Acute swollen acne is the most severe type of acne vulgaris. It is also known as nodular acne, or nodulocystic acne, or cystic acne. The good news is that this can be treated! Today, let’s discuss Isotretinoin For Acne.
Cystic acne is not only uncommon and severe; it is also painful and emotionally traumatic. This is due to the effects on facial appearance. Though hormonal changes during the puberty phase are a prime factor in causing this type of severe acne, this condition can occur in older people as well. Contrary to popular myths, severe acne is not caused by greasy foods, chocolate, nuts, poor hygiene, nor masturbation.
What are the symptoms of severe acne?
Severe acne sets itself apart from milder types by the amount of inflammation. Patients with severe acne experience many pustules, papules, comedones, cysts or nodules- or even both. Extremely painful, these feel like they are buried deep inside the layers of the skin.
Severe acne occurs in both men and women and at any age. Apart from the face, breakouts also appear on the back, shoulders, chest, and neck. Most severe acne cases are characterized by inflammation, but there are some with severe comedonal acne. The difference lies in the inflamed nodules and cysts combined with non-inflamed blackheads and closed comedones. In this case, you may experience more significant breakouts that are also more widespread.
If you experience most of these symptoms, you may be suffering from severe acne. It is sometimes difficult to know the severity of your acne condition. However, if you have tried over-the-counter acne treatments for about twelve weeks with little to no improvement, we recommend consulting a licensed dermatologist – no matter how severe your acne condition is.
How do dermatologists treat severe acne?
Generally, dermatologists recommend treating severe acne with one of the following methods:
First, you can apply antibiotics and medicine to the acne. Antibiotics help reduce the redness and swelling of acne, while the medication attempts to eliminate bacteria and clogged pores. When this treatment fails, a dermatologist may change your antibiotic to isotretinoin.
Isotretinoin for acne is a strong medicine designed to target all the causes of severe breakouts: bacteria, excess oil, clogged pores, and inflammation (redness and swelling). About 85 percent of patients who used isotretinoin noticed permanent clearing after one course of isotretinoin.
Due to strong side effects, take note that you need to consider this very carefully. If you choose to take isotretinoin, it is strongly recommended that you enlist in a monitoring program.
But what is Isotretinoin For Acne?
Brand names include Accutane ®, Absorica ®, Amnesteem ®, Claravis ®, Myorisan ®, Sotret ®, and Zenatane (™).
Isotretinoin is a prescription medicine for severe acne conditions that are characterized by deep, painful cysts and nodules. These may appear as the size of a pencil or eraser, or even bigger. When this type of acne clears, scars usually appear.
Isotretinoin for acne is best taken with food. Though it does not require refrigeration, keep it out of direct sunlight. Like any prescription medicine, avoid storing it in a warm place and opt instead for a cool, dry storage location. If this has been prescribed to you, avoid sharing it with anyone else. Keep it away from children. When taking isotretinoin for acne, avoid donating blood for about one month after you have stopped taking it.
Before the Treatment Begins
Inform your dermatologist or doctor if you or anybody in your family have liver disease, diabetes, depression, or heart problems. Also, notify your dermatologist or doctor if you have allergies to any medicine, especially parabens (isotretinoin in capsule form). Tell him/her if you are taking any other medications including over-the-counter medication.
Since isotretinoin is similar to vitamin A, avoid taking any vitamin A pills or multivitamins that contain vitamin A while taking isotretinoin.
During the Treatment
At first, your acne may worsen when you begin the isotretinoin treatment and could even last for a while. Inform your doctor if you experience this because you may need to use other medications along with the isotretinoin during this period.
Isotretinoin dosages vary for every individual. During your severe acne treatment, your dermatologist or doctor may change your dosage. Make sure to take isotretinoin the way the doctor instructs. If you miss a dose, do not take an extra dose the next time.
Make sure to keep your doctor’s appointments because he/she will have to check on you as much as possible. He/She will check your liver tests and cholesterol levels. During the treatment, you may experience some unpleasant side effects. The following side effects usually disappear when you stop taking isotretinoin:
- Fragile skin or your skin may easily injure, leading to rashes or itchiness
- Dry skin and lips; the doctor will recommend creams or lotions you can apply
- Peeling skin on the soles of your feet and palms
- Dry, red eyes – you may need to avoid wearing contact lenses during the treatment period
- Increased sensitivity to the sun, burning more quickly
- Thinning hair
- Nosebleed, bleeding arms, muscle pain
- Decreased night vision- If you have any vision problems, stop taking isotretinoin and see your doctor immediately.
Some patients experience severe side effects. If they are not treated immediately, the problems could become permanent. If you experience any of the following, stop taking isotretinoin and see your doctor immediately:
- Depression, mood changes
- Headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision
- Very dry eyes
- Severe stomach pain, diarrhea, bleeding from rectum, dark yellow urine
- Yellow color in your eyes and skin
After you stop taking isotretinoin
You may notice improvements in your skin after you have stopped taking isotretinoin. Side effects generally disappear several days (or weeks) after the isotretinoin medication. However, if side effects continue for more than several weeks after you have stopped taking isotretinoin, see your doctor immediately.
Some patients need to take isotretinoin more than one time. If you have to take isotretinoin again, you will need to wait until about eight to ten weeks after your first medication is completed. Again, avoid donating blood for at least one month after you stop taking isotretinoin.
Take note, women, and girls
Never take isotretinoin if you are pregnant, or if there is any chance that you may get pregnant while taking this treatment. Isotretinoin can cause serious birth defects, which include: malformation of the face and head, chronic internal defects of the brain, heart, glands, and nervous system, as well as mental retardation. It can also lead to miscarriage, a death of the fetus, and premature birth.
Additionally, you may need to use two types of birth control in the same period for at least one month before taking isotretinoin for acne, and for the duration while taking this medicine. For instance, if you are taking Depo-Provera as your birth control, you may have to add another type of birth control. Consult with your doctor.
The doctor will make certain you are not pregnant before you start taking isotretinoin. Visit your doctor each month while you are taking medicine. You will read and sign a consent form stating that you understand the harmful birth defects and agree to take birth control. In case your period is late, stop taking isotretinoin and see your doctor immediately. If you get pregnant while taking this medicine for acne, consult with your doctor.
- Commercial pilots may be subjected to flying limitations if they are taking isotretinoin.
- High dosages of isotretinoin in very young children can cause premature epiphyseal closure that may lead to shorter body build.
On a final note,
Acne treatments vary depending upon the severity of your acne problems. Most teenagers, and even adults can regulate mild acne with “over-the-counter” topical medications. These include acne creams, lotions, and salicylic acid products that improve the appearance of whiteheads and blackheads and clear clogged pores. If you experience severe acne conditions, you may need to try prescription medications or even an in-office procedure like laser treatment or collagen induction therapy.
If you experience severe acne conditions, we strongly recommend that you see your doctor first before taking any medications or treatments.
Check out our Keeva Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatment Cream Review article, which contains excellent information describing what acne is, actions you can take to prevent it, and how you can control it with a better diet and lifestyle.
Now It’s Your Turn
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