While isotretinoin (formerly called Accutane) may be controversial in the beauty space, there’s nothing wrong with taking it—especially if you’ve tried everything else and want to finally clear up cystic breakouts. 

In fact, there’s been a decent amount of fear mongering over the years when it comes to isotretinoin. As Kobets says, “Many male and female patients with moderate to severe cystic acne tolerate oral isotretinoin without major effects.” 

However, a few drawbacks of taking isotretinoin include frequent doctor visits, strict contraceptive measures for those who could become pregnant while taking isotretinoin, and a long treatment course (typically around 5 to 6 months). 

There are some controversial side effects as well, “Skin dryness, cholesterol elevation, liver abnormalities, depression and inflammatory bowel disease—the latter two are controversial on how much of increased risk there really is,” Kobets notes. 

Given all of the above, it only makes sense that isotretinoin is prescription-only. If you’re curious about isotretinoin, ask your doctor about eligibility, risks, and current formulations and research—as they’re up to date on all of the current medications and information. 



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