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Molecule Description

Isotretinoin is a form of Vitamin A used to treat acne.


Uses of Isotretinoin

  • In treating severe acne (specifically nodular acne)
  • It is also used in the treatment of cancer of skin

Contraindications of Isotretinoin

When should one not use Isotretinoin

  • You are pregnant or planning pregnancy or breastfeeding or a women of childbearing age and not using contraception
  • You are allergic to Isotretinoin
  • Children less than 12 years
  • If you have liver disease
  • If you have very high levels of lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides) in your blood
  • If you have increased levels of Vitamin A in your body (hypervitaminosis A)
  • If you are taking tetracyclines (a type of antibiotic medicine)

Side effects of Isotretinoin

Common side effects of this drug are:

  • Chapped lips, dizziness, drowsiness, dry eyes, mouth or skin
  • Dry nose that may lead to nosebleeds, headache and temporary worsening of acne
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Kidney problems
  • Jaundice
  • Abnormal hair growth
  • Bleeding, redness or swelling of the gums
  • Hearing problems or ringing in the ears and vision issues
  • Severe psychological disturbances including suicidal tendencies
  • Stomach and pancreas problems
  • Growth problems in children

Precautions and Warnings of Isotretinoin



Can I take Isotretinoin during pregnancy?
Do not use if you are pregnant. This medicine is known to cause severe birth defects in the fetus. Hence, it is strictly avoided in a sexually active woman unless foolproof contraception methods are followed.

Breast Feeding

Can I take Isotretinoin while breastfeeding?
You must not take Isotretinoin if you are breastfeeding. The medicine is likely to pass into breast milk and may harm your baby.


Can I drive if I have consumed Isotretinoin?
Always be cautious when driving at night because this medicine may affect your night vision. It can also cause drowsiness and dizziness.


Can I consume alcohol with Isotretinoin?
It is unsafe to consume alcohol with Isotretinoin. It can cause elevated heartbeats, nausea and vomiting.

Other General Warnings

Talk to your doctor if
  • If you are a woman of childbearing age, strictly use contraception, this medicine can cause serious harm to an unborn baby
  • Do not plan pregnancy immediately after stopping this medicine as some amount of medicine continues to stay in the body even after finishing the treatment
  • While taking this medicine, if you experience depression or aggressive tendencies or mood changes or thoughts about hurting yourself or ending your life; immediately inform your doctor
  • This medicine can increase the liver enzymes or blood cholesterol
  • This medicine causes extreme dryness of skin. Use moisturizer
  • Your skin may become sensitive to sunlight, avoid excessive sun exposure
  • If you experienced headache, vomiting stop the medication immediately and seek emergency medical care. It can be serious

Mode of Action of Isotretinoin

How Does It Work?

Isotretinoin decreases the amount of oil released by oil glands in your skin and helps your skin renew itself more quickly. Isotretinoin is used to treat severe nodular acne which is not responding to...
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Interactions of Isotretinoin

Interactions with other medicines

  • Medicine like Tetracycline have additive effects
  • Effect of progesterone-only contraceptive pills might be reduced
  • Any other form of Vitamin A should be avoided along with this medicine and can cause overdose problems
  • Anti convulsion medications may decrease the effect of Isotretinoin

Interactions with food items

It is advisable to take along with food as it increases heartburn if taken on an empty stomach. Avoid oily and junk food for the overall effect.

Dietary Restrictions of Isotretinoin

No information is available on dietary restrictions while you are taking Isotretinoin, consult your doctor or pharmacist for further information.

Dosage of Isotretinoin


Symptoms may include facial flushing, headache, dizziness, loss of balance, stomach pain and vomiting. Immediately seek for emergency medical help.

Missed a Dose

If you missed any dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is time for your next dosage, then skip the missed dose. Do not take extra medicine to compensate for the missed dose.

Content Details


Dr. Ritu Budania

MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q: Can I take this medicine without a prescription?

A: No. This medicine should only be taken with a prescription. Continuation of treatment requires a new prescription.

Q: I was taking Isotretinoin, and I realized I am pregnant what I should do?

A: Immediately stop taking this medicine and inform your doctor about your pregnancy. This medicine can seriously harm the unborn baby. The decision to continue or discontinue the pregnancy should be taken in consultation with your doctor as there are high chances of having a baby with defects.
Last Updated on: 05 Oct 2020 | 10:47 PM (IST)

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