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Isotretinoin is a powerful and effective medicine derived from vitamin A (retinoid medicine). Doctors prescribe it to treat severe acne only after other treatments have failed. Isotretinoin can cause some rare but serious side effects. Just one dose of isotretinoin can cause severe birth defects if a woman is pregnant when taking this medicine.1
Isotretinoin usually needs to be taken for 3 to 6 months.
Doctors use isotretinoin to treat people who:
Isotretinoin is very effective for controlling most types of acne and for clearing it up for long periods of time.2
Retinoid medicines may have side effects, such as:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Isotretinoin is strictly regulated for use in women because of the danger of miscarriage and of serious birth defects in babies whose mothers took the medicine during pregnancy. Doctors may only prescribe these medicines for a female who is not pregnant and who does not intend to become pregnant while taking the medicine. You must also use two methods of birth control and have pregnancy tests on a regular basis while using this medication.
Last Revised: March 22, 2012
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.