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What are the dangers and side effects of taking Acutane for severe acne?

By Anonymous July 10, 2009 - 10:05am
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My nephew has started taking acutane for sever acne. As I understand it, this is a very powerful drug. Does anyone know any dangers or side effects that may occur from taking this drug?

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HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon

Thanks so much for your question and for looking out for your nephew.

Accutane is indeed a serious medication for acne. From the makers website, here is an INCOMPLETE list of side effects :

Accutane side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using Accutane and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

depressed mood, trouble concentrating, sleep problems, crying spells, aggression or agitation, changes in behavior, hallucinations, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;

sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;

blurred vision, sudden and severe headache or pain behind your eyes, sometimes with vomiting;

hearing problems, hearing loss, or ringing in your ears;

seizure (convulsions);

severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;

loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

severe diarrhea, rectal bleeding, black, bloody, or tarry stools;

fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, purple spots under your skin, easy bruising or bleeding; or

joint stiffness, bone pain or fracture.

Less serious Accutane side effects may include:

discomfort with contact lenses;

joint pain, back pain;

feeling dizzy, drowsy, or nervous;

dryness of the lips, mouth, nose, or skin; or

cracking or peeling skin, itching, rash, changes in your fingernails or toenails.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Fortunately you are asking for a nephew, not a niece because accutane can do terrible things to an unborn baby. So terrible that women of child bearing age must sign an official agreement not to get pregnant and have to take a pregnancy test before each prescription is refilled.

Your nephew needs to be very open to his doctor about any other medications he is on.

Here's a map of the human body that shows the areas that can be severely affected (namely, the entire body).

Accutane does do a very good job in many cases but it's very powerful, as are it's side effects. Do you know why he chose Accutane? Is his acne that bad? Has he tried other methods/medications?

July 10, 2009 - 12:12pm
EmpowHER Guest

I've never been on it, but both of my sisters and my dad have all been on it at different times.

I know there is a huge risk of SEVERE birth defects if you take it while pregnant. Their dermatologists strongly advised that my sisters be on birth control while taking it. I guess that won't be an issue for nephew though :)

As I recall it also makes you very sun sensitive, you sunburn very easily. It also dries out the skin, especially the lips.

It is a very strong drug, but it has worked for everybody that I know that has taken it. Good luck to your nephew.

July 10, 2009 - 12:11pm
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