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Isotretinoin (Accutane) - Side Effects And Treatment Of Side Effects

Accutane (Isotretinoin) side-effects generally fall into two categories: Common side-effects that are relatively mild, and those that are rare, but potentially serious. This section treats the common side-effects, and explains ways to best manage or cope with these side-effects. Although these are considered minor side-effects as its consequences are rarely serious, they occur far more commonly and can be frustrating for the patient.

Patients should think about how these common side-effects will affect them, and read about ways to manage them, and to understand what they can reasonably expect. Side-effects are generally dose dependent; the higher the dose, the worse the effect in general. These side-effects generally become less severe with time as the body becomes used to it.

Common side-effects

Dry lips

Dry lips are almost universal in patients taking any type of isotretinion, and patients should expect this and be prepared. Lip balm, preferably with SPF can help soothe drying lips, and reduce pain. Sticky ointments are the best for relieving severe dryness.

Dry skin

Dry skin is also another common side-effect of isotretinion. The back of the hands and the forearms are typically dry areas to being with, and it is these areas that patients will notice drying. Regular use of moisturizers will help alleviate dryness of the skin. Although dry skin is not considered a serious complication, it is important to manage dryness as it can cause the skin to become more susceptible to infections.

Dry eyes

Dry eyes are also a commonly noted side-effect. Use of artificial tears can help the eye maintain moisture.

Night vision problems

Night vision problems are sometimes noted as a side-effect of using isotretinion. Generally these are temporary effects, but if serious, an ophthalmologist will need to be consulted.

Nasal dryness

Nasal dryness is also a possible side-effect. Symptoms can be relieved by nose lubricants such as SecarisŪ (Pharmascience) or Rhinaris Lubricating Nasal GelŪ (Pharmascience).

Hair thinning

Thought to affect up to 13% of users. This is generally a temporary side-effect.


A very common side-effect. Patients are encouraged to use sunscreens on a regular basis to prevent any damage.


General fatigue is relatively common in the early stages.


Headaches have been reported to be with 5% and 15%. If the headache starts early in the day and wares out later, contact a doctor as a more rare but serious side-effect called intracranial hypertension may be a rare side-effect of isotretinion.