Alternatives to Accutane

Beauty treatment of young female face
A young woman receives laser treatment to her face at a dermatologist's office. (Image: simazoran/iStock/Getty Images)

The drug Accutane, or isotretinoin, treats severe cases of acne, especially cystic or nodular acne that create painful lesions on and under the skin. Other brands of isotretinoin are available by prescription such as Claravis, Amnesteem and Sotret. Despite the efficacy of the drug, many would rather suffer the acne than the serious side effects of Accutane such as birth defects and liver failure. Alternatives to Accutane are available provide substitutes to using this drug.

Topical Ointments

Rather than a systemic drug, or one that is transmitted throughout the bloodstream, topical options like antibiotic ointments, and gels such as clindamycin preparations, are successful alternatives to Accutane. A substitute closer to the chemical construction of Accutane is the retinoic creams, or those containing a form of retinol A. Retinol A, a derivative of vitamin A, has the same active ingredient in Accutane.

Oral Antibiotics

Some severe cases of acne cover more than the face; cystic acne can affect the chest, neck and back. In these instances, use of a cream or lotion may not be the more efficient alternative to Accutane. Dermatologists have used antibiotics, such as doxycycline or tetracycline, for years as a front-line severe acne treatment. The oral antibiotics fight acne by decreasing the bacteria count on the surface of the skin.

Dermatology Procedures

If oral or topical preparations are not an attractive option, there are cosmetic procedures to treat acne. MedlinePlus recognizes photodynamic therapy as one severe acne treatment option. This procedure uses lasers or pulsed light to treat the skin on the surface, similar to the effects of a little sun exposure. Dermatologists can complete glycolic acid peels and dermabrasion in their office which decrease the effects of acne.

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