Roaccutane and Acne: less is more.

Firstly, where does acne come from? What causes this dreadful self-confidence destroyer? In short, it’s a vicious cycle that about 80% of teenagers, and even adults up to 30 years old, can go through. However, it’s still normal and mostly manageable. It starts when hormones start raging: in boys testosterone, in girls estrogens. These hormones irritate the sebum glands of the skin until they become over active and consequently blocked. Blackheads, whiteheads and comedones follow. That leads to infection which gives you the pustules that we like to squeeze, which leads to scarring. This is then followed by self-consciousness, mood changes and sometimes withdrawal and depression.

How do we treat and or prevent this? Firstly, it has nothing to do with diet. Surely enough water is good for the skin, but chocolates or sugary foods don’t cause acne. We have to break this cycle. There are three basic principles in treating acne: First regulate the hormones, then dry up the glands, and lastly kill the bugs that infect them. Let’s start with the hormones. In girls it’s fairly easy: as soon as the menstrual cycle has settled girls can start taking ‘The Pill’. These contraceptives (such as Diane 35 , Minerva and Ginette) are used to “suppress” the ovarian function and so limit hormonal effect on sebum glands.

Boys, however, don’t have it as simply: with them we have to skip this step and go straight to the next one, namely drying up the glands and/or use antibiotics. This is where the “dreaded” Roaccutane (isotretinoin) comes in. Many doctor, however, believe Roaccutane is a miracle drug. The results are amazing and at an adjusted dosage, its side effects are minimal.

But how does Roaccutane work? Being a vitamin that regulates cell growth, (vit A , AKA retinoids, retinol, tretinoin, retinoic acid), it “dries up” the glands, and speeds up skin turnover, thereby preventing blockage of glands. At recommended dosage it unfortunately dries up everything! Eyes, nose, lips, skin and even joints. This results in chapped lips, sunburn, dry eyes and in extreme cases painful and inflamed joints. High dosages of vitamin A also affect the liver. The recommend dosage is 1 mg per kg body weight …this is usually about 60mg (3tabs) per day for 4 months. I have had excellent results with lower dosages that minimize side effects. One tablet (20 mg) per day or even just three times a week seems effective enough to clear the skin. Adding cosmeceuticals like topical vitamin A ( SKINMEDICA Retinol complex ) results in healthy skin and patients. For more about cosmeceuticals check out our other articles on the site.