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Istotrexin is a treatment for mild to moderate acne in teenagers, young adults and adults. It can be used if over-the-counter acne treatment products have been tried and have not worked. Isotrexin must be prescribed by a doctor. Acne is a common skin condition that can affect people of all ages but is common in teenagers when they go through puberty. It appears as spots on the body, mainly on the face, back, shoulders and chest. Isotrexin comes in the form of a gel and is a topical treatment (it is spread thinly on the surface of the skin).
What is Isotrexin?
Isotrexin is a topical gel medication (treatment from the outside) that is used to treat acne. It is used for mild to moderate acne when other treatments have not been successful. Isotrexin is the brand name for Isotretinoin. It contains two active ingredients: erythromycin and isotretinion. The formulation is 2% (2 g per 100 g) of erythromycin and 0.05% (0.05 g per 100 g) of isotretinion. Erythromycin is an antibiotic. Antibiotics inhibit the growth of bacteria in the body. They can also treat infections that have already occured.
Isotretinion is a form of vitamin A and belongs to the retinoid group of medicines. Retinoids are a chemical compound which is related to vitamin A (the medical term is retinol). Vitamin A can regulate the growth of the epithelial cells on the skin. These line the surfaces of the body. Isotrexin works by fighting the bacteria that causes spots that are severe which is known as the condition acne. It can help unblock the pores of the skin and clear up existing acne as well as help to prevent further outbreaks. It also increases the production of skin cells and assists with the natural exfoliation of the layers of the skin on the body. When you start to use Isotrexin it may take up to 6-8 weeks before you see any results so be patient. Your body needs to adjust to this medication and allow the Isotrexin to work.
The medical name for acne is acne vulgaris. Acne can affect all ages, but most commonly occurs in teenagers and young adults when they experience puberty. At this time the body goes through many hormonal changes and the skin can produce excess oil and sebum (an oily secretion produced by the sebaceous glands) which can block pores and lead to acne. Dead skin cells can also clog the pores which irritate this condition.
Isotrexin can help the oil-producing glands in the body to function normally and prevent them from producing excess oils which can lead to acne. As acne can be caused by hormonal changes it can also be triggered in women at certain times during their menstrual cycle, when they are pregnant and during the menopause. Acne usually occurs on the following areas of the body:
- the face (the most common area)
- the back (affecting approximately half of people who suffer from acne)
- the chest (affecting about 15% of people who have acne)
Isotrexin helps to unblock the pores and treat and prevent acne. If left untreated acne can be very uncomfortable and touching and scratching it can make the condition worse. This can also lead to scars on the skin which can be unsightly. Acne can cause a person to feel very unhappy, particularly if they have low confidence. As well as the physical signs of the condition, which most commonly occur on the face, there can be internal psychological signs as a person may feel uncomfortable if they believe they look unattractive due to acne.
If you suffer from acne you are likely to experience outbreaks throughout your life so it is important to understand how to manage it and to know that medication is available to help you with this condition. If you or your teenager has acne it is important to talk to a doctor as this is a medical condition that can be treated and managed successfully.
When is Isotrexin used?
Isotrexin is used to treat acne when it is considered to be mild or moderate. It should only be prescribed by a doctor and you should use it as advised. A doctor can decide if your acne is severe enough to require treatment with Isotrexin. The common use of Isotrexin for the treatment of acne is once or twice a day. To apply this medication you spread a thin layer on the affected area of the skin. The skin must be clean and dry before doing this.
It can take up to 6-8 weeks to see any results in the reduction of acne when using Isotrexin. Sometimes the condition can get worse before it improves so it is important to persist with the treatment. Isotrexin should not be taken for more than twelve weeks.
How do you use Isotrexin?
Before applying Isotrexin you should wash and dry your hands. It must be applied to clean, dry skin. If applying after a shower or bath it is advisable to wait for a little while to ensure the skin is not damp, which will allow the body to absorb the gel better. If you do not wish to touch the gel you can apply it whilst wearing surgical gloves.
Apply the gel sparingly – a pea-sized amount should be sufficient. Gently smooth a thin layer of the gel over the affected area. Wait until it is absorbed before getting dressed if you are applying it to an area where it may need to be covered by clothing. Try to avoid using cosmetics or other skin products on the area where you have applied Isotrexin. It is also advisable to be careful with any products you use on your skin if you suffer from acne as they can dry or irritate it and make the problem worse.
It may take a while (between 6-8 weeks) for Isotrexin to show results against acne. It is not advisable to use this medicine for longer than twelve weeks as the bacteria in the skin can become resistant to it and the product may then be less effective. Isotrexin can be used with other acne treatments. However, you should tell your doctor about any other treatments you are using and any medication you are taking, including herbal medicines.
What dosages are there?
Unless otherwise advised by your doctor the usual dosage of Isotrexin is the application of a thin layer of the gel once or twice a day. This applies to adults and teenagers or children over twelve years of age.
If the symptoms of your acne do not improve after twelve weeks you should talk to your doctor as they may prescribe another medication. It is not advisable to use Isotrexin for more than this period of time. Note that it may take 6-8 weeks for the successful effects of Isotrexin to show.
What are the side effects of Isotrexin?
As with all medications, Isotrexin can have some side effects. These may not occur in everyone. The common side effects are:
- a burning sensation on the skin
- redness/sore skin
- scaling of the skin
- sensitivity to sunlight
If you experience any of the above side effects, you should apply a smaller amount of the gel. You could also try using the gel every other day instead of every day until any effects subside. As Isotrexin can cause the skin to become more sensitive to sunlight than usual it is advisable to stay out of direct sunlight while using this product and to wear a high factor sunscreen when you are outside. However, be careful not to apply the sunscreen directly to the site of the gel immediately after application. If the side effects continue stop using the gel and consult your doctor.
When shouldn’t you use Isotrexin?
You should not use Isotrexin if:
- you are allergic to any of the ingredients listed on the package leaflet
- you are pregnant or trying to conceive a baby (Isotrexin can harm an unborn child – you should not try to get pregnant until at least one month after stopping using this medication)
- you are breastfeeding
- you are under twelve years of age
It is important to tell your doctor if you suffer from eczema (a chronic skin condition), rosacea (a skin condition that affects the face) or have or have had skin cancer before using Isotrexin. You should also inform your doctor of any other medications you are taking, including herbal medicines.
Does Isotrexin interact with other medication?
Isotrexin can interact with other medication so it is important to tell your doctor if you are taking anything, including herbal medicines. It can interact with medicines containing erythromycin or clindamycin and may not work as successfully if you have taken these. It is possible to use Isotrexin with other treatments for acne but this should only be on the advice of your doctor. They may advise you to use other treatments at different times from Isotrexin to avoid skin irritation.
Where can you buy Isotrexin?
Isotrexin is only available with a doctor’s prescription from a pharmacist.
Can I get Isotrexin without a prescription?
No, this is a prescription-only medication.
Package leaflet. IsotrexIN® Gel erythromycin 2% and isotretinoin 0.05%. Retrieved 11 May, 2019 from https://www.dokteronline.com/pils/en/patient_information_leaflet-3906-isotrexin-uk.pdf-1510756510.pdf
Jaliman, D. (2017, January 11). Retinoid Treatment and Your Skin. Retrieved 11 May, 2019 from https://www.webmd.com/beauty/retinoid-gel-and-cream-treatments#1
Treatment (acne). (n.d.). Retrieved 11 May, 2019 from http://www.acnesupport.org.uk/treatment/
Marshall, H. (2017, May 10). Isotrexin gel (isotretinoin, erythromycin). Retrieved 11 May, 2019 from https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/skin-hair/a6936/isotrexin-gel-isotretinoin-erythromycin/