Last time we talked about Accutane, we talked about the drug’s effectiveness in treating moderate to severe acne, typically the cystic acne of the teenage years. Accutane is a great treatment option for this otherwise difficult skin condition. However, it often comes with side effects such as dry eyes, nose and lips, muscle aches, etc. And like a TV drug commercial, I have to mention the less frequent but more severe possible side effects like vision loss, hearing loss, bone growth abnormalities, suicide risks, and GI symptoms.
But what if there was a dosage of Accutane that would still clear acne (or excessively oily skin or rosacea papules) often without the same side effects of the typical dosing? Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Normal dose Accutane is regularly dosed based upon body weight and often increases slowly over the course of several months. A low dose regimen uses less milligrams and is taken less often. For example, instead of taking a high dose of 40mg twice a day, the lower dose protocol might be 10mg, twice a week.
This off-label use of Accutane provides great control of oiliness, as well as eliminating many, if not all of the common side effects. We call it “off-label” because the original FDA approval tests did not use this dosage or this frequency when the medication was approved. This also means we do not know what effects this protocol may have when used long term, or if this eliminates any or all of the more serious side effects. We do, however, still believe that absolute birth control is a must for female patients.
If you have persistent acne or oily skin into your adult years, come see us at Dermatology Realm and let us determine if the off-label use of Accutane may be something that is appropriate for your skin.