What it is
Isotretinoin, a derivative of Vitamin A, belongs to a group of substances called retinoids.
What it does
Isotretinoin is used to treat acne because of its ability to shrink sebaceous glands, thus stopping the production of oil. The oil can’t thus accumulate in, and clog, the pores anymore.
Isotretinoin should never be used by pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects in their babies.
Other, minor, side effects are dryness, pain, nausea, blurred vision, swelling, hair loss and itching. Plus, isotretinoin can also make skin more susceptible to sun damage.
(Sources: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, November 2001, Supplemental; and Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, May 2006, pages 467–468).
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