In all the years I’ve been researching acne, I’ve consistently read in most dermatology texts, “there is no cure for acne.” Until a few years ago, I echoed this prevailing wisdom in my writing for Acne.org. However, during my rewrite of Acne.org for our mobile-friendly web site–which is coming soon–I decided to start referring to Accutane (isotreinoin) as a “cure” more plainly in certain circumstances. This is not to say that I feel any differently than I ever have about Accutane. My personal opinion is that it is best left for more severe cases of acne, especially if one tends to scar.

Merriam-Webster defines cure as “a complete or permanent solution or remedy.” This is what Accutane provides for the majority of people who take it. Clinical research shows long-term remission of acne symptoms in approximately 2/3 of people who take an adequate dosage (1mg/kg). Therefore, I feel it is time for me to plainly use the word “cure” in certain circumstances when referring to Accutane, while at the same time noting that it cures most people, but not all people.

A still unanswered question?: I do not recall reading any studies on Accutane (isotretinoin) which follow up with participants past the five year mark, checking in on remission. If any of you have read a study like this, please contact me to let me know. If we do not have good data on this, then we cannot comment with complete certainty on long-term remission. However, anecdotally, based on years of input from Acne.org members, the effects of Accutane tend to be permanent.

A note on the permanency of Accutane: The permanency of Accutane is a reflection of the drug’s power, but also brings urgency to the need to consciously enter into a careful decision-making process alongside a trusted physician if you decide to pursue Accutane treatment.

14 Responses to “Accutane = Cure? In most cases, yes.”

  • Joseph

    Sorry to change the subject, but are you still working on that spot treatment Dan? I’m sure many of us are still interested!

  • Lauren

    Hi Dan,
    My name is Lauren and I am a 19 year old student athlete. When I was in high school I went through the intense process of acutane. After 6 months my skin was completely clear. It was great never had to worry about it. It wasn’t until about 2 years later that I began to get breakouts again. And right now I have my severe acne again :( But luckily I just received your regime tonight, so hopefully it clears it for good!
    My diet did change when I went to college. It consists mainly of fast food and sodas, great athletic diet right?…
    I would love to hear your thoughts on diet and acne! Thanks.

  • David Benjamin

    Accutane is dangerous, google it… it’s mini-doses of chemotherapy.
    I’d recommend a safer alternative.

    My mom took accutane and had health issues and my brother was born with a birth defect because of it.

    I’ve seen this firsthand,

  • Michelle

    My sister did a very intense treatment with Accutane and was monitored very closely by her doctor who did regular blood tests and watched closely for severe depression. It’s been 3+ years since her treatment and her skin is beautiful and clear. I tend to scar with my acne and being nearly forty I’d like to have the treatment done, but because I do suffer with depression, I am afraid it’ll get severe with Accutane.

  • Kinman

    I wouldn’t call Accutane a cure. I have chronic acne and have been on Accutane 4 times over the years. Each time, the acne eventually came back after the treatment finished. Accutane is more like a temporary workaround with huge side-effects. Avoid it if you can. These days, I control my acne with the acne.org regiment, the Tanda Clear+, and by limiting my diet. Diet is the big thing for me as I discovered that I have many food sensitivities which trigger my acne.

  • Aymee

    I’m from mexico and my english is very bad. I think that accutane is dangerous because it can cause liver damage. I can’t take accutane because my liver it’s not so well.

  • Paul Cox

    Accutane is very difficult to get in the UK. I visit the dermatology department in Oxford every 3 months for my skin and they are very reluctant to prescribe this, my GP can’t prescribe it. The Doctor at the dermatology department told me that due to the side effects mainly headaches and back pains and more (some I can’t pronounce) that they will only prescribe in the most severe cases.
    I also feel that controlling your diet does have a good effect on your acne, controlling what you eat is very good advice.

  • Jennifer

    In my country do not know accutane, so people who have acne usually only take preventive or treatment with routine care to beauty clinics or just clean up and wash your face regularly

  • Will

    Thank you for bringing your blog back! Would love to hear some updates on product testing and development and on the status of the company.

  • Jenny

    Great article! So Accutane is not for everyone? I do agree it may be helpful for those who are impatient and have very severe acne.

  • ilu

    Accutane gives temporary relief.Acne comes back a year or two after you stop using it.,especially for women as our acne is hormonal.Can a low dose isotroín 10mg be taken for 5-6years?just curious.or does such a low dose also produce side effects?

  • Patricia

    I’d also like to know more about that study. I’m interested in Accutane, but a little hesitant.

  • Maria

    For all those who have suffered with acne for years like I have please read on:
    I’ve had acne since I was a teenager and it just never went away. I always tried to cover it up with make up hats, and sunglasses, didn’t like my picture taken and sometimes would just not leave my house.
    I have felt so self conscious about my skin and the scars the acne left on my face. Then a friend put me on to this product about a month ago and it has changed my life. I never thought I would ever have smooth skin again, even after trying photo facials, proactive, skin peels etc.

    Here is the website I got it at:

    *link edited*
    The lady was so helpful and even followed up with me to see how the product was working for me. This company truly seems to care about their customers and even have a 30 day money back guarantee, so I felt very comfortable buying it and giving it shot.

    Best of luck to you all, this product changed my life.

    *link edited*

  • Aubrey

    I’ve used Accutane twice, so I wouldn’t call it a “cure” – it works magically when you are on it, my acne came back the first time after about 4-5 years (for those 4-5 years, I do believe I didn’t have any kind of flare up, or even a pimple) and the second time, only about 2 years (which again, in those 2 years I was also acne free) – the second time I got acne, I opted not to use Accutane again and luckily my skin cleared with Tazorac Cream.

    It’s such a shame too, because a. it’s expensive even with insurance b. it’s not the safest drug to take initially, but especially multiple times.

    As a side note, I’ve yet to try the acne.org products, but I am a little hesitant about the moisturizer that everyone is now complaining about making their skin look yellow, and/or too greasy and/or not being moisturizing enough. I’m curious what your feeling, Dan/Acne.org customer service is? I’m not trying to be rude, or aggressive, I’m honestly curious and should I purchase the products, I wouldn’t want that to happen.
    Thanks.

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