Accutane is an isotretinoin and is derived from vitamin A. Therefore, it belongs to the class of retinoid drugs. Accutane or isotretinoin has the ability to reduce the production of oil by the sebaceous glands of our skin. It can also destroy the rapidly proliferating cells, for which it was first developed as a drug for cancer treatment. As a chemotherapy medication, isotretinoin is still used in the treatment of cancer, mainly brain and pancreatic cancer.
As accutane is a retinoid drug, it can be used to treat skin disorders, like large nodular acne. It basically works by reducing the secretion of sebum by an overactive sebaceous glands, to control or treat a severe outbreak of acne. However, like any other medication, it can cause some side effects, while some of its side effects are likely to worsen if it is taken along with alcohol and certain other drugs.
Accutane and Drinking
It is usually prescribed for acne treatment, when all the other options fail to provide any relief. It has been employed for this purpose since 1982. However, for alleviating skin problems like, acne, a very low dosage of accutane is prescribed. It can adversely affect the functions of the liver, and sometimes, can cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is not a very common side effect of this medicine. But still, many physicians feel it essential to monitor the liver function of the individual, while he or she is on the drug. Generally, physicians suggest to avoid alcohol, or at least reduce its consumption while taking accutane, as alcohol is also known for its adverse effects on the liver. Taking both may put extra pressure on the liver.
Apart from liver malfunction, it is known for causing depression in some individuals. Similarly, alcohol is a well-known contributory factor for depression. So, taking them simultaneously can aggravate the problem. Another major reason for avoiding alcohol, while taking this medicine is the risk for the disease pancreatitis. It can significantly increase the level of triglyceride in the blood, and a very high level of triglycerides can increase the risk pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas. Simple carbohydrates like, alcohol, if consumed excessively can also cause an increase in the level of triglyecrides. That is why, it is usually advised to avoid alcohol abuse, while taking this drug. In addition to alcohol, certain drugs like, benzoyl peroxide, some corticosteroids, salicylic acid and sulfa drugs can also interact with accutane to aggravate its side effects.
Side Effects of Accutane
Apart from liver malfunction and depression, some other side effects are, increased level of cholesterol, dryness of the skin and mucous membrane, hair loss, headaches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, menstrual problems in women and increased sensitivity to sunlight, which can raise the risk for sunburn and sun damage. Additionally, it is widely known for its adverse effects on the developing fetus. It is known for increasing the risk for birth defects and miscarriages, for which it is usually advised to avoid during pregnancy.
It is generally not prescribed in certain medical conditions, like heart diseases, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, anorexia, asthma and liver diseases. It is also not suggested for individuals with a family history of mental illness or depression, as the drug is known for causing depression. As some of the side effects of accutane are very severe, it is better to consult a physician before taking this drug. Also, it is important to cut down or avoid the consumption of alcohol, as a precautionary measure. This can help to avoid the serious complications like pancreatitis and liver malfunction, which can occur if accutane and alcohol consumed together.