Acne lesions commonly appear on the face, but also have the tendency to erupt on your back, shoulders or the rest of the body. The Mayo Clinic reports that though acne does not cause serious medical complications, it can lead to scarring of the skin and self-esteem issues, particularly in teenagers who are more prone to breakouts. A number of topical and oral medications are available to treat acne, including the prescription drug isotretinoin, which is sold in the United Kingdom under the brand name Isotrex. Despite its effectiveness, Isotrex is not for everyone, as it presents several risks for side effects and complications in some patients.
Common Side Effects
The most common side effects of Isotrex are not normally serious in nature and pose little discomfort. Many patients who use Isotrex experience stinging, burning, redness and irritation at the site of application. Patients also frequently report an increased sensitivity to sunlight while using Isotrex. Also, many patients report peeling of the skin while using the gel.
Other Side Effects
Isotrex also has the potential to cause a number of other troublesome or annoying side effects. These effects occur rarely and pose little potential for serious health complications. Neurological and psychological side effects of the drug include depression, dizziness, drowsiness, moodiness, fatigue, headache, insomnia, nervousness and tingling in the extremities. Some patients experience gastrointestinal side effects, such as bleeding or inflammation of the gums and nausea. Rare dermatological side effects of Isotrex include temporary hair loss, easy bruising, dryness, skin rash and increased sweating.
There are some medications and substances which produce unwanted side effects when used in conjunction with Isotrex. Astringents and skin cleansers that are abrasive or contain alcohol often increase dryness of the skin while using the drug. Taking Vitamin A supplements while undergoing treatment with Isotrex, increases your risk of developing side effects from the drug. The antibiotics Tetracycline and Minocycline cause increased pressure in the skull known as pseudomotor cerebri when used with Isotrex in rare instances.
In addition to minor side effects and the risk of interactions, Isotrex has the potential to cause serious medical complications. Serious cardiovascular side effects of Isotrex include stroke, increased heart rate and the formation of blood clots. Some patients exhibit psychosis or suicidal thoughts while taking Isotrex, and the drug also causes seizures in rare instances. Using Isotrex infrequently causes wounds to heal more slowly and makes patients more susceptible to serious skin infections. Other rare risks associated with Isotrex include cataracts, night blindness and stomach ulcers.
Isotrex can cause damage to the developing fetus and is avoided during pregnancy. If you have eczema or a family history of skin cancer, your doctor will most likely not prescribe Isotrex for you. While taking the drug, you should avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight or tanning beds and should use sunscreen whenever possible. If you become sunburned while using Isotrex, you should discontinue use until you heal to avoid potential side effects.