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Accutane - The Big Controversy

Aug 17, 2007
What is Acne? a chronic disorder characterized by excess production of oil from sebaceous glands causing of the hair follicles to become plugged. Pimples, papules, pustules and comedone, (black heads and white heads) cysts, infected abscesses, and sometimes scarring are the lesions to be treated in acne.

Do you suffer from acne? You are not alone. Here are some stats:
Prevalance of Acne: 17 million Americans, almost 85% of people 12-24 years of age.
Prevalance Rate for Acne: approx 1 in 16 or 6.25% or 17 million people in USA

Controversy means a contentious dispute, a disagreement in opinions over which parties are actively arguing. Controversies can range from private disputes between two individuals to large-scale social upheavals. Controversies in mathematics and the sciences are generally eventually solved. It is the nature of controversies in the humanities that they cannot generally be conclusively settled and may be accompanied by the disruption of peace and even quarreling.

One of the most famous and controversial of all acne treatment therapies, Accutane (Isotretinoin) has long been seen as the stalwart of acne treatments. The 'last resort' acne drug of choice, Accutane continues to be a popular treatment option for acne sufferers who have tried everything else. The Hoffman-LaRoche pharmaceutical company, who first introduced the drug in the United States in 1982, manufactures Accutane. Dermatologists and other medical doctors frequently prescribe Accutane to individuals who suffer from moderate and severe forms of acne. Most commonly, Accutane is prescribed to patients who suffer from severe nodular acne. Most people who have been prescribed Accutane have tried other treatments such as topical agents and antibiotic therapies, to no avail.

The molecular structure of Accutane is similar to Vitamin A. And with good cause: Accutane is actually a Vitamin A analog, or retinoid. Most doses of Accutane range from 10mg to 40 mg doses.

The reason that Accutane is seen as the 'last resort' acne treatment option is because of is potency. After four to five months of regular use, Accutane therapy usually results in a noticeable clearing of acne. Because of its potency, only moderate or severe cases of acne are treated with Accutane. What can be classified as moderate or severe acne? While there are no clear delineations, an easy rule of thumb is that moderate and severe acne causes some form of scarring or other types of disfigurations. Also, moderate and severe cases of acne usually do not respond to conventional treatments. Although Accutane has gotten a bit of a negative reputation for its health risks, some doctors believe that it is actually safer than long-term antibiotic treatment. Over two million people have used Accutane, so its efficacy rates and safety have been well documented. Because it is indeed so potent, Accutane must only be administered under the continued supervision of a medical professional.

How does Accutane work? Accutane works by effectively shutting down the oil production of your skin. Accutane accomplishes this by forcing the sebaceous gland to mature. First, testosterone forces the sebaceous gland to produce different kinds of oils that line the hair follicle. Then the oil production level is stabilized so that the composition of the oil is no longer able to clog a person's pores. Accutane also prevents too much keratin, the stuff of skin, to be produced, thus also preventing the clogging of pores and formation of pimples.

How long before the effects of Accutane can be visibly seen? On average, it may take up to two months before visible improvement can be detected. Accutane should be taken with a full meal to increase the absorption of the drug. It is recommended that Accutane be taken with fatty foods, such as whole or 2% milk products. This allows the drug to be more readily absorbed.

What are some of the drawbacks of using Accutane? Although sometimes termed a 'miracle drug,' Accutane also has a number of drawbacks. Many times, users will experience a significant worsening of symptoms before things get better. Most users report a severe drying of their skin, lips, and dry eyes. Most importantly, Accutane has been linked to severe birth defects. Women of childbearing age must stringently avoid pregnancy while using Accutane. Women must use at least two forms of reliable contraception to prevent pregnancy. Recently, Accutane has also been linked to an increased risk of depression. Because Accutane is a derivative of Vitamin A, patients undergoing Accutane therapy must avoid consuming Vitamin A.

How long is a full course of treatment? One course of treatment usually takes about four to six months. Doses vary according to the patient's body weight.

Acne is painful - on the inside. We live in a culture where not just youth, but beauty is worshipped. It's everywhere and you can't escape it. The results of having acne can be emotionally devastating for teenagers as they are extremely conscious of their appearance and their image.
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