Acne is a common skin condition even among Americans, affecting millions. Acne can present itself in different appearances, depending on what type of acne one has. It is common among teenagers and in adults as well. Acne is associated in high rates of psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, affecting one’s social relationships and unfortunately even the cause of unemployment for some. Severe acne can actually affect one’s life, possibly causing embarrassing and stressful moments. The exact cause is still unknown but it is believed to run among families. One has severe acne if he/she possess the following symptoms: the presence of painful, tender and deep cysts, inflammation of the affected area, existing nodules, irregularities of the skin’s surface, and even scarring. Most cases of acne have certain acne medications intended to treat it effectively. While severe acne can cause a detrimental effect in one’s life, there is still a revolutionary acne medication available for its treatment.
Isotretinoin is a powerful drug that is the acne medication of choice for the most severe cases of cystic and inflammatory acne and for moderate to severe cases of acne that does not respond to any other treatments like antibiotics. Isotretinoin is a drug that is derived from Vitamin A that is a highly effective acne medication in treating severe cases of acne. The exact mechanism of Isotretinoin is still unknown but it is believed to work its effects by reducing oil or sebum production since acne is also caused by an increased sebum or oil production. Severe acne is characterized by a permanent scarring of the skin, while increased sebum production causes inflammation which in turn causes scarring; the action of Isotretinoin in reducing sebum production can result to a lessened extent of severe acne. It has the ability to suppress severe cases of acne on a long-term period, with a recommended daily dose of 0.5mg to 2mg per kg of patient’s body weight, to be taken for about three to six months. Isotretinoin should also be taken with food to improve the drug’s absorption in the body.
Isotretinoin Side Effects
As with any other acne medications, Isotretinoin can also cause certain side effects. However effective it may be, it can still cause some common and even severe side effects therefore a close monitoring of patients taking Isotretinoin as acne medication is needed. Common side effects it may cause include drying of the eyes, mouth, nose, lips and skin, it may also cause itching, muscle aches, nosebleeds, poor night vision and sun sensitivity. It may also cause an increase in the triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the blood and increase liver enzyme levels. Isotretinoin may also be linked to an increased risk of depression, psychosis, and in rare cases, suicidal thoughts and attempts. This psychological link has not been proven; however, medical specialists are still cautious of these possible side effects and monitor patients who receive Isotretinoin as acne medication. Isotretinoin may also cause potentially serious side effects such as serious birth defects to the developing fetus. This acne medication is therefore not recommended for use by pregnant women, breastfeeding women or even those who are planning to get pregnant. The FDA then advises women of child-bearing age to use birth control before, during and one month after the course of treatment with this acne medication.
Other Treatment Options
Some may consider other treatment options aside from acne medication in treating severe acne cases. Other treatment options include “acne surgery” done by a dermatologist. This is a procedure which involves the draining and extraction of large persistent acne cysts. This option is best if the acne does not respond to medications. Acne surgery may reduce the risk of scarring. An anti-inflammatory steroid injection may be given at the affected area to treat severely inflamed acne cysts and to reduce pain and possibly prevent scarring. With this kind of acne medication, acne cysts usually shrink in about five days after injection. A new therapy is also available in treating severe acne. It is called photodynamic therapy (PDT) which is a non-invasive procedure that uses light treatments to eliminate the bacteria that is causing the breakouts.