In humans, pimples tend to appear on the face, neck, back chest and shoulders. Skin cells, sebum and hair clump together forming a plug. Then, this plug collects dirt resulting to a swollen plug. A pimple starts when this swollen plug begins to break down. A pimple is just one of the signs of acne. Acne is a common human skin disease characterized by pimples, seborrhoea, comedones, papules, nodules, and scarring. Aside from scarring, acne can also affect a person psychologically.
But why do people have acne? In puberty, acne is usually caused by the increase in androgens such as testosterone regardless of sex. It causes the follicular glands to enlarge; thus making more sebum. Hormonal changes, such as menstrual cycle, can also contribute to the formation of acne. There is also a similar increase in androgens in pregnancy that also contributes to the formation of acne. Aside from androgens, there are other several hormones causing acne: dihydrotestosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, and insulin-like growth factor 1.
Sometimes, the genetic component of a person also contributes to the formation of acne. In layman’s term, acne can be inherited from your first-degree relatives. Genes that are possibly related to acne are polymorphisms in TNF-alpha, IL-1 alpha, and CYP1A1.
Another factor that can contribute to the formation of acne is the stress levels of an individual. The National Institute of Health in the US lists stress factor that can cause acne formation.
Although there are myths about how certain food can help form acne. While there is no scientific evidence about this, a high glycemic diet can worsen acne. Acne and insular metabolism is also said to be correlated. Another research states that acne can also be related to obesity.
And just like any other disease out there, acne can also be caused by certain kinds of bacteria. Propionibacterium acnes (P. Acnes), an anaerobic bacterium species, are widely concluded to be the cause of acne. Staphylococcus aureus was discovered to also contribute to the formation of acne.
Many different treatments for acne are present today. These treatments include antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, antiseborrheic medications, anti-androgen medications, hormonal treatments, retinoids, alpha hydroxyl acid, salicylic acid, azelaic acid, nicotinamide, and keratolytic soaps.
One of the most effective treatments for acne is Isotretinoin, first marketed as Accutane. It is used to treat cystic acne and to prevent certain skin cancers. It can also be used to treat brain cancer, pancreatic cancer and other types of cancer. Aside from those, it can also treat harlequin-type ichthyosis, a lethal skin disease.
The primary use of Accutane is for the treatment of severe cystic acne. Dermatologists support its use for lesser degrees of acne that is proven to be resistant to other forms of treatment.
There are certain provisions before using Accutane. First of all, do not use Accutane if you are allergic to any ingredient in Accutane or to Vitamin A. Accutane is a retinoid meaning that it is related to Vitamin A.
If you are pregnant, may become pregnant or are planning to be pregnant, you should not take Accutane. Accutane is a tetratogen and is highly likely to cause birth defects such as hearing and visual impairment, missing or malformed earlobes, facial dysmorphism, and mental retardation if taken by women during pregnancy or even a short time before conception. Also, you should not use Accutane if you are breast feeding.
There are also medical conditions that may act together with Accutane. It is important to seek your doctor’s advice if you have a personal or family history of mental problems such as depression, or if you have a personal or family history of asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver problems, bone problems, or eating disorder. You should also ask your doctor about the effects of Accutane on you if you have a history of hearin problems, stomach or bowel problems, problems in the pancreas, or irregularity in your menstrual cycle.
In addition to that, there are some medicines that may interact with Accutane so it is important to tell your doctor about this. However most of them would advise you not to take these medicines due to certain reasons. Tetracyclines can increase the pressure in the brain if taken with Accutane; while, St. John’s wort can increase the risk of failure of hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills. There are many other medicines that could interact with Accutane so it is best to tell your doctor about it.
While on Accutane, you can have lab tests including but not limited to pregnancy test, cholesterol and lipid levels, liver function tests, blood sugar levels, and white blood cell counts. This should be done in order to make sure you are not developing any disease while taking Accutane.
Accutane can also increase the sensitivity of the skin. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, and/or tanning booths if you are taking Accutane since you can be easily sunburned. Dermatologists highly recommend the use of sunscreen if you are using Accutane. You also shouldn’t undergo cosmetic procedures such as waxing and dermabrasion while on Accutane since this can cause scarring due to the increased sensitivity of your skin.
Some patients are reported to have mental or mood problems such as depression while taking Accutane. Mood problems are considered to be a sever side effect of Accutane. So if you experience sad or crying spells, anxiety, irritability, aggressiveness, loss of interest of pleasure in social or sports activities, changes in weight or appetite, decreased energy, and/or suicidal thoughts, you should stop using Accutane and immediately tell your doctor about it.
More people are also concerned about Accutane and alcohol. Accutane can cause drowsiness or dizziness. It can worsen if you take Accutane and alcohol or Accutane with any other medicine. Also since Accutane is processed through the liver, taking Accutane and alcohol may increase your liver toxicity and can damage your liver badly. This usually results in liver cancer. Also, the combination of Accutane and alcohol can alter some lipids in your blood. Taking Accutane and alcohol may increase the triglycerides in your blood. Very high levels of triglycerides can cause pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas. Drinking alcohol while on Accutane can also increase your cholesterol count. Depression is a side effect of Accutane. So taking Accutane and alcohol can worsen your depression since alcohol is a depressant.
While many seek the Internet for advice about Accutane and alcohol, it is recommended to talk to your doctor who prescribed you the Accutane about this since the effect of Accutane and alcohol on a person might be different from its effects on you. Baed on your medical history, your doctor should be able to give you an idea of how much alcohol you can consume. However, most reviews about drinking alcohol while on Accutane on the Internet tell that they have been drinking while taking Accutane and that their results have come out good. It may be possible but damage may not be seen immediately. Side effects such as liver cancer and pancreatitis are often late reactions.
The side effects of Accutane can also worsen if you take any other medication such as Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Other side effects of Accutane include dryness of the skin, hair loss, bone weakness, headaches, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and menstrual problems in women. If you want to take this drug or your dermatologists advised you to, ask him about the possible side effects and the possibility of it occurring to you. You should also be able to have a check-up with your doctor while taking Accutane.