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Dermatology. 1997;195 Suppl 1:22-8; discussion 38-40.

How safe is oral isotretinoin?

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Department of Dermatology, Allgemeines Krankenhaus St. Georg, Hamburg, Germany.


Since oral isotretinoin (Roaccutane/Accutane) is the only therapy to address all major acne causes, it remains the most effective antiacne therapy available. Due to this unique efficacy and its potential side effects that are predictable and can be managed easily and effectively, it is widely used also in acne patients suffering from serious systemic diseases. As the primary mechanism of action of oral isotretinoin is suppression of sebaceous gland activity, mucocutaneous side effects such as dry lips, nasal passages and eyes are predictable. Pretreatment counseling and concomitant use of moisturizing agents usually manage these side effects effectively; in unusual cases of particularly poor tolerability, dose adjustments suffice. Severe side effects are rare, the most common being aches and pains requiring no therapy, aspirin or paracetamol. As with other retinoids, reliable contraception is mandatory for women of childbearing potential. Acne patients with serious concomitant systemic disease, such as insulin-dependent diabetes, epilepsy or spina bifida, transplant patients, patients with renal failure, multiple sclerosis motor neuron disease and other can also safe be treated with a standard cumulative dose of 120 mg/kg per treatment course.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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