Isotretinoin (By mouth)


Isotretinoin (eye-soe-TRET-i-noin)

Treats severe acne.

Brand Name(s)

Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan, Zenatane

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

How to Use This Medicine

Liquid Filled Capsule

  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you. Your skin problems may get worse for a short time before they start to improve.
  • Take Absorica? capsules with or without food. Other forms of isotretinoin, such as Accutane®, should be taken with food.
  • Swallow the capsule whole with a full glass (8 ounces) of water or other liquid. Do not crush, break, or chew it.
  • Absorica? oral capsules should not be substituted with other forms of isotretinoin (such as Accutane®). Different brands may not work the same way. Check your medicine when you refill the prescription. If it looks different, talk to your pharmacist.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Ask your pharmacist for a copy if you do not have one.

If a dose is missed:

  • Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you also use tetracycline (Sumycin®), St John's wort, a vitamin A supplement, or a steroid medicine (such as dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisolone, prednisone, Medrol®). Tell your doctor if you also use phenytoin (Dilantin®).

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • You can harm your unborn baby if you use this medicine while you are pregnant. Use 2 forms of birth control together for 1 month before you start this medicine, during the entire time you use this medicine, and for 1 month after your last dose. Talk to your doctor if you use birth control pills. Some kinds of birth control pills may not work as well when you take this medicine. You must have a pregnancy test every month during treatment. Tell your doctor right away if you think you have become pregnant while you are using this medicine.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding or if you have liver disease, asthma, bowel or digestion problems, diabetes, vision or hearing problems, heart disease, pancreas problems (including pancreatitis), high cholesterol or fats in the blood, a history of anorexia, or bone problems such as osteoporosis. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has had depression or any kind of mental illness. Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol regularly.
  • This medicine can cause changes in your mood or behavior or increase thoughts of suicide. Tell your doctor right away if you start to feel more depressed and have thoughts about hurting yourself or others. Report any unusual thoughts or behaviors that trouble you, especially if they are new or getting worse quickly.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have a severe headache, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, or seizures. These may be symptoms of a serious brain problem.
  • Serious skin reactions can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loose skin, red skin lesions, a rash, sores or ulcers on the skin, or fever or chills while you use this medicine.
  • This medicine can cause problems with your digestive system. Tell your doctor right away if you have nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea or constipation, bleeding from your rectum, pale stools, dark urine, yellow eyes or skin, or lightheadedness.
  • This medicine may cause problems with your bones or muscles. You may get hurt more easily if you do hard physical activity. You may heal more slowly. If this medicine is for your child, tell the doctor if you think your child is not growing properly. Tell your doctor if you have any bone, muscle, or joint pain.
  • Do not donate blood while you use this medicine or for 1 month after your last dose.
  • This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Wear sunscreen. Do not use sunlamps or tanning beds.
  • This medicine may affect your hearing or vision. Check with your doctor right away if you have ringing or buzzing in your ears, loss of hearing, decreased vision at night, or any other problems with your hearing or vision. You may also have dry eyes or trouble wearing contacts. Use caution when you drive at night until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Do not use wax epilation to remove hair or have any cosmetic procedures to smooth your skin (such as dermabrasion, laser) while you take this medicine and for 6 months after you stop it. Isotretinoin can increase your chance of scarring from these procedures.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash
  • Bloody urine
  • Changes in vision or hearing
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools, loss of appetite, yellow skin or eyes
  • Feeling depressed or like you want to hurt yourself or others
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches
  • Seizures
  • Severe diarrhea, stomach pain, or bleeding from your rectum
  • Sudden and severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, lightheadedness
  • Sudden or severe headache, dizziness, faintness, problems with vision, speech, or walking
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Headache
  • Dry skin, eyes, lips, mouth, or nose
  • Heartburn (new or worsening), trouble swallowing or painful swallowing
  • Increase in thirst, change in how much or how often you urinate
  • Mild skin rash
  • Muscle, back, or joint pain or aching (more likely in children)
  • Trouble sleeping

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 8/4/2014

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