Isotretinoin— most commonly marketed under the brand names Accutane, Myorisan, Amnesteem, and Zenatane— is one of the most-discussed treatments for severe acne. An FDA-approved topical retinoid derived from vitamin A, Isotretinoin may be hailed as the “cure-all” for severe acne… but is that really the case?
If you’ve done your research, you know that Isotretinoin isn’t without its negative side-effects— some of which are both mentally and physically dire. As a parent, you may be wondering if there is a safer treatment option for your child’s acne and, if there is, what an acne specialist would recommend instead.
But First, a Bit About Myself as Both an Acne Specialist and a Mother— and Why Isotretinoin is a Topic Close to My Heart
If you’re new to Face 5 Acne Solution Center, welcome! My name is Yuki, and I’m the founder of Face 5; we are proud to offer science-backed acne solutions for children, teenagers, and adults here in Colorado Springs and around the globe who:
- Have removed common “acne-trigger” foods from their diet but are not seeing a change in their complexion
- Have tried prescription-strength topical and oral treatments from dermatologists without seeing long-term results
- Are feeling hopeless about their acne because they feel that they have tried everything on the Internet and are now considering Isotretinoin as a last resort
Now, why do I dissuade parents from jumping onto the Isotretinoin train for their teenagers’ severe acne? Because I was in exactly your shoes and, as both a mother and an acne specialist, I can’t allow parents to make that decision without informing them of safer acne treatment solutions for their teens.
When one of my sons was sixteen, he began experiencing distressing red papules around his nose and mouth. And what was one of the treatments our dermatologist recommended for his acne? Isotretinoin.
As someone who, at that point in time, was not overly familiar with Isotretinoin and was also a Preventative Healthcare instructor in Japan (in fact, did you know that Accutane isn’t even available in Japan?!), you can imagine my shock when I looked up the serious side-effects of Isotretinoin after it being mentioned that Isotretinoin can trigger depression and suicidal thoughts in otherwise healthy teenagers.
I raised all of my sons to be confident teens who always put their health first, so putting them on a medication that threatened both their physical and mental health was a no-go for me.
And guess what? I’ve had so many parents who had taken Isotretinoin themselves when they were battling acne throughout their teenage years come to Face 5 clinic with their children’s acne because they don’t want to see their children suffer through the same side-effects as they did in their quest for clear skin.
Now That the Intro is Out the Way, Let’s Jump Right Into it: What Are the Most Serious Isotretinoin Side-Effects in Teenagers?
- Increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as stroke, heart palpitations, vascular thrombotic disease, and tachycardia
- Joint and muscle problems, as well as having a probability of stunting the growth of long bones in teens
- Pressure on the brain that can lead to seizures, strokes, migraines, chronic dizziness, nausea, and, in the most severe cases, a permanent loss of eyesight
- Long-term damage to teens’ liver, pancreas, esophagus, and intestines
- Serious blood sugar concerns, including diabetes
- Low red and white blood cell counts, which contribute to anemia and likelihood of infections
- A reported increase in depression and suicidal thoughts
- An extremely high risk of birth defects if pregnancy occurs while taking Isotretinoin; the likelihood of birth defects due to Isotretinoin is so high, in fact, that patients seeking Isotretinoin must sign a waiver, conduct two negative pregnancy tests, and take two forms of birth control while taking Isotretinoin in order to be prescribed it
The risks of Isotretinoin go on and on. While the price of Isotretinoin is covered by some insurances and taking it requires no change in lifestyle or diet, like the majority of more holistic acne treatments, as a parent I knew that the risks outweighed the potential reward. The benefit? All of my sons are now happily acne-free and have been for years, no Isotretinoin required!
So Yuki, What ARE the Safer Options My Teen Can Be Treated for Acne?
I’m so glad you asked! For us parents, when trying to treat acne for our teenagers— the majority of whom are already combating low self-esteem and are playing sports competitively— the last thing we want to do is immediately decide on Isotretinoin without exploring safer acne treatment options!
While there is no cure for acne, acne specialists can treat and manage acne effectively long-term in myriad ways:
- Research, research, research: acne treatment isn’t a one-size fits all and shouldn’t be treated as such! Book your your free 15-minute consultation with Face 5 today, and be sure to check out our reservoir of free acne resources
- Ensure that you get an acne specialist’s guidance: fill out our best-selling Acne Rescue Kit assessment form. What makes our Acne Rescue Kit our best-seller? Well, each kit is 100% customized, comes with 5 – 7 expert-chosen non-comedogenic skin care products based on the client’s specific skin care needs, a complimentary Acne Solution Guide, and one complimentary acne specialist-approved Icy Gel and lip balm from our online store. If you’re not sure which kit to purchase, reach out to us directly for an expert recommendation!
- Maintain your results: for long-term clear skin, know that maintenance is crucial to combat seasonal changes, alterations in sports routines, etc. We here at Face 5 recommend booking maintenance appointments every 4 – 6 weeks virtually or in-clinic.
Isotretinoin: There IS a Safer Way to Treat Your Teen’s Acne
The takeaway? There is a safer, longer-term way to treat your teenager’s acne— and Face 5’s customized, science-backed treatments and education are the way to go.
Get in touch today to learn the most effective way to treat your child’s specific skin needs and goals, medication-free!