria.
How to use isotretinoin
The active ingredient isotretinoin is available in capsule form. The capsules should be swallowed whole with some liquid, with or just after food. Isotretinoin is usually prescribed as a 16 or 24-week course. If necessary, repeat courses may be started at least eight weeks after the previous course.
This medicine makes the skin more sensitive to UV radiation. Avoid direct sunlight and sunbeds and use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15, even on a bright but cloudy day.
Unless otherwise prescribed, the usual dose is:
- Adults and children aged 12 and above: 0.5 mg per kilo of body weight. This dose may be taken at once, or spaced in two doses taken 12 hours apart on the same the day.
Note: Do not give isotretinoin to children under the age of 12 years or before puberty.
Treatment with isotretinoin may cause side effects, including:
- Skin problems, e.g. dry or flaky skin and itching.
- Dryness of mucous membranes, e.g. dry eyes or dry nose.
- Increased levels of cholesterol in the blood.
- Dizziness, feeling of weakness.
For a complete list of side effects, see the package leaflet. Side effects should be reported to a doctor or pharmacist. Contact a doctor immediately in case of severe or life-threatening side effects.
When not to use isotretinoin
Isotretinoin is not suitable for everyone. Do not use this medicine if:
- You are pregnant or planning to conceive.
- You are allergic to the active ingredient isotretinoin or any other ingredient in this medicine.
- You have liver problems.
- You have high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides or Vitamin A in your blood.
In some cases, isotretinoin should be used with caution. For example, if you have a health condition that is not listed above or are currently on medication. Please report any significant information when you order, so that the doctor can determine if you are a candidate for isotretinoin. For more information, see the package leaflet.
Isotretinoin can cause miscarriage and severe birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Do NOT use if you are or could be pregnant, or if you are trying to conceive. Before taking this medicine, it is important that the following conditions are met:
- Make sure that you are not pregnant before starting isotretinoin (i.e. take a pregnancy test).
- You must start using contraception at least four weeks before starting isotretinoin. Continue using contraception at all times during treatment and for at least four weeks after stopping isotretinoin. At least one, but preferably two effective methods of contraception must be used to prevent pregnancy (e.g. the pill and condoms). This also applies to women in the fertile age bracket who don’t have a period.
- If you think there is a chance you could be pregnant, either during treatment or in the first month after stopping treatment, you must consult your doctor immediately.
- If you are planning on starting a family, wait at least one month after stopping treatment before trying for a baby.
The doctor will not prescribe this medicine to women or girls who could get pregnant, unless the above conditions are met. You can also find these conditions on the package leaflet.
Do not use isotretinoin if you are breastfeeding.
This medicine may cause dizziness and blurred vision. Stay out of traffic if you experience this side effect.
Limit your alcohol intake or avoid drinking altogether while taking this medicine. Alcohol may trigger or intensify certain side effects.