When topical acne treatments fail, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, an oral treatment such as the medicine Accutane (active ingredient isotretinoin) is often prescribed. This treatment is highly effective, because it decreases the production of oils (in the form of sebum) from the sebaceous glands found on the skin, as well as the size of these glands. Although incredibly effective, Accutane acne treatment does come with some risks that will be discussed later.
The Accutane acne treatment and, more specifically, the active ingredient (isotretinoin), is derived from the common fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin A. The specific compound used in the Accutane acne treatment is derived from the acidified form of this vitamin, giving Accutane the acne-combating properties of vitamin A, without several of the adverse effects.
Although it is not exactly known how the Accutane acne treatment system does so, it alters the process, by which DNA is copied, and results in a smaller sebaceous gland (pore) and, therefore, a lower production of Sebum, the oil that accumulates on the skin. With smaller pores and less oil production, the dead skin cells are far less likely to stick inside of a pore and clog it, forming a blackhead. By shrinking the size of the pores and by decreasing the amount of the oil produced by them, Accutane acne treatment is able to reduce significantly the occurrence of clogged pores, or acne.
The dosage for the Accutane acne treatment is very important. It is usually prescribed as a function of weight (between .5 and 2 mg of Accutane per kilogram of body mass per day) A normal treatment will last anywhere between 4 and 6 months, but, in extreme cases, when heavy acne is observed after the treatment has ended, Accutane can be prescribed again 2 months after the original prescription ends. Because of the highly nonpolar nature of the compound used in Accutane, it is highly soluble in fat. This means that it is best absorbed into the bloodstream after a high-fat meal, because the fat molecules will provide a path for the dissolved isotretinoin to be absorbed into the bloodstream. The dosage and timing of the Accutane acne treatment can greatly affect the overall efficacy of the product.
As with many drugs, Accutane acne treatment does come with some potential risks. The most common side effects of Accutane are related directly to the decreased production of sebum in the skin. Such side effects are dryness of skin and lips, itch, rash, peeling skin, and fragile skin. There are also some side effects that are related to the decreased production of sebum in the eyes, such as conjunctivitis, dry eyes, and a reduced tolerance for contact lenses. Also, because fats and albumin are used to transport the isotretinoin molecule found in Accutane, these levels may be slightly raised.