Isotretinoin/Accutane Information for Patients

What is isotretinoin?

Isotretinoin (commonly referred to as Accutane) is an oral retinoid that is used to treat acne and other dermatologic conditions. It is FDA-approved for the treatment of severe acne that is unresponsive to other treatments. Treatment usually lasts 4-6 months.

Will it help my acne?

iPLEDGE is a government program that regulates the use of isotretinoin due to the medications potential to causes serious birth defects.

Requirements include:

  • Confirm that you are on 2 forms of contraception (females of child-bearing potential)
  • Confirm you understand side effects and that you will not donate blood or share this medication (all patients)

Getting started:

  • Men or females who cannot get pregnant: No waiting period, treatment can start after signing consent forms, creating your iPLEDGE account, and doing baseline blood work.
  • Females of child-bearing potential: In addition to above, you must be on two forms of birth control prior to starting. You must have two negative pregnancy tests, at least 30 days apart.

Lock out period:

You will only get a 30-day prescription at a time due to iPLEDGE requirements. You must return to your dermatologist’s office every month in order to get a refill.

  • Men or females who cannot get pregnant: must pick up prescription within 30 days
  • Females of child-bearing potential: must pick up prescription within 7 days

What to avoid when on treatment:

  • You must not get pregnant 1 month prior to and 1 month after taking isotretinoin
    • Females of child-bearing potential will have to take a pregnancy test 1 month after completing therapy
  • Do not donate blood ▪ Do not have cosmetic procedures such as waxing, dermabrasion, and laser therapy while on isotretinoin and for 6 months after therapy
  • Do not use any other acne treatments, discuss your skin care regimen with your dermatologist

Skin care while on isotretinoin:

  • Dry eyes: Lubricating eye drops, do not get anti-redness drops
  • Dry nose: Ayr nasal saline spray. Vaseline or Aquaphor ointment in the nares nightly.
  • Dry lips: Hydrocortisone 1% lip balm multiple times per day. Vaseline or Aquaphor ointment.
  • Dry skin on face: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel or CeraVe Ultra-Light Lotion
  • Dry skin on body: CeraVe cream, Vanicream, Aquaphor ointment; ointments and creams are more effective than lotions


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