5 Effects of Accutane That You Need To Be Aware Of

Dr Chin Yee Choong

"Dedicated to the ethical practice of Aesthetic Medicine"

Acne is a common skin problem that everyone has probably experienced at least once in their lifetime. While some acne can disappear on their own within days, there are many cases where people develop severe acne that leaves scars.

When dealing with cystic acne, you may be tempted to treat them yourself. When home remedies do not work, stepping up your acne-care feels necessary. 

Isotretinoin, or commonly known as Accutane, is a type of medicine that dermatologists would prescribe you with. Accutane itself is a natural derivative of vitamin A. This means that a large dose of vitamin A has the same effect as Accutane. Accutane helps to clear severe acne safely if it is used as prescribed. [1]

That being said, you are prohibited from taking vitamin A if you are prescribed with Accutane as it can be harmful to you. This article explains 5 side effects of Accutane that you need to be aware of.

Dry skin and lips

It is common for your lips to chap and dry after taking Accutane. Though it is rare, there are some cases where the consumption of Accutane has to be stopped because the dryness is too extreme. [2]

If you feel like the Accutane is causing your lips to dry, I would advise you to apply lip balm to give it some moisture and preventing the dryness from worsening.

Increasing sun sensitivity

Accutane can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun as the skin is absorbing the sunlight, this increase of sensitivity towards the UV ray can lead to skin inflammation. [3]

UV sensitivity can be managed by wearing sunscreen. However, I would advise you to take Accutane before you go to bed to prevent inflammation from occurring.


Accutane can make your nose dry and this may lead to a nosebleed. However, this rarely occurs if you are only taking a small dose of Accutane. [4]

A nasal spray can be an effective aid to keep your nostrils moisturised. Besides, they are relatively easy to find at the pharmacy. [5]

Stomach problems

Accutane can also cause nausea, stomach pain, and diarrhoea. Stomach problems can only occur if you are taking high doses of Accutane. 

Having said that, it is highly advised to take Accutane with a whole glass of water to prevent your stomach from getting irritated. 

Birth defects

A birth defect is the most dangerous side effect of Accutane. It can happen if a woman is taking a high dose of Accutane while pregnant. Birth defects can cause a malformation of the head and face and can lead to brain defects. It can even lead to miscarriage or premature birth. [6]

Therefore, a woman who is on Accutane medication is advised to take birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. [7]

In order for Accutane to work properly and safely, there is a certain dosage that you have to follow when undergoing Accutane treatment. That being said, it is highly advised that you consult your trusted dermatologist before you decide to start Accutane treatment.



1. Accutane - American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD). Aocd.org. Published 2013. Accessed February 26, 2020.

2. Harvard Health Publishing. 10 types of medications that should keep you in the shade this summer - Harvard Health. Harvard Health. Published July 2017. Accessed February 26, 2020.

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All content posted is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. This Q&A is not a patient consultation and any information provided herein is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical professional. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

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