Accutane has been prescribed to treat acne in the United States since the early 1980s. The medication can bring acne relief to people who weren’t helped by other acne treatments.
However, Accutane is known to have a number of side effects, including dry skin. This common Accutane side effect is also a common trigger for people with eczema.
We’ll explore more about the connection between Accutane and eczema and how to soothe any side effects.
Accutane is a prescription medication. It’s used to treat severe acne that’s painful and difficult to treat. If you have this type of acne, you might have large cysts or nodules on your skin.
People are often prescribed Accutane after multiple over-the-counter and prescription facial cleansers, lotions, and medications haven’t been effective.
The generic name for Accutane is isotretinoin. Other brand names include:
Accutane is a very strong medication that can cause a variety of side effects. One common side effect is dry skin. This can lead to skin irritation and rashes. These rashes can be severe and might resemble the rashes common with eczema.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition. The rashes are caused by inflammation and swelling in your skin cells, usually triggered by environmental factors.
Most people who have eczema will manage it throughout their lives, although some people only have it during childhood.
Accutane won’t cause eczema. However, the medication is very drying, and anything that dries your skin can be a trigger for eczema outbreaks. This means it’s very easy for Accutane to trigger eczema outbreaks.
Accutane is the right choice for some people with both severe acne and eczema, but it’s not always a good idea.
Only you and your dermatologist can decide if Accutane is a good treatment in your case. They’ll need to determine the severity of both your eczema and your acne.
Accutane is more likely to be considered safer for people with well-controlled eczema than it is for people with severe eczema or frequent flare-ups.
If you’re prescribed Accutane, you might start on a very small dose to make sure it doesn’t trigger your eczema. It’s also important to be extra careful in keeping your skin well moisturized.
Using gentle skin care products, such as facial cleansers and moisturizers, is also a good idea while taking Accutane.
Tips for coping with eczema and acne
It can be frustrating to manage two skin concerns at once. That frustration can lead to stress, which can make both conditions harder to manage.
Fortunately, there are several ways to cope with both:
- Stay moisturized. Taking the time to find a gentle and noncomedogenic moisturizer that doesn’t clog your pores can go a long way toward managing your eczema and your acne.
- Try gentle cleansers. Cleansers designed to fight acne can dry out your skin. This might cause a quick clear-up, but it can cause eczema flare-ups and make your acne come back worse later. Instead, look for gentle cleansers made for sensitive skin.
- Try natural ingredients. Some people claim to have found success managing their acne and eczema with natural remedies, such as:
- Protect your skin in the sun. Sun exposure can dry out your skin and lead to eczema flare-ups and acne. Sunscreen, long sleeves, hats, and other protection can help keep your skin healthy.
- Find ways to reduce stress. Meditation, yoga, and other stress-reducing methods can also help fight acne and eczema.
- Make a dermatologist appointment. A dermatologist can help you manage eczema and acne. You can find dermatologists in your area here.
There are several side effects of Accutane. Common side effects include:
- dry skin
- itchy skin
- dry mouth
- dry eyes
- joint pain
- changes to your nails
Let your doctor know about any of these side effects. They might reduce your dose or help you manage the side effects.
There are also some more severe and very rare side effects of Accutane to be aware of, including:
- vision problems
- hearing problems
- pressure in your head
- increased thirst
- severe headaches
- frequent urination
- racing heartbeat
- loss of appetite
- severe stomach pain
- chest pain
- pain when you swallow
Doctors carefully monitor patients on a monthly basis in order to prevent these rare severe side effects before they can even occur.
It’s important to stop taking Accutane right away if you notice any of these symptoms. Contact your doctor to decide what steps to take next.
Accutane also carries a high risk of serious birth defects. Anyone prescribed Accutane needs to take caution not to become pregnant while using the medication.
A program called iPLEDGE spells out the requirements patients need to agree to before being prescribed Accutane.
When to seek dermatologic care
Some skin concerns can be managed at home with lotions and cleansers. However, if your eczema, acne, or any other condition isn’t responding to those treatments, it might be time to see a dermatologist.
Consider making an appointment if:
- you’ve tried multiple cleansers and creams that haven’t helped
- your skin stopped responding to products that used to help
- you’ve noticed changes to your skin in the past few months
- your skin is painful, red, or swollen
- you have a rash that’s lasted for longer than 1 to 2 weeks
- your skin is breaking out due to a new medication
Accutane is a prescription medication that helps treat severe acne. It can help clear up painful cystic acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments.
However, it can also cause multiple side effects. A primary side effect of Accutane is dry skin.
People who are managing eczema need to take care to avoid dry skin, as it can trigger eczema outbreaks. This means Accutane isn’t always a good choice for people with eczema.
Discuss all of your skin concerns with a dermatologist to find out if Accutane is best for you.