Accutane is often suggested to treat persistent or severe acne when antibiotics and other therapies fail. Many people are afraid of Accutane (isotretinoin).

So, what is fact and what is fiction?

1. Accutane is dangerous. The truth is that Accutane, like almost all medicines, may have side effects. The one very serious side effect is that it causes birth defects if a female patient gets pregnant while on Accutane. However, as long as one has been off Accutane for at least a month, there is no increased risk of birth defects. during pregnancy.

2. Accutane “cures” acne.  Almost everyone clears on Accutane. If they complete a 5 to 6 month course, most (but not all) people will stay clear indefinitely.

3. Accutane causes depression and suicide. While there is a warning about increased risk, most controlled studies do not show this to be an issue. Always communicate any prior history of symptoms to your doctor.

4. Accutane “dries you out.” It is true that while on Accutane,  skin, lips and mucous membranes will be dry. Your dermatologist can make suggestions to help with these symptoms.

5. You can’t drink alcohol while on Accutane. The truth is that alcohol consumption increases the chance of elevated liver enzymes. Consider what is more important in your long-term health.

The real truth is that Accutane can offer permanent or semi-permanent to acne when other treatments have failed. By talking to your dermatologist, you can decide if Accutane is right for you.