Do I need Accutane?

I’ll be 30 in October, and my skin is prone to deep, hormonal cystic pimples that I never used to get before. My skin was always acne-prone but easily treatable with a toner and some Persa-Gel. Now, I even get painful zits in my ear or under my chin–places where I NEVER had any sort of skin issues before. Do I need Accutane?

An Answer from a Derm:

You should talk to your doctor about a prescription drug treatment for acne, like Accutane, if you have any of the following:

  • Scarring from acne in the past
  • Painful bumps above or below the skin
  • Pimples that last for weeks or leave red marks behind
  • Acne that is getting worse and not better with treatment

If using topical solutions aren’t working, and you have severe acne or scarring, you’re a candidate. In my opinion, it is better to take Accutane to cure the condition rather than antibiotics or other treatments on-and-off that don’t work. Accutane offers a real cure, whereas antibiotics do not.

It does, however, come with a price: You have to follow the 5-month course, have blood work once a month, and beware of side affects. Although it’s derived from a naturally occurring ingredient, Vitamin A, some people aren’t comfortable with it. Things people worry most about are birth defects (patients are required to be on two forms of birth control), depression (patients are asked monthly about any mood changes or bouts of depression, increased cholesterol, and muscle and joint paint caused by a breakdown in bone or muscle tissue. In general, I feel comfortable prescribing it because I follow my patients very closely — they are required to come in for check-ups every month. It’s all about monitoring and knowing what to watch for.