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Accutane

Q:What Young Men/Women Need to Know About Acne…

That’s right even though everything else you and your doctor have tried hasn’t worked, you stand a great chance of clearing up your acne with Accutane (isotretinoin). This web page will help you understand acne better, why your doctor has chosen Accutane for you, and what to expect from treatment. It is important that you read this web page completely before you take Accutane because it contains important information about the medicine and possible side effects you may experience during therapy. Of course, this web page cannot tell you all there is to know about Accutane (isotretinoin)-if you have any questions, ask your doctor.

One thing you should know about Accutane is that clinical studies have shown that Accutane does not cause any negative effects on the ability to produce normal sperm or on male reproduction. Although you may see the special instructions to female patients on the package of Accutane, and on other materials your doctor may give you about Accutane (isotretinoin), these instructions about avoiding pregnancy do not apply to young men.

It is true that female patients must avoid pregnancy during therapy with Accutane and for 1 month afterwards. This is because Accutane affects the way a baby grows and develops before birth. If a female patient uses Accutane during pregnancy, the result can be severe birth defects. This effect lasts all during treatment and for a month afterward. Young women MUST read the warning on the bottom of this web page.

Accutane (isotretinoin) affects the way the fetus grows and develops if it is taken during pregnancy. Accutane does not affect the ability to reproduce. Young men may rest assured that the special instructions for young women to avoid pregnancy do not apply to them. However, you should not give blood during therapy or for 1 month after you stop taking Accutane, because a pregnant woman may get it.

Although the warnings to women to avoid pregnancy during Accutane therapy do not apply to young men, other warnings, precautions and possible side effects apply to both men and women.

Accutane (isotretinoin) has been precribed by your doctor for you. Do not give Accutane (isotretinoin) to any of your friends, male or female!

You should know that this booklet has been developed with the needs of young men in mind. Although young women may also find this web page helpful, they must discuss very important information with their doctors before taking Accutane.

Q:The Acne Basic

Acne is a disease that affects the oil producing (sebaceous) glands in the skin. The oil made by sebaceous glands is called sebum. Sebaceous glands make almost no sebum in childhood but during puberty this changes along with the rest of your body. These changes are due to natural substances (called hormones) that are made by your body. These hormones change your body into that of an adult and make your sebaceous glands grow and produce large amount of sebum. The sebaceous glands that make the most sebum are located on the face, back and chest.

Sebaceous glands are attached to every hair follicle on your body. A follicle is a tiny, almost invisible, pore in your skin out of which hair grows. Normally, sebum flows out of the sebaceous gland, up through the hair follicle and out a pore to the
skin’s surface.

Sometimes, the path the sebum follows to the skin’s surface gets clogged, and the sebum can’t get out. Several things may cause this clogging, for example, dead skin cells mixed with sebum. In addition there is a type of bacteria, or germ, called P.acnes that digests sebum. P.acnes can infect sebaceous glands. When this happens, the pimples of acne occur.

Pimples may become large and painful as sebum and dead cells continue to build up in the sebaceous gland. Sometimes this buildup causes the infected sebaceous gland to burst parts of the skin. This can result in nodules-sore red lumps under the skin. Nodules can result in scars. This is called nodular acne.

Q:Why Young Men Tend to Have Worse Acne Than Young Women

As mentioned above, sebaceous glands grow and make more sebum during puberty. This is because of the hormones that the body makes, which cause a child to develop into an adult. The hormones that change boys into men are called androgens. In general, women’s bodies make a small amount of androgens, but not nearly as much as men’s bodies do.

Androgens have a very powerful effect on sebaceous glands. Because there is a much greater amount of androgens being produced in young men’s bodies, acne can be more severe and longer lasting in young men than young women. In addition, young men are more likely than young women to have acne on their chest and back, which is harder to treat than acne on the face.

Q:How Accutane Works

Accutane (isotretinoin) shrinks the size of sebaceous glands and reduces the amount of sebum they make. With less sebum, P.acnes no longer thrives. Accutane also has other effects on the skin that may help prevent hair follicles from getting clogged with dead skin cells. With all of these effects, Accutane works quite well.

In fact, in clinical studies of people with the most severe kinds of acne (called severe recalcitrant nodular acne) almost everybody had their acne clear up. These good results often last a long time, too some people have never had their acne come back, even after almost 15 years! So, Accutane (isotretinoin) cannot only clear up your acne, it can also make it stay away in most cases. Accutane is generally reserved for only the most severe cases of acne. Your doctor will decide if it is the right treatment for you.

Your treatment will last about 4 to 6 months. During the first few weeks, you may experience a temporary worsening of with your acne. If this happens, tell your doctor. Not everyone experiences this effect. In addition, this effect is temporary, since had their acne clear up. These even people who experienced it had their acne get better later on. So, even if it happens, Accutane (isotretinoin) is still working. By staying with treatment, your acne will get better.

Here’s how to give yourself the best chance of clearing up your acne for the longest possible time:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding treatment. Only if Accutane is taken properly will it do its job. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask your doctor about it.
  • Stay with treatment. The effect Accutane (isotretinoin) has on skin to treat acne can cause side effects, as you’ll see on the next pages. Don’t let this discourage you. The long-term results are usually excellent, and you should discuss with your doctor whether stopping the medication would be the best thing to do.
  • Keep your Accutane in a cool, dark place. Excessive heat or direct sunlight can reduce the ability of Accutane to clear your acne. However, Accutane does not need refrigeration-just keep it at normal room temperature, away from the sun.
  • Take Accutane (isotretinoin) with food. Taking Accutane with food increases its ability to clear your acne. As with any medication, keep Accutane away from children and pets. Do not give Accutane to anyone else.
Q:Before Your Treatment Begins…

To make sure Accutane (isotretinoin) is right for you, and to decide what dosage you should get, your doctor will need some information.

  • Blood tests will be performed before treatment begins and, to check your bodies response to Accutane, during your treatment.
  • A family history of diabetes, heart disease, liver disease or depression may affect your bodies response to Accutane (isotretinoin). Inform your doctor if you or anyone in your family has these conditions.
  • Allergies to certain foods or medicines, or a sensitivity to parabens, may affect your treatment. Tell your doctor if you have any such allergies.
  • Vigorous physical activity may also affect your treatment. Let your doctor know if you plan to undertake such exercise.
  • Vitamin supplements that contain vitamin A can add to the unwanted effects of Accutane This (isotretinoin). This is because Accutane is related to vitamin A. If you are taking such vitamin supplements, you should stop and tell your doctor. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Q:What to Expect During Treatment

As mentioned before, Accutane (isotretinoin) works quite well. The good effects Accutane has on acne are to due to its general effects on the skin. You need to know what to expect from Accutane so that you will stay with treatment and get good results.

During treatment, as was noted earlier, you may notice a temporary worsening of your acne before it begins to clear up. It does not happen to everyone, and even if it does happen, Accutane (isotretinoin) is still working-in the large majority of patients, acne will clear up with continued treatment. But, if it occurs, notify your doctor.

In addition, the way Accutane works clear up acne may cause some side effects elsewhere on your body. These effects usually happen on skin-related parts of your body, such as your hair, inside your mouth and nose, and your eyes. Accutane can have a drying effect on all of these areas, which can be taken as a sign that Accutane is doing its job.

Some of these effects may require that your doctor change the dosage of Accutane (isotretinoin), so be sure to inform your doctor if you experience any. The unwanted effects that Accutane has are temporary and almost always disappear after you stop taking it. However, in rare cases, the effects have persisted after therapy.

The more common side effects of Accutane include dry skin and lips, dry mouth and nose, redness of the eyes, mild nosebleed, bleeding and inflammation of the gums, aches and pains, itching, rash, skin fragility, increased sensitivity to the sun, and peeling of palms and soles. Your doctor may recommend lotions, nasal moisturizing sprays, saline eye drops, and so on, that can help lessen many of these drying effects.

The drying effect on the eyes may also make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable. Let your doctor know if you wear contact lenses.

A few patients have noticed thinning of the hair during treatment. Most patients-more than 90% – do not experience this effect to any degree. Minimal bone changes have been detected by x-ray examinations in some patients receiving Accutane (isotretinoin). The significance of these changes is not known.

Some patients have experienced decreased night vision, which can occur rather suddenly. You should be especially careful when driving or operating any machinery at night. If you experience any visual effects, stop taking Accutane and call your doctor.

Accutane may also cause some less common, but potentially more serious, side effects.

BE ALERT FOR ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • HEADACHES, NAUSEA, VOMITING, BLURRED VISION
  • CHANGES IN MOOD
  • SEVERE ABDOMINAL OR STOMACH PAIN, DIARRHEA, RECTAL BLEEDING
  • PERSISTENT FEELING OF DRYNESS OF THE EYES
  • YELLOWING OF THE SKIN OR EYES AND/OR DARK URINE

IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF VISION THESE SYMPTOMS, OR ANY OTHER UNUSUAL OR SEVERE PROBLEMS, DISCONTINUE TAKING ACCUTANE (isotretinoin) AND CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY. THEY MAY BE THE EARLY SIGNS OF MORE SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS WHICH, IF LEFT UNTREATED, COULD POSSIBLY RESULT IN PERMANENT EFFECTS.

Remember that your treatment has been individualized for you. Your doctor may change your dosage during treatment depending upon your body’s unique response to Accutane (isotretinoin). Therefore, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. If you miss a dose, do not double up on the next dose. Keep all of your scheduled appointments so that your doctor can monitor your progress.

Treatment will last about 4 to 6 months. Follow your doctor’s instructions the whole time. It’s a commitment, but it’s worth it.

Q:A Word About the Reproductive Effects of Accutane

For young men…
On the beginning of this web page, it was mentioned how this web page was created with the needs of young men in mind. In clinical trials, Accutane (isotretinoin) has shown no significant negative effects on a young man’s ability to produce normal sperm. Therefore, specific warnings, directed to female patients to avoid pregnancy, do not apply to males.

However, you should know that Accutane (isotretinoin) affects the development of the fetus once it has been conceived and can result in birth defects if a pregnant woman takes it. Young men need to know this because:

  • People taking Accutane must not give Accutane to anyone else, male or female.
  • People taking Accutane must not give blood during treatment or for 1 month afterward. One reason for this is that the blood could be given to a pregnant woman.

For young women:
AN IMPORTANT WARNING

In young women, Accutane (isotretinoin) can result in clearing of their acne just as it does in young men. Women who take Accutane must be reliable and must follow the instructions below, plus all of the requirements that their doctors will describe.

ACCUTANE CAN CAUSE BIRTH DEFECTS. YOUNG WOMEN MUST NOT TAKE ACCUTANE IF THEY ARE PREGNANT OR MAY BECOME PREGNANT DURING TREATMENT OR WITHIN 1 MONTH AFTERWARD. YOUNG WOMEN MUST DISCUSS THIS ISSUE WITH THEIR DOCTORS BEFORE TAKING ACCUTANE (isotretinoin). BEFORE TREATMENT CAN BEGIN:

WOMEN MUST HAVE A BLOOD OR URINE TEST DONE BY THEIR DOCTOR THAT SHOWS THEY ARE NOT PREGNANT BEFORE THEY START TAKING ACCUTANE.

WOMEN MUST WAIT UNTIL THE SECOND OR THIRD DAY OF THEIR PERIOD TO START TAKING ACCUTANE.

WOMEN MUST USE TWO FORMS OF EFFECTIVE BIRTH CONTROL FOR AT LEAST 1 MONTH BEFORE, DURING AND FOR 1 MONTH AFTER TAKING ACCUTANE (isotretinoin).

WOMEN MUST SEND IN THE FORM INSIDE THE MEDICATION PACKAGE TO SIGN UP FOR THE CONFIDENTIAL FOLLOW-UP SURVEY.