There is nothing dangerous about the condition called ‘acne’. Yet, its sudden appearance can result in emotional upheavals in your life! You are terribly fearful about the condition leaving permanent scars on your thus-far unblemished face. Therefore, you set out on an exhaustive hunt for all manner of remedies, to see which one works best for you. Well, you may stop searching, for miracle drug “Accutane” is here!
What exactly is Acne?
Are you between the ages of 12 and 24, or even 30? Then, unless you are very lucky, you may expect the oil (sebaceous) glands to become overly active! These glands are lying within the deeper layers of your skin. It is the topsy-turvy functioning of hormones in your body, which is egging them on! The outcome is a display of unsightly spots on the face, neck, upper arms, shoulders and chest. They may take the form of inflamed blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, pustules, nodules, or papules.
How can you treat Acne?
Acne is a global phenomenon, especially amongst individuals entering puberty. This has prompted manufacturers of cosmetic products to come up with all kinds of lotions, creams and gels. Dermatologists go in for diluted corticosteroid injections, oral antibiotics, oral contraceptives, or topical antimicrobials. If everything else fails, there is the all-powerful Isotretinoin or Accutane. It is an oral retinoid, which you may use, albeit under the vigilant eyes of a skin specialist. It is a prescribed medication, not available over-the-counter, and which you need to handle with care.
What is Accutane?
This potent vitamin-A derivative has been in existence since 1982. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Hoffmann-La Roche its approval to market it. The manufacturers found it to be highly effective in the treatment of nodular/cystic acne. It comes into play, when all other forms of treatment have failed to work on this condition. In fact, people who have experimented with diverse types of treatments for moderate to severe breakouts, turn to Accutane finally. The good news is that a majority of health insurance and Medicare plans in the U.S. are ready to cover both, the brand and generic forms of this medication!
How does it work?
As per the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, even four or five months of usage are sufficient to clear your visage of all those ugly pimples. As dermatologist Dennis Gross explains, around 80% to 90% of oil glands on an acne-ridden face tend to function healthily. The remaining 10% to 20% are unwell, thereby going into ‘overproduction of oil’ mode. Accutane launches vicious attacks on cells that cause acne to return repeatedly. If severe acne remains untreated, you will display permanent scars on your face all your life.
What are the conditions for purchasing Accutane?
Whichever legitimate pharmacist you visit, he/she will provide you with a medication guide related to details about Isotretinoin. Peruse it carefully before you begin to use the medication. Peruse it once again, when you wish to obtain a refill. This is because it is compulsory to sign an Informed Consent form or Patient Information form before you begin your treatment of acne. In case, you have further questions, do talk to the pharmacist or your personal physician.
If you are an elderly individual, your system, specifically your bones, may prove highly sensitive to Accutane.
Similarly, children may avoid this drug, for their muscles, back and joints are at risk for excessive pain.
How should you use Isotretinoin?
Your prescribed dosage depends upon the condition of your acne, general health, weight and response to the drug. In general, a patient consumes the capsule twice daily. The treatment may continue for anywhere between 15 and 20 weeks. If your acne returns, the doctor will advise you to begin treatment again, albeit only two months after discontinuation of the first treatment. Even the pharmaceutical company that brought out this medication cautions against long-term use, or overuse.
Do not break the capsule, crush, or chew it. Just swallow it completely, along with a full glass of water. Avoid lying down for the next ten minutes, after ingesting Accutane. Ensure that you eat before taking this medication, for your bloodstream will absorb it better then.
How should you store the medication and dispose of unused capsules?
Please keep it at room temperature, such as 15 to 30 degrees Centigrade (59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Keep it away from moisture and bright light. Ensure that it is remains out of reach of pets and children. Therefore, do not ever keep it in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.
In case, you no longer need the product or it has crossed the expiry date, dispose it in a proper way. You may consult your pharmacist or a waste disposal company in your area. Never pour them down the drain or flush them down the toilet.
What should you do if you have missed a dose, or overdosed?
It would be good to take the ‘missed’ dose as soon as you remember it. However, if the time is very near the time of the next dosage, just forget the missed dose! Never go in for a double dose, in order to make up for what you have missed.
You will know that you have overdosed, if you experience severe stomach pain, vomiting, trouble breathing, headache, loss of balance, facial flushing, etc. Request someone from the poison control center to come over immediately. Alternatively, reach out to the emergency department in a local hospital.
What should you tell your pharmacist/doctor?
To begin with, be very frank about your allergies. You may be allergic to drugs containing vitamin A, Isotretinoin, etc. It is possible that parabens, soybeans, etc, which are inactive in nature, are present in Accutane. If your system cannot stand peanuts, you may/may not be allergic to soy.
Provide your entire past and present medical histories to your pharmacist/physician. Let the person know about your family history too.
If you are pregnant, or there is the possibility of you conceiving, avoid this medication.
Do not handle it, or even breathe the dust from the capsule. If the dust goes into your lungs or is absorbed through the skin, your unborn child may suffer. In fact, you must show the results of pregnancy tests prior to beginning this treatment. The tests should be negative. Are you nursing a newborn? It would be best to avoid this drug, for it may pass into the breast milk, like many other drugs.
What are the safety measures that you should take?
You may experience hypersensitivity to Mr. Sun, while undergoing this treatment. Don protective clothing and sunscreen when moving outdoors. Take immediate treatment for sunburns, blisters, etc. Also, stay away from sun lamps and tanning booths.
While on Accutane, and for six months after stopping its usage, avoid cosmetic rectifications of your skin. They cause scars.
Do you wear contact lenses? They may irritate you now.
Refuse to donate blood while on Isotretinoin. Even when you complete the treatment, avoid blood donation for one month.
Refuse to engage in night driving, as this medication tends to affect night vision.
Stay away from alcohol.
What are the side effects of Isotretinoin?
In general, there are no serious side effects. However, you might experience minor swelling of lips/eyelids, thinning of hair, dry mouth and lips, stomach upsets, crusting of skin, or nosebleeds. Wait for a couple of days, before you rush to the pharmacist/doctor.
It is easy to take care of a dry mouth. Just suck on ice chips/candy. Alternatively, you may drink loads of water, go in for a saliva substitute, or chew on sugarless gum.
If you have terrible stomach pain and persistent vomiting/nausea, you may be heading for pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). This is a rare experience, but you will have to talk to your doctor immediately. Do not worry, for the condition is not fatal.
Sometimes, people experience mood changes, ringing in the ears, loss of hearing, peeling skin on soles/palm, and so on. Regardless, the majority of these side effects are only rare occurrences. Just understand that if you do notice anything unusual, consult the right person. Appropriate laboratory tests will help in diagnosis and treatment of side effects.
Whatever be the consequences, people, who have used Accutane, swear by its wonderful ability to destroy acne and acne scars. Therefore, if your doctor suggests it, go for it!
Image Credit- 1