7 Tips to Care for Your Skin While Taking Accutane
Accutane (isotretinoin) is a potent medication that is used to clear moderate to severe acne and acne scarring when other treatment methods don’t work (American Osteopathic College of Dermatology). Although there can be many side effects to taking Accutane, you can help to minimize them by following these six simple skincare tips while you’re taking the medication.
1. Start with a Smaller Dose and Gradually Increase
Depending on how severe your acne or scarring are, your doctor will recommend a certain dosage schedule for your Accutane treatment. For most people, the appearance of their skin may seem to get worse before it gets better, but starting with a lower dose of the medication and gradually increasing it over time can help to counteract this effect. After the first four to eight weeks, you should start to see a noticeable improvement in your skin’s condition.
2. Use a Non-foaming Cleanser
Accutane can cause significant skin dryness and flaking, so it’s important to adjust your skincare routine accordingly. Make sure you’re cleansing your skin in the morning and at night with a non-foaming cleanser, as foaming products can increase dryness. Look for a creamy cleanser that will be gentle on your skin, such as PCA Creamy Cleanser or VMV Hypoallergenic Creammmy Rich Intensive Moisturizer Milk.
3. Apply a Barrier Repair Moisturizer
While it might seem counterproductive to use a moisturizer when you’re struggling with acne, severely dry, flaky skin can actually clog your pores even more and worsen the problem. To avoid this, use a barrier repair moisturizer like Zerafite Barrier Repair Moisturizer as frequently throughout the day as you need to. It’s also important to make sure you’re drinking enough water to help keep your skin and your entire body properly hydrated. The recommended daily amount of water is 11 to 15 cups.
4. Wear Sunscreen
One of the most common side effects of Accutane is an increased sensitivity to the sun (Practical Dermatology). Because of this, you’ll need to take extra precautions to keep your skin protected from UV rays. If you’re going to be outdoors, make sure you wear sun protective clothing like a sun hat, sunglasses, and cover-up, and wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30. As a general rule of thumb, you should reapply sunscreen every hour or after swimming or sweating. Remember, too, that UVA rays can penetrate glass, so don’t forget your sunscreen while driving or sitting near a window.
Since you don’t want to worsen acne, look for a sunscreen that is noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. Many people with acne-prone skin do best with a physical sunscreen rather than a chemical one. EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 utilizes the natural mineral UV protection of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to create a physical barrier between your skin and the sun’s UV rays.
You can also take an antioxidant-rich supplement called Heliocare to give your skin added sun protection.
5. Use a Healing Lip Balm
Don’t forget that your lips can also become dry and chapped, so use a lip balm that contains SPF such as Coola Classic Liplux SPF 30 while out in the sun. To help combat dryness, use a nourishing lip balm like Lipsmart or FixMySkin as needed.
6. Avoid Waxing
Because the heat from the wax may burn the top layer of your skin, which becomes thinner when taking Accutane, it is not recommended that you wax your face or eyebrows while on this medication. You can shave, pluck, or thread hairs instead to eliminate this risk.
7. Add Fatty Acids to Your Diet
Accutane can increase your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, so it’s important to eat a low fat, high fiber diet while taking it. In addition, eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon, flax seeds, walnuts, and spinach can help to lower inflammation.