Understanding Isotretinoin: A Comprehensive Guide For Severe Acne

Understanding Isotretinoin: A Comprehensive Guide For Severe Acne

For those who are suffering from severe acne, the word ‘isotretinoin’ might ring a bell. This is because, in the pursuit of clearer skin, medical science has introduced this oral medication, widely recognised by its brand name Accutane. As many of us know, severe acne can not only cause physical discomfort; it can also significantly impact one’s self-esteem and overall quality of life. This is where isotretinoin steps in as an effective treatment method for the severe skin condition.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various aspects of isotretinoin treatment for individuals seeking relief from persistent acne.

Understanding isotretinoin

Isotretinoin, a potent oral retinoid derived from Vitamin A, is a groundbreaking treatment for severe or resistant acne, including nodulocystic acne and acne with severe scarring. Marketed under different brand names such as Roaccutane, Accutane, Oratane, and Acnotin, isotretinoin has significantly improved the lives of countless individuals struggling with persistent acne.

How isotretinoin works

Isotretinoin targets the root causes of acne by addressing four core factors: excessive sebum production, clogged pores due to abnormal skin turnover, inflammation, and bacterial C. acnes. Unlike conventional treatments, isotretinoin effectively targets all these factors, leading to a remarkable reduction in sebum production, whiteheads, blackheads, inflammation, and the total C. acnes bacterial count.

How isotretinoin helps acne

Isotretinoin is effective in treating various acne symptoms:

1. Inflamed (Red) Spots

Isotretinoin’s remarkable effectiveness lies in its ability to clear inflamed spots, including red papules, pustules, and nodules. By halting the development of new inflamed spots and encouraging the resolution of existing ones, isotretinoin plays a pivotal role in calming irritated skin.

2. Cysts

Severe acne often manifests as painful cysts, causing significant discomfort and leaving lasting scars. Isotretinoin, a powerful cystic acne treatment, shines in reducing these cystic formations, offering relief to those burdened by their presence.

3. Comedones

Isotretinoin doesn’t discriminate; it is equally effective against comedones, whether they are open (blackheads) or closed (whiteheads). While the medication proves its efficacy in most cases, exceptionally large closed comedones may require alternative treatments like hyfrecation before initiating an isotretinoin course.

4. Greasiness

Excess sebum production contributes to the greasiness of the skin, often robbing individuals of their confidence. Isotretinoin steps in by regulating sebum production, leading to a noticeable reduction in skin and hair greasiness. Many individuals find their skin becoming less shiny, contributing to an overall improved complexion.

Treatment approaches

The duration and dosage of isotretinoin treatment vary based on the severity of acne. Most individuals with severe facial acne undergo a course of treatment lasting 4 – 6 months, while back acne may require 6 – 8 months of treatment. The dosage is weight-based, typically starting at 0.5mg/kg/day and increasing gradually. Low-dose isotretinoin has proven to be as effective as conventional dosing, offering improved tolerability and affordability.

Side effects and considerations

Isotretinoin treatment may lead to dryness of the skin, lips, eyes, and nasal passages. Additionally, some individuals may experience mild joint and muscle pains. Dryness can be managed with moisturisers and lip balms, while eye drops and sunscreen help combat dry eyes and sensitivity to sunlight, respectively. While concerns about mood changes exist, studies have shown mixed results, and patients are closely monitored for any shifts in mood.

Before starting isotretinoin, a thorough medical history and basic laboratory tests are essential. Certain conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, excessively high blood cholesterol levels, hypervitaminosis A, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, may contraindicate isotretinoin usage. It is vital to inform healthcare providers of any ongoing medications to avoid potential drug interactions.

Post-treatment and relapse prevention

Following successful isotretinoin treatment, patients might wonder about the possibility of relapse. Maintenance therapy, often involving topical retinoids, can help prevent and reduce potential inflammation and microcomedones. While relapse rates are approximately 20%, proper skincare and maintenance therapies can contribute significantly to long-term acne management.


Isotretinoin, a revolutionary oral retinoid, offers hope for individuals grappling with severe or resistant acne. Once you have understood its benefits, potential side effects, and considerations, you can embark on a transformative journey toward healthier, clearer skin. When choosing an aesthetics clinic to guide you through your Isotretinoin treatment, it’s crucial to consider their expertise, reputation, and commitment to patient care.

At APAX Medical & Aesthetics Clinic, your journey to flawless skin is our priority. Our experienced professionals at our Hougang aesthetics clinic -located near Kovan MRT station, and Woodlands aesthetics medical clinic – located at Bukit Panjang MRT, are dedicated to providing comprehensive and personalised care, ensuring you achieve the radiant complexion you desire. Take the first step toward your acne-free future with APAX Medical & Aesthetics Clinic!

Request a CallBack

Get in touch with us with any questions, pricing, or bookings.

Or give us a call at +65 6769 6007 | WhatsApp us +65 9855 3022

Recommended Posts