Isotretinoin, a vitamin A derivative (retinoid), is a common medication for treating severe acne. It is available under various brand names, and Accutane is one of them. Accutane is generally prescribed when all other acne treatments have failed. While it does a great job in clearing up the skin, using isotretinoin or Accutane can also trigger hair loss. In this article, we have explored the relation between Accutane (isotretinoin) and hair loss and ways to prevent it. Keep reading.
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What Is Accutane?
Isotretinoin, a vitamin A derivative, was sold under the brand name Accutane. It was an acne drug developed by Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG, which was discontinued in 2009.
Although oral isotretinoin or Accutane was approved by the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) in 1982, there were reports of potential side effects of the drug, linking it to depression and suicidal thoughts (1). The company discontinued manufacturing Accutane. However, it still distributes the generic versions of isotretinoin in the market.
Isotretinoin is used to treat severe acne that does not respond to other forms of treatment. Since it is a derivative of vitamin A, doctors advise avoiding taking vitamin A supplements while on isotretinoin.
Isotretinoin also has some serious side effects, including hair thinning and hair loss. Keep reading to find out how it is linked to hair loss.
Why Accutane May Cause Hair Loss
The exact mechanism of how isotretinoin causes hair loss is still unknown. However, a study found that it may cause alopecia areata (hair loss in patches) (2). More research is needed to arrive at a conclusion.
In most cases, such hair loss is temporary, and people recover once the drug is discontinued. However, in some instances, hair loss can be permanent. Let’s find out what scientific research says about this.
What The Research Says
Research indicates that the drug may suppress the hormones present in the pituitary glands (2). This hormone suppression may help clear acne. However, it may also affect the hair growth rate.
Usually, doctors tailor the dosage of the drug, depending on the severity of acne. Unregulated use of isotretinoin may trigger hair loss. Wondering if the hair loss is permanent or not? Find out in the next section.
Does Accutane Cause Permanent Hair Loss?
No. Accutane will not cause permanent hair loss if you follow the dosage prescribed. You may experience hair fall, but it will subside once you stop taking isotretinoin.
Doctors usually administer a low dosage, monitor the individual’s reaction to the drug, and then create a treatment plan. If you are experiencing hair loss while using isotretinoin, you may talk to your doctor for preventive measures or follow these tips.
Tips To Prevent Hair Loss While Using Accutane
- Follow A Healthy Diet: Follow a healthy diet plan that includes vegetables, fruits, dairy, and meat. This will help prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies and hair loss.
- Take B Vitamins: Isotretinoin treatment may cause vitamin B deficiency, especially folic acid (vitamin B9) (5). This may trigger hair loss (6). Consult a doctor to find out the right dosage you may need.
- Avoid Vitamin A Supplements: An excess of vitamin A may cause hair loss and other complications. Hence, avoid taking vitamin A supplements while on isotretinoin treatment.
- Follow A Hair Care Routine: A proper hair care regimen with the right hair products keeps the hair strong and healthy. This may help prevent hair loss.
- Stay Stress-free: Stress is a major reason for hair loss (7). That is why it is crucial to avoid stressing out. You may try meditation, take up a hobby, exercise, socialize, travel to different places, or do whatever keeps you happy.
You may experience hair loss if you are taking isotretinoin for severe acne. However, do not panic as this is temporary, and your hair will grow back soon after you stop taking the medications. While on medication, follow the tips to lessen hair loss. Consult a doctor if you experience hair loss in patches and before trying any alternative way to minimize the drug’s side effects.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Can Accutane change your hair texture?
Yes, it may affect the texture. However, it varies from person to person as not all may experience hair texture change.
How long does hair loss last after Accutane?
Your hair may start growing back after 3-6 months of stopping Accutane treatment.
How often should you wash your hair while on Accutane?
Wash your hair not more than 2-3 times a week. Whether you are on Accutane or not, overwashing damages the hair.
Does Accutane really cure acne for most people who take it?
Yes, Accutane helps clear acne if taken as per the prescribed dosage.
- The use of isotretinoin in acne
- Alopecia areata and isotretinoin; coincidence or causal relation
- Isotretinoin influences pituitary hormone levels in acne patients
- Evaluation of biophysical skin parameters and assessment of hair growth in patients with acne treated with isotretinoin
- The effects of isotretinoin therapy on serum homocysteine, folate and vitamin B12 levels in patients with acne: a meta‐analysis and meta‐regression
- The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review
- Hair and stress: A pilot study of hair and cytokine balance alteration in healthy young women under major exam stress