Isotretinoin - oral

Patient Medicine Information
Why do I need this medicine?
Isotretinoin is used to treat severe forms of acne (pimple). It is given to those who have failed previous therapy such as antibiotics or topical treatments.
How do I take this medicine?
Take Isotretinoin exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist about whether you should take this medicine with or without food. Different brands of this medicine may be taken differently.

Swallow the capsule whole with a glass of water.

Try to take it at the same time each day.

The dose of this medicine will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the treatment timeframe depending on the type and severity of your condition.

Isotretinoin must be taken regularly for it to be effective. Continue taking this medicine even when you feel better. Do not stop taking it unless instructed by the doctor.
What should I do if I have forgotten to take this medicine?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule.

DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.

If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
When should I not use this medicine?
Alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
  • hypervitaminosis A (very high level of vitamin A in your body)
  • excessively high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (fats) in the blood
  • liver disease
as Isotretinoin may not be suitable for you.

Do not take this medicine if you are pregnant or planning to have a baby soon. If you become pregnant while being treated with this medicine, alert your doctor immediately. Isotretinoin may cause harm to your unborn child. You must use proven birth control methods 1 month before starting, during the entire treatment, and for 1 month after stopping this medicine.

Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with this medicine.

Do not take Isotretinoin with tetracycline antibiotics or products containing vitamin A.
What should I take note of while taking this medicine?
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
  • dry eyes
  • diabetes
  • present condition of or risk factors for hypertriglyceridaemia (high levels of fat in the blood) e.g. obesity
  • history of depression or other mental illness
  • bone loss or bone metabolism disorder e.g. history of osteoporosis (thinning and weakening of bones) during childhood, osteomalacia (softening of the bones)
  • anorexia nervosa (loss of appetite)
  • severe renal disease
Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist when giving Isotretinoin to a child. Children may be more sensitive to the side effects.

This medicine is not indicated for the treatment of prepubertal acne (pimples before puberty period).

Do not switch brands unless instructed by your doctor. This is because different brands of Isotretinoin may have slightly different ways of working in your body.

Notify your doctor if you consume large amounts of alcohol or if you are a frequent drinker.

Your skin may be more delicate while you are taking Isotretinoin. Avoid waxing (hair removal) or skin resurfacing procedures (e.g. dermabrasion, laser treatment) during and for at least 6 months after treatment.

Do not donate blood while taking this medicine and for 1 month after treatment as this medicine may cause harm to the baby if a pregnant patient receives your blood.

Your acne may worsen during the first weeks of treatment. This is expected, your acne will eventually improve as treatment goes on.

Do not share or give this medicine to anyone else.

Why is it important to keep my appointments with the doctor?

Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
  • Routine pregnancy tests will be done before, during, and after treatment to know if this medicine is suited for you to take.
  • Routine tests (e.g. liver function, blood cholesterol and sugar, complete blood count) may be done while you are being treated with this medicine.
  • Regular monitoring of signs of depression, skin reactions, and changes in vision may also be needed.
Your doctor will advise you about how often you need to have these tests.
What side effects could I experience?
You may experience some problems with your eyesight, such as decreased ability to see at night. Always keep your doctor updated on any changes in your eyesight. If affected, be cautious when driving and during any activity in which you need to see clearly.

Isotretinoin may also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and wear protective clothing when going outdoors and avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight and UV lamps.

Other side effects include any of the following: headache, dry skin, eyes, lips and inside of the nose, eye irritation, back pain, muscle pain, joint pain, fragile skin, mild nosebleeds, decreased tolerance to contact lenses, and ringing in the ears.

Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
  • rashes with peeling of the skin or blistering of the lips, mouth or eyes accompanied by fever
  • having thoughts of self-harm
  • unusual changes in mood or behaviour (being too depressed, agitated, or aggressive)
  • severe stomach pain, swelling of the stomach, nausea and vomiting, fever
  • muscle weakness, trouble moving arms or legs, dark-coloured urine
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes, abdominal pain, tiredness, swelling in the legs and ankles
  • frequent or persistent sore throat with fever
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Can I take this with other medicines?
Do not take Isotretinoin with the following medicines:
  • certain antibiotics e.g. tetracycline, doxycycline
  • vitamin A or products containing vitamin A
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Isotretinoin.

Avoid concomitant use with topical keratolytic or exfoliative anti-acne agents.

Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or using any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Avoid alcohol.

Avoid taking foods that are rich in vitamin A such as beef liver and cod liver oil.
How should I store this medicine?
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.

Protect from light.

Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
This information is independently developed by MIMS based on isotretinoin - oral and is provided for your reference only. It is not a replacement for and should only be used in conjunction with full consultation with a licensed healthcare professional, the information provided by your pharmacist and/or the manufacturer of the medication. It may not contain all the available information you require and cannot substitute professional medical care, nor does it take into account all individual circumstances. Although great effort has been made to ensure content accuracy, we shall not be held responsible or liable for any claims or damages arising from the use or misuse of the information contained herein, its contents or omissions, or otherwise. Copyright © 2024 MIMS. All rights reserved. Powered by
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