Medication such as Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) can be a really effective way of treating acne. But if you’ve recently been prescribed it by your dermatologist, you may have some concerns about using it safely and managing the side effects. So to help you feel more confident and informed, we’ve created a simple guide that covers the basics – from the effect it will have on the skin, to the products to avoid using it with, and those that can provide comfort and protection.
The effect of isotretinoin on the skin
Isotretinoin, otherwise known as Roaccutane, is a skin treatment prescribed by dermatologists to treat severe forms of acne. According to the British Association of Dermatologists, Isotretinoin belongs to a group of drugs called retinoids, which are closely related to vitamin A. It works in a variety of ways, targeting different factors that cause acne including the production of sebum (an oily substance produced by the skin) and the production of keratin (outer scales of skin) that block the pores of the hair follicle.
While very effective, acne medication can have side effects and should be used with medical guidance. You may also find that as your blemishes and acne start to clear up, the skin is left feeling very dry and extra sensitive to the sun. Your lips may also feel very dry and chapped.
The products that should be avoided
As Isotretinoin is a retinoid, it should not be used with any other vitamin A or retinol products. Chemical peels, acids or physical exfoliants that resurface the skin should also be avoided as they will create further photo sensitivity, dryness and irritation.
The products that are safe to use
In many cases, Isotretinoin leaves the skin feeling very dry and extra sensitive, so the British Association of Dermatologists recommends using it alongside a non-comedogenic moisturiser that does not block the pores. Lip balm will also help to relieve chapping and a broad-spectrum sunscreen in a high SPF should be applied every morning as the treatment creates heightened photo-sensitivity.
Good skincare practices while taking acne medication
When using Isotretinoin, the rest of your skincare routine should be gentle, hydrating and fairly minimal. La Roche-Posay has a range of products that are ideal as they help to comfort, soothe and protect your skin while it goes through an important healing process.
Effaclar H is a multi-compensating soothing moisturiser that’s formulated with minimal ingredients and fragrance. It contains important lipids needed to help restore the skin’s protective barrier which can be damaged when using a medication such as Isotretinoin. Additionally Toleriane Ultra Cream is a moisturiser for ultra-sensitive, reactive and allergy-prone skin and is clinically proven to comfort and soothe sensitive skin. It’s also really effective at hydrating dry patches without leaving behind any oiliness.
As Isotretinoin makes the skin extra photo-sensitive and intolerant to the sun, a broad-spectrum sunscreen such as Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid SPF50+, is an essential. Not only does it provide exceptional protection against UVA, UVB and infared rays, but it is also ultra-lightweight and non-comedogenic – so it won’t block the pores and interfere with your acne treatment.
If you find that the delicate skin around your eyes becomes very dry, Hydraphase Hyaluronic Acid Eye Cream will provide instant comfort and hydration. This intensive eye cream contains hyaluronic acid (a powerful moisturising ingredient that infuses the skin with water) and is suitable for all skin types – including the most sensitive.
Finally, soothe dry lips with Cicaplast Lips. This soothing balm acts as a physical and biological barrier treatment to nourish the skin while preventing future chapping. Don’t forget to wash your hands before applying it to avoid introducing infection to the skin.