About prescription acne treatments such as Accutane and Retin-A. Side effects of vitamin A derivatives.

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Acne Vitamins Guide


Prescription Acne Treatments

What are the benefits and risks of prescription acne treatments such as Accutane?


Prescription acne treatments may be the solution if nothing else works for your skin, but be sure you understand the possible side effects that go along with the benefits. These treatments are usually the most effective way to get clear skin, but there can be serious risks involved (Accutane has nearly been pulled off the market on multiple occasions), and the expensive costs don't make the decision any easier.


There are a variety of prescription acne treatments available, both in topical and oral forms. However, many of these treatments are also available over-the-counter in lower concentrations that work just as well for most people. Our focus here will be two of the most potent prescription acne treatments that are used generally in cases of severe acne affliction. These drugs are Tretinoin (the active ingredient in Retin-A) and Isotretinoin (Accutane). They are both derivatives of Vitamin A and are recognized as some of the most effective treatments on the market. Be aware that these drugs are not permanent acne cures. As with other acne treatments, the positive effects only last as long as you continue with your prescription.


A popular brand of Tretinoin treatment, Retin-A can be found in a variety of forms such as creams, gels, and liquid applications. These formulations may have different potencies, usually ranging from 0.025% to 0.1%. Retin-A works by directly effecting the regulation of your oil glands (by contrast, vitamin B5 affects the metabolism of skin oil, not the production of oil in the first place). By reducing oil production, Retin-A can prevent clogged pores and acne. Tretinoin also has added benefit of enhancing the texture of your skin by stimulating the formulation of collagen in skin cells. This treatment can aid in exfoliation and the dispersion of melanin (repairing skin discoloration, although it may cause discoloration temporarily).


While results may be more dramatic than with typical acne treatments, it can still take a few months before such improvement is seen. Unfortunately, when you directly affect the action of your pores the side effects can also be more serious, such as severe dry skin, blistered skin, puffiness and peeling. Those with sensitive skin are more likely to experience side effects, and these can diminish the benefits of the drug. Users should exercise caution with sun exposure, other facial applications, and especially other antibiotics (see your doctor about complications with other medications). Do not use Retin-A if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.


Accutane (Isotretinoin) is probably the most talked about prescription acne treatment today. The risks involved, such as clinical depression and fatal birth defects, have been well documented. However, Accutane has also been shown to be the most potent acne treatment on the market, producing almost completely clear skin for 6 out of 10 users.


Accutane is a more potent form of the Tretinoin found in Retin-A, and effects your skin in much the same way. It works primarily by minimizing the activity of your oil glands, potentially shrinking your glands and pores. As with Vitamin B5, the reduction of oil has a powerful effect in eliminating acne.


The most potent acne treatment on the market also comes with the most serious side effects, and it's a long list. The most dangerous side effects are the serious birth defects and mental problems previously mentioned (Accutane has been considered as a contributing agent to suicide), but besides these there are other side effects including: dry and irritated skin, blistering, peeling, headaches, stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea, pain in joints and muscles, rectal bleeding, hair loss, and vision problems.


If you start to experience any of these side effects other than mild skin irritation, it is best to discontinue use immediately. As with Retin-A, consult your doctor before taking any other medications or even herbal treatments while using Accutane. If you are taking vitamins, make sure to avoid any additional intake of vitamin A, as this can increase your risk of side effects.


Vitamin B5 is an effective alternative to manufactured derivatives of vitamin A, and is much safer for your body. Do NOT try to supplement high doses of vitamin A in an attempt to get similar results to prescription treatments. Unlike B5, vitamin A is fat-soluble, and high doses can pose serious health risks. While vitamin A products attack your pores directly, vitamin B5 simply enables your body to eliminate the excess oil produced by your pores. This gives very similar results without the risk of adverse reactions from directly altering your pores or hormones. 



Acne Vitamins Guide
Part I (A & B-Complex)
Part II (C,E,K & Minerals)



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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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