Isotretin what?

ok… it’s Accutane, otherwise known as Isotretinoin or Roaccutane, depending on what part of the world you are in. Most of us just think of it as acne medication but has recently been suggested to a friend for ILVEN. So let’s take a closer look at how it works and the risks.

Accutane is a form of vitamin A and is part of a class of medications called retinoids. It was originally marketed as a chemotherapy drug.

Exactly how Accutane works on a cellular level is unknown but we do know that it affects all four ways that acne develops.

  • 1. It dramatically reduces the size of the skin’s oil glands (35%-58%) and even more dramatically reduces the amount of oil these glands produce (around 80%).
  • 2. Acne bacteria live in skin oil. Since oil is dramatically reduced, so is the amount of acne bacteria in the skin.
  • 3. It slows down how fast the skin produces skin cells inside the pore, which helps pores from becoming clogged in the first place.
  • 4. It has anti-inflammatory properties.


Number 3 and 4 are probably the most important factors when considering this drug for ILVEN.

The most common side effects of Accutane are dry skin, itching, rash, dry nose, nosebleeds, cracks in the corners of the mouth, dry mouth, dry lips, cracking or peeling skin, inflammation of the whites of the eyes, dry eyes, joint pain, back pain, dizziness, drowsiness, nervousness, or changes in your fingernails or toenails.

There are more severe side effects but they are very uncommon and let’s honest here, all medications come with a laundry list of side effects, however, here is one of the more significant ones.

Accutane can cause birth defects in babies, so women should never take the drug if they are pregnant. I found some literature stating that women have to sign an agreement to take two different forms of birth control and take pregnancy tests while they are on Accutane, to make sure that they do not get pregnant while taking the drug. Because of all of the negative side effects that Accutane can cause, the negative aspect of the drug has been played up significantly.

There is no scientific evidence proving that Accutane can cause infertility later on years after taking the drug, but there are lots of online forums and message boards that indicate that many women think that Accutane is the reason for their fertility difficulties. I visited many of these me boards and asked for feedback, to my surprise, several people wrote back that they did in fact get pregnant in time.

I must have read 10 different case studies that offered little to no information about why Isotretinoin did not work as therapy for ILVEN but all cases suggested minimal effects. Minimal meaning, it DID in fact have some effect, just not enough to continue.

To my fellow readers, I am curious to know if you have tried this form of treatment and if so, what were the results? Do you have any advice for those being offered this as a potential treatment? Thanks for your feedback!

Thanks for walking with us today,

Mermaid’s Mommy


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