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"Is Accutane safe?"
I feel so bad for my son because he has terrible acne and he thinks that people at his school make fun of him all the time. He heard about Accutane and now he wants to take it. I have heard bad things though. Is it safe? Will he be okay? What are the side affects?
Accutane can be a wonder drug for teenagers with serious acne. For appropriately selected and monitored patients it can make a huge difference. However, you are also asking all of the right questions about Accutane, as it is a medication that can have serious side effects. Accutane can cause very serious birth defects, and so female patients on the drug must use birth control. This does not apply to your son in the same way, but Accutane can also cause many other symptoms including mood changes (depression, agitation, behavior changes); vision changes; eye pain, severe headaches; numbness/weakness; hearing problems or changes; seizures; abdominal pain with or without nausea and vomiting; diarrhea; gastrointestinal bleeding; or easy bruising. This is a long (and potentially alarming) list of side effects, but the important thing to remember is that Accutane is a medication that should only ever be prescribed by a physician, and patients taking the drug need close follow-up to make sure that they have the benefits of the medication without the negative side effects. For people with severe nodular acne, Accutane can make a huge difference in improving quality of life. In this situation, the best thing would be for your son to see a dermatologist for a thorough history and exam to help determine which of the many treatments for acne might work best for him.
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