Adverse events in isotretinoin administration on acne patients: a literature review

Fausta Majauskaitė1

1Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania


Background: The use of oral isotretinoin for acne treatment has become revolutionary, but it is consistently associated with mucocutaneous, hepatic and depressive events, which lead to controversial opinions and fears of undesirable drug reactions. The objective of this review is to summarise the data about the side effects of oral isotretinoin in acne treatment of adults.

Aim, materials and methods: Medical publications were analysed using these databases: PubMed, Medline and Google Scholar. Certain keywords and their combinations were used to find articles and a 10-year limit was chosen as a time criterion.

Results: According to the literature, elevated liver enzymes, mucocutaneous side effects such as cheilitis, xerosis and exfoliation have established association with isotretinoin and only a trivial percent of cases address the issue of myalgias and arthralgias. No clinically or statistically significant association was observed between isotretinoin and the onset of depression. Furthermore, serious considerations should be given while treating fertile females because of isotretinoin teratogenicity.

Conclusion: Isotretinoin has commonly known side effects, but neither of them have life-threating conditions if the treatment is prescribed and supervised appropriately. More side effects and their frequency should be examined in future.

Keywords: isotretinoin, acne, side effects, vitamin A.