Oral Retinoid
2786 Reviews
Oral Retinoid
Based on All Available Studies
Strength of Evidence
Note: Use with EXTREME CAUTION: Causes severe birth defects and fetal death.
Oral Retinoid
Side Effects
Oral Retinoid
Acne.org’s Real World Take
The nuclear option. It works reliably and provides long-term remission of acne, and even severe acne, in about ⅔ of people who properly take an adequate dosage. However, it permanently and irreversibly changes the skin and the body forever and users may experience long-term side effects for the rest of their lives. It’ll nuke it, but there is no going back.
Oral Retinoid
How to Get It
Have a dermatologist? Make an appointment to get this medication. Don't have a dermatologist? See The American Academy of Dermatology Physician Database to find one.
Read All About Isotretinoin (Accutane®)
Compare To Other Treatments

Used Isotretinoin (Accutane®)? Rate It:

Choose from 1 to 5 stars
September 11, 2019
Yes, it cured my acne ,HOWEVER..

I was on accutane for 2 months when I was supposed to be on it for five - totally stopped cause the pills rose my liver levels and I got scared, nonetheless, it cured my awful, thick, painful cystic acne. Heres photos along with a details on my journey 


Don't have insurance? You're screwed. ESPECIALLY if you're a female. Let me explain:

Woman, once a month we must have blood tests done. Before you can get the pills, you must have a blood test. Each blood test (at QUEST) is $580 without insurance, the pills themselves range in price depending on the pharmacy, I picked mine up at COSTCO and paid $450 for them. Now, both the$450 and $580 are needed once a month. Its very, very costly.

As for Accutane itself, the process is insane and VERY much full of headaches. You CANNOT get the pill right then in there, you cant get them next week, in the next two weeks and so on. You must take a very stupid online assessment, pray to a god that your doctor did the steps right in calling Accutane and adding you into the system (otherwise, you would need to wait 2 months to get the meds) and after a month, if everything is done well and you visit your doc ON THE EXACT date planned, you can get the meds. Do no travel if you are on accutane. If you miss an appointment, they will need to reschedule everything and you could have to wait 2 months for the meds.

Everything with accutane is a damn process, a long, expensive one, due to law suits or something.

Ive had appointments on a monday, rescheduled for a friday and was told accutane removed me from the system therefore i had to take a blood test on a specific date, wait certain days, take another blood test, wait a few days, go to the doctor, after 30 days go to the doctor again and if, again, the doctor did everything well on their part (ive been to several and many times they could add your name wrong ((slight mispell can affect everything)) your birth date wrong, etc - youre screwed and gotta wait another 30 days) i could then get the prescription. 

June 29, 2019
clear skin for about a year


When I was 14 years old (slightly over a year ago) I was prescribed a six month course of isotretinoin by my dermo. It worked great while on it but I had EXTREME back pain to the point that I went to my General Practitioner to check if I had scoliosis. My Dermatologist was hesitant to prescribe so it took me about a year and a half to even start. Now a year later my acne is back and still considered moderate but VERY stubborn and nothing seems to work, so in my case I had clear skin for about a year and now my skin is horrid and my Dermo told me that my 'standards are just too high." I don't think it was worth the back pain and chapped lips. 

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July 16, 2019

I went through the exact same issue. Had clear skin also for about a year after using  oratane (isotretinoin) for 6-8months. It's back now so I hope this skin regimen on acne.org can help me

November 8, 2019

How long did it take for you to be clear.  I'm end of Month 5 and still getting small breakouts.  I will say parts of my face haven't broke out in a month, but still quite a few on nose, and side of nose.  

June 20, 2018
Isotretinoin (Accutane) Experience
Honest Review of Isotretinoin: I suffered with cystic acne throughout middle school / high school, during which I had been taking many different types of antibiotics and topical creams. I found that the antibiotics (or Tetracyclines) never seemed to defeat my stubborn / persistent acne, so my dermatologist finally gave me permission to take Accutane. I started taking Accutane in my junior year of high school, initially starting at 40mg and slowly moving up to 60mg. I went through 2 weeks of initial breakouts, but the improvements became noticeable within the first 2 months. In fact it completely cleared up my cystic acne and black heads around 3 months! I stayed on the medication for 6 months until my skin was 100% clear, and at that point I felt like I defeated the long battle with my acne. However fast forward to my first year of university, my acne unfortunately came back :( I knew instantly that my skin was acting abnormal, so within a couple months of struggling with acne cream and store bought acne treatments, I decided to go back on Accutane. ROUND TWO. During the second treatment I didn't notice the same improvements - my skin did not respond the same way it did to my first round. All it did was dry me out and lessen the severity of my breakouts by a small amount. I stayed on the medication for 4 months and never ended the treatment with clear skin. I am currently 19 years old and my skin is a lot different than it was when I was first prescribed Accutane. My biggest struggle today is small bumpy white heads along my jaw / lower cheek and chin. I'm currently beginning my journey with spironolactone in hopes that I'll never have to take a oral drug for acne again. SUMMARY: - Accutane works great for cystic acne (completely got rid of mine, but now I struggle with a different type of acne). - Accutane is NOT 100% effective. - Accutane is not guaranteed to provide lasting results (mine only lasted 1 year). - Accutane is a short term solution to manage an internal / hormonal issue (digestive, air quality, sex hormones, allergies). Go see a doctor to understand the root cause of your acne!!! Side Effects: dryness (mainly lips and nose) Treatment Length: 1st round: 6 months. 2nd round: 4 months. Initial Breakout: yes. Products Used While On Accutane: - Cetaphil moisturizer - Cetaphil cleanser - Dr Jart+ cicapair cream - Vaseline (lips)' - All natural cold pressed oils (jojoba, sea buckthorn, avocado oil) - used in alternation and in moderation. - AHA skin exfoliator
March 29, 2018
Helped for Awhile
So I don't know if my review is going to help, for I was on Accutane 20 years ago. However, maybe it will help some people who are currently starting out on Accutane or are in treatment. Some background: I had suffered with acne since the age of 14, but acne got progressively worse in my 20's. I found out much later down the road it was hormonal acne. I tried so many treatments, from otc products to prescription-strength medications and finally got fed-up at the age of 25. The Accutane rules were a bit different back then - not quite as strict. For women, you still had to take a pregnancy test, but only once a month as opposed to two (I know this because I almost went on it again but bailed out at the last minute). You still had to be on two forms of birth control and get monthly blood work (I think it was for liver testing?). I don't recall having to go through such a strict clearance to pick up a prescription every month, but my memory could be off. Anyway, the first month or so, my acne did get worse before it got better. My skin got very dry and my lips were ridiculously chapped and dry, to the point where they were cracked, bleeding, and peeling. People even asked what was wrong with my lips. No amount of lip balm seemed to help. To this day, 20 years later, I have perpetually dry lips. Luckily, lip products have come a long way since then and they now have a lot of great overnight lip masks that you can use (thank you Sephora!). But regular Aquaphor works very well. My vision also became very blurry and I remember my eyes being dry. I can't recall any other side effects off the top of my head. But after awhile, I began to see amazing progress. By the end of the treatment, my skin was beautiful and clear. Not a pimple to be found anywhere! My skin stayed clear for three wonderful years. And then gradually returned. I was so disappointed. As I mentioned earlier, I never did do a second round of Accutane. It was around the time that I wanted to have kids and I was too scared to. And when I tried a new dermatologist, she did not recommend it and put me on another regimen instead. I really, truly, hope it works for you long-term. I will never forget those three years of beautiful skin. It was worth the side effects to experience that. It changed my skin texture, cleared up the marks on my face, everything. It was truly life-changing for me. I hope it is for you too!
December 23, 2017
Definitely worked but with side effects.
I started isotretinon when my whole face, especially cheeks were full of very painful, large cystic acne. I noticed difference in 30 days itself. And in the next 20 days, I had only small pimples that would last 3-4 days and then go away. I did not use it more than 50 days. Reason: it damaged my liver. It increased my ALT/AST levels by almost 8-10 times the normal. Before I got the liver function test done, I was going through a horrible condition. I would sleep almost 14 hours a day, and yet I felt tired and struggled to stay awake in the remaining hours. I had started dreaming excessively, could barely concentrate while studying and felt depressed too. I was able to make the connection when I stopped the pills and within 4-5 days I felt very active, would sleep 7-8 hours, and felt lighter and happier. These pills are no joke. They work, but if you must use them, then educate yourself about the side effects and ask your doctor how you can minimise the side effects. I do not think there has been any long term side effect for me (my liver test came normal after a month of quitting the pills).
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April 29, 2018
Did you take it with fatty foods? or drink alcohol while taking it? Were you on other medications? Did you drink enough water while on it? Do you have a family history of liver or kidney problems?
November 20, 2017
Perfect, temporary
My acne came back after 2 years of perfect clear skin , disappointed , and it also made my hair thinnerrrrr
September 3, 2017
Acne comes back and it has side effects, but you have to keep trying
I had persistent mild acne all over my face, back and chest since I was 12, but when I turned 15 all the tiny pimples disappeared and instead I developed huge cystic pimples exclusively on my cheeks. My doctor prescribed me accutane right away. I started with 20 mg, and swtiched to 30 mg after the first box, that lasted about four months. I experienced light skin and lip dryness, but they would go easily away with moisurizing products. One worrying side effect I had was nose bleeding, which I experienced daily, but I've always been prone to that. I stopped for two months because summer came and the sun was dangerous for my skin while I was on those pills. In september I started treatment again for almost 6 months, again with 30 mg. When I finished the treatment the dryness took almost three months to disappear, but as soon as it did the acne came back, although not cystic but persistent light acne. After 6 months I've started the treatment again, but by now I'm experiencing light hair loss and hairline receding, which I have never noticed before. It is barely noticeable unless you look verly closely, but I'm a little freaked out because of fear of going bald, but I think if I stick to low doses over large periods of time I can minimize it and regrow hair once i finish. Overall I think it's still worth it.
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November 15, 2017
It will grow bsck once accutain is out of your system
August 28, 2017
Mixed feelings
Don't get me wrong, when I tried this 5 years it worked wonders, it was my fault for stopping a bit early and not going back as advised. I couldn't cope with my mood swings at the time. Looking back I regret it. I now have acne a lot worse and only after 10 weeks after starting accutane again I'm not seeing any improvement, dry lips again and the last 24hrs I've had a some scary heart palpitations, it's obviously due to the pills and is accompanied with a very slight niggling headache. I'm gonna see how it goes but I fear I may not get the chance to really give this a second chance. This medication worked last time and I hope it works again, however it would have been unrealistic to give it 5 stars as the dry lips is pure hell and heart palpitations is not good for anyone's standards. Anyone else had this problem?
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November 15, 2017
Dry lips is normal. Drink a gallon a day it will help with all your problems, accutain turns your body into a desert and if you're not drinking enough side effects get worse.
July 15, 2017
Accutain 60 mg (male)
Over 2k good results on here. Less then 500 ppl had some kind of issue. Overall would say give it go if it's really needed. I'm starting 60 mg tomorrow for 5-6 months. I'm a male 140lb 5"11. Never had severe acne but had mild persistent acne with occasional cyst face and back for over 13 years after spending thousands of dollars on products and facials and living a very healthy life style finally said enough and gonna give accutain a try. Will post my progress as time goes on. Will give it 3 stars for bec I'm really scared about touching this stuff. But will update rating at the end.
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July 17, 2017
by Solomon92 on 07/17/2017 22:41 Update: decided to start slow the first week been taking 30 mg in the morning for the past 2 days. This morning woke up with mild chap lips but nothing to crazy. Face is still greasy as hell. Planing on upping my dose next week too 3× a week 60 mg. Will update next week on how things are going.
July 26, 2017
Week 2 mild chap lips and dry (peeling) skin on the t zone rest of face still oily
November 15, 2017
It's been while since I updated. I'm on the end of month 4. So far so good, no breakouts. Side effects: dry lips, occasional nose bleed and minor hair shedding.
November 15, 2017
It's been while since I updated. I'm on the end of month 4. So far so good, no breakouts. Side effects: dry lips, occasional nose bleed and minor hair shedding.
January 23, 2018
Just want to leave off that i just finished my course. And went amazing!
April 18, 2017
2 months in.......
Male. 6'1". 155lbs or 70kg. 18 years old. 1st month: 40 mg side effects: dryness, minor lower back pain, a little bit of stomach problems, tiredness. 2nd month: 80 mg side effects: dryness, bearable back pain, tiredness, unmotivated (not too extreme), dream like feeling. i am familiar with this dream like feeling because of my anxiety. but it has gotten abit worse because my anxiety towards the medication is high. I have had anxiety for around 7 years. one of my biggest fears i always worry about is going insane (crazy). and i noticed one of the possible side effects were psychosis. so i'm constantly worrying (every day all day) about what if i'm going crazy. i've had these what if i'm going crazy thoughts for years, but it has gotten worse bacuase of the possible side effect of accutane. to the point where i get stressed and feel mentally drained or ruins my day. how possible is psychosis on accutane? is my dose too high? other than that i feel okay, the side effects are bearable.
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Finding a Doctor

The right dermatologist can make a big difference to your patient experience and the success of your acne treatment plan. Here are the steps to find a dermatologist who is a good fit:

  1. Use the search feature on the American Academy of Dermatology website to look for board-certified dermatologists in your area, and filter the search results for doctors with a special interest in treating acne.
  2. Read online patient reviews of any dermatologists you are considering and ask people you know whether they have any experience with these dermatologists.
  3. Do your research and go to your first appointment with questions prepared.
  4. Listen to what your gut feeling tells you once you see a dermatologist in person. If you are not completely comfortable, try a different dermatologist.

Finding a Doctor

Only a select few plastic surgeons specialize in acne scar revision surgery. Be certain to find a provider who specializes in acne scar repair and who is passionate and experienced in this area.

Be sure to:

  • Look at before and after photos, the more the better, especially patients with similar scarring to your own.
  • Be realistic about results. Look for improvement, not a cure.

Questions to ask a potential scar revision specialist:

  • Are you board certified? Be certain that they are board certified.
  • How long have you been performing these procedures? Normally, the more experience the better, however, some younger surgeons may be more on top of the latest procedures.
  • Can I speak to some of your other patients? Ask for references for several patients who had similar scarring and speak to them about the process and their satisfaction with results.

Red flags:

  • Their story changes: As you discuss different treatment options, if they tend to change their mind easily, or agree with whatever you say, consider this a red flag. A confident, experienced surgeon will possess strong, unwavering opinions.
  • Your gut tells you "no": Trust your gut. If you just don't feel that the doctor is the right fit, trust that and move on. On the other hand, if you feel they are the perfect specialist for you, trust that feeling.