Isotretinoin is another retinoid, or form of Vitamin A, that has uses against acne. Isotretinoin is the generic name of the product Accutane. Unlike most other retinoids, isotretinoin is a capsule that is taken internally. Isotretinoin has a large number of reported side effects serious enough that it should not be used to treat any but the worst, most persistent, outbreaks of acne.

What does isotretinoin do?

Isotretinoin has the following properties:

Stimulates cellular replication and differentiation - isotretinoin encourages the cells of the skin to divide and function in a normal, healthy manner.

Antioxidant - isotretinoin, like all types of Vitamin A, can be used as an antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals and the damage done by free radicals to the molecules of the body.

Exfoliant - isotretinoin encourages the skin to slough off excess cells, thus preventing these cells from forming blockages that lead to pimples.

Side effects of isotretinoin

Isotretinoin has a number of side effects, some of them life-threatening (fortunately, these serious side effects are relatively rare).

The more common and minor side effects include: dry skin and lips, fragile skin, increased sensitivity to the sun, peeling skin on the hands and feet, dry eyes, nosebleeds, bleeding gums and decreased night vision.

The serious side effects of isotretinoin include: depression, suicidal thoughts and in some cases suicide. These serious effects may not stop even if you quit taking isotretinoin.

In addition, a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant should never take isotretinoin. The effects of this retinoid on fetuses is terrifying - so much so that pregnancy tests are usually given before prescribing any form of isotretinoin, and the manufacturer recommends two forms of birth control to be used at all time while taking this drug.

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Is isotretinoin an effective anti acne ingredient?

Yes. But considering isotretinoin's long list of potential side effects, and the extremity of these side effects, isotretinoin should not be used except as an absolute last resort. Topical retinoids, like retinol and Retin-A, do not carry this catalogue of dangers and risks. Tretinoin is a very serious anti acne weapon that should only be used cautiously, and only when absolutely necessary.

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