Are Accutane Side Effects Permanent?

Despite its powerful impact on acne, Accutane is known for its range of side effects and is often associated with negative experiences.

Some of its common side effects range from mild to temporary, while others can be more serious and lasting.

Therefore, in this article, I will explore these side effects in detail and explain a little about their nature as well as the factors that may affect their duration and severity.

I will also provide plenty of practical strategies to manage these side effects, ensuring that individuals using Accutane can maintain their overall health and well-being while achieving clear and healthy skin.

are accutane side effects permanent

NB: I can show you how to never have acne again. If you have acne and want it gone, read this message.

What is Accutane and How Does it Work?

Accutane is a brand name for the medication known as isotretinoin, primarily used to treat severe acne.

It belongs to a class of medications called retinoids derived from vitamin A.

Accutane targets the skin’s oil glands and reduces their size and activity.

This leads to less oil production and fewer acne breakouts, as excess oil is often a contributing factor to acne.

Additionally, Accutane renews skin cells more rapidly, which can refine acne scars by improving skin tone and texture.

While highly effective, Accutane is typically reserved for severe or persistent acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments.

This is because its intense nature is commonly associated with side effects experienced by most users.

The Common Side Effects of Accutane

nose bleed can be caused by accutane
While it’s not common for Accutane, it does happen in rare instances.

Accutane’s effectiveness comes with a range of side effects, predominantly affecting the skin.

These include:

Dry Skin:

Decreased oil secretion often leads to noticeably dry skin, a common experience for most Accutane users.

Dry Lips:

Like skin, dry lips are another common Accutane side effect, necessitating regular application of lip balms.

Irritation and Redness:

Many users report a degree of skin irritation and redness during their Accutane treatment.

Flaking and Peeling:

As the skin adjusts to Accutane, flaking and peeling can occur, especially in the initial stages of treatment.

Sensitivity to Sunlight:

Increased sensitivity to sunlight and the probability of sunburns are other common Accutane side effects necessitating broad-spectrum sunscreens.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Side Effects of Accutane

Accutane’s impact on the body can be categorized into short-term and long-term side effects.

Understanding this distinction is crucial for anyone considering or currently undergoing Accutane treatment.

The Short-Term Side Effects of Accutane

The common short-term side effects of Accutane include skin dryness, irritation, flaking, and increased sun sensitivity.

Short-term side effects of Accutane start almost immediately after treatment begins and typically resolve within two months after treatment is completed.

This is because isotretinoin continues to work in the body for several weeks after treatment stops, and these side effects result from its presence.

In rare cases, short-term side effects may persist for up to six months after treatment, with dryness and sun sensitivity being the most prominent among them.

Additionally, a few non-skin-related short-term side effects, such as mild muscle and joint aches, have been occasionally reported, but these are rare and not typically persistent.

The Long-Term Side Effects of Accutane

While most side effects of Accutane are short-lived, there are concerns about potential long-term effects.

The less common long-term side effects of Accutane include persistent dry skin, changes in skin texture, and, in rare instances, ongoing vision changes and gastrointestinal issues.

These long-term side effects may become apparent during the treatment or emerge after completion.

Unlike the short-term effects, which are directly linked to the presence of isotretinoin in the body and typically resolve within a few weeks post-treatment, long-term effects can persist for extended periods.

The reason for these prolonged effects is not entirely clear, but they are thought to be related to the lasting changes isotretinoin induces in the skin and other organs.

For example, Accutane alters the functioning of the sebaceous glands in the skin, which reduces oil production.

This fundamental change can sometimes lead to permanent damage or “rewiring” of the glands, causing persistent dryness and changes in skin texture down the line.

Additionally, Accutane is essentially a nuclear dose of vitamin A, which is a component that’s quite hard for the body to get rid of due to its fat-soluble nature.

Unlike water-soluble vitamins, which the body can excrete easily, fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A are stored in the body’s tissues, particularly in the liver.

This storage can lead to an accumulation of vitamin A, which can result in toxicity if the intake is excessively high over a period of time.

This buildup can be responsible for long-term side effects like gastrointestinal issues and enlarged liver or spleen.

Finally, vision changes associated with long-term Accutane use are another concerning long-term side effect.

One possible explanation for vision changes is the effect of Accutane on the meibomian glands, which line the inner portion of the eyelids and play an important role in keeping the eyes hydrated and healthy by secreting oil to stabilize the tear film.

However, when Accutane suppresses their function, the oil layer in the tear is inadequate, allowing excessive tear evaporation, leading to dry eyes, discomfort, and visual disturbances.

This disruption can sometimes persist even after the Accutane treatment, leading to long-term issues with eye dryness and associated vision problems.

Now, it’s important to note that these side effects are relatively rare and most users do not experience long-term consequences from Accutane usage.

However, they are still a possibility, especially in those with predisposed medical conditions, such as liver or vision problems, and in those who take high doses of Accutane for a prolonged period.

This is why potential long-term side effects should be thoroughly considered and communicated with a health professional before starting treatment.

Are Accutane Side Effects Permanent?

While most side effects resolve after the treatment is completed, changes in skin type and texture may become permanent for some Accutane users.

Similarly, but in even rarer cases, some individuals may develop long-term vision or gastrointestinal issues from Accutane use.

However, the permanence of Accutane side effects varies among individuals and cannot be predicted accurately.

These prolonged effects are believed to be due to lasting changes in the skin’s oil glands and the body’s storage of the fat-soluble vitamin A component of Accutane.

This only tells us that we are all different; therefore, our bodies react to treatment differently.

With that said, and while permanent side effects of Accutane are relatively rare, it’s always best to take your medical history and any predisposed conditions into consideration before starting treatment.

Disclaiming your medical history may give your health provider some insight into potential complications and may cause them to change your treatment plan accordingly so that you can achieve the desired results without major or potentially permanent discomforts.

The Best Ways to Reduce Accutane Side Effects

The Best Skincare Routine During Accutane Treatment

Here are the best ways to relieve Accutane side effects and make your treatment as comfortable as possible.

Skincare Routine:

Cleanse with a Gentle Cleanser: Opt for mild, fragrance-free cleansers that won’t further strip your skin and exacerbate dryness, irritation, and sensitivities.

Hydrate with a Toner or Serum: After cleansing, using a hydrating toner or serum can replenish moisture and prepare the skin for further hydration steps.

Apply a Nourishing Moisturizer: Choose moisturizers rich in components like ceramides, panthenol, allantoin, squalane, and niacinamide, which help lock in moisture and strengthen the skin barrier.


Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Foods high in antioxidants, like berries, nuts, and green leafy vegetables, can help counteract oxidative stress, supporting skin health during Accutane treatment.

Avoid Foods That Contain a Lot of Vitamin A: Limiting additional vitamin A intake is important as Accutane itself is a form of this vitamin, and excess can lead to toxicity.

Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s, found in foods like fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are beneficial for their anti-inflammatory properties and can help manage dry skin, one of the common side effects of Accutane.

Lifestyle Habits:

Avoid Overexposure to Sunshine: Protect your skin by wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen and protective clothing. This is crucial as Accutane can increase sun sensitivity, leading to faster burning and long-term skin damage.

Avoid Drinking Alcohol: Since Accutane can strain the liver, avoiding alcohol during your treatment can help prevent potential liver damage and enhance the overall effectiveness and safety of the medication.

Include Supplements: Taking supplements like vitamin E, omega-3s, and probiotics can help support skin and gut health during Accutane treatment.

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