Accutane - the side effects, how to manage them and natural alternatives.

skin health Feb 27, 2024

Accutane, also known by its generic name isotretinoin, is a potent oral medication primarily used to treat severe cystic or nodular acne that has not responded well to other treatments. It belongs to a class of medications called retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A.

Accutane works by reducing the size of the oil glands in the skin, decreasing the amount of oil produced, and preventing clogged pores, which are common contributors to acne. It is typically prescribed for a course of several months, during which patients may experience significant improvement in their acne symptoms.

However, Accutane can have potentially serious side effects and is associated with certain risks, including dry skin, lips, and eyes, increased sensitivity to sunlight, muscle and joint pain, and mood changes.

Making the decisions to go on Accutane is not always an easy one, there are many side effects.

Common side effects associated with taking Accutane:

  • Dryness: One of the most common side effects of Accutane is dryness, which can affect the skin, lips, eyes, and mucous membranes.  

  • Skin sensitivity: Accutane can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, leading to an increased risk of sunburn and sun damage. It's important to use broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF.
  • Muscle and joint pain: Some individuals may experience muscle and joint pain while taking Accutane. This pain can range from mild discomfort to more severe symptoms that interfere with daily activities. 
  • Fatigue: Some individuals may experience increased fatigue or feelings of tiredness while taking Accutane. This could manifest as a general lack of energy or motivation. 
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: Accutane can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. These symptoms are usually mild and improve with continued use of the medication, but if they become severe or persistent. 

If you or someone in your family does make the decision to go on Accutane, here a few things to help with the side effects

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help counteract some of the drying effects of Accutane, such as dry skin, lips, and eyes. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to stay hydrated.
  • Moisturize regularly: Use gentle, hydrating moisturizers to help alleviate dryness and irritation caused by Accutane. Look for products that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides to help maintain the skin's moisture barrier.
  • Use sunscreen: Accutane can increase your skin's sensitivity to sunlight, so it's important to protect yourself from sunburn and sun damage. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day, and reapply regularly if you'll be spending time outdoors.
  • Incorporate omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation and support overall skin health. Consider incorporating these foods into your diet while taking Accutane.

  • Practice stress-reduction techniques: Accutane can sometimes exacerbate feelings of stress or anxiety. Practicing stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or spending time in nature can help promote relaxation and support your overall well-being during treatment.

While there isn't a natural alternative to Accutane with the same potency, several natural remedies and lifestyle changes may help improve acne symptoms for some individuals. 

Here are some options to consider:

Chemical peel: Chemical peels involve the application of a solution to the skin, which exfoliates the outermost layers and stimulates cell turnover. This can help unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and improve the appearance of acne scars.

The right skincare products:  Sulfur Soap(available at the clinic) is beneficial for acne-prone skin due to its natural antibacterial properties that help kill acne-causing bacteria, its ability to exfoliate and unclog pores, regulation of oil production to prevent pore blockages, mild anti-inflammatory effects that reduce redness and swelling, and its gentle nature, making it suitable for sensitive skin. 

Dietary changes: Adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while minimizing processed foods, sugary snacks, and dairy products can further support skin health. Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, may also help reduce inflammation and improve acne symptoms.

Stress reduction: Incorporating stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can complement the effects of chemical peels by promoting relaxation and reducing stress-related hormonal fluctuations that can exacerbate acne.

Probiotics and herbal supplements: After a chemical peel, supporting gut health with probiotic-rich foods and considering herbal supplements like saw palmetto or spearmint tea may help balance hormones and reduce acne flare-ups.

In summary, it's essential to explore natural alternatives before considering such a potent medication. Natural remedies, including topical treatments with ingredients like tea tree oil or aloe vera, dietary adjustments, stress reduction techniques, and lifestyle changes, offer holistic approaches to managing acne symptoms without the potential side effects associated with Accutane.

By prioritizing natural remedies, individuals can take proactive steps toward achieving clearer skin while promoting overall health and well-being.

Are you in Moncton? Take this opportunity to have a professional natural skin rejuvenation treatment with our medical aesthetician at EASTND.

Skin Team at EASTND - Book Now 

Not in Moncton? That's ok, we offer virtual skin rejuvenation consultations - BOOK HERE


Instagram: @skinbykdu  and @eastnd


Call 1.506.830.8333

Moncton Website


Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. You'r information will not be shared.


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.