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Updated: Jan 3, 2022

Roacutane (or Isotretinoin), is a capsule used to treat severe cystic acne. It comprises of high quantities of oral Vitamin A.

This medication, whilst extremely effective, can result in severe side effects.

It therefore must be managed and prescribed by a medical doctor.

A commonly prescribed generic in South Africa is Oratane.

Who is a suitable candidate for Roacutane? This medication is suitable for patients with severe cystic acne who are not responding to other forms of acne treatment. It is safe in patients from 12 years and older.

Pregnant/ breastfeeding woman are not suitable candidates, and when a woman is on Roacutane it is imperative that she use a double barrier method of contraception to avoid pregnancy.

Roacutane can harm an unborn baby.

It is also important not to conceive for at least a month following Roacutane usage.

Before starting Roacutane, it is also very important to do a cholesterol test and liver functions blood tests.

The medication is processed through the liver, and therefore it is very important to ensure that the liver is functioning properly.

Key factors to consider:

Roacutane usually starts to work after roughly 10 days. However, it is not uncommon. For the skin “to get worse before it gets better” in the first few weeks.

Decreased mood can also be found in certain patients who start Roacutane, and therefore it is important to disclose to your doctor if you have a history of depression.

Common side effects:

Dry lips

Sensitivity to light or the sun, and the ability to sunburn easily

Dry eyes


Joint/ muscle pain

Management of side effects:

SPF 50 MUST be worn at all times, and sun exposure must be limited to a minimum.

Tanning beds are strictly off limits

Waxing will lead to severe peeling of skin

Dry eyes may require extra lubrication

Headaches/ joint pain can be treated with painkillers from your doctor

Frequently asked questions:

Can I exercise whilst on this medication?

Exercise is permitted, but try to avoid heavy exercise that could exacerbate joint pain.

Can I drink alcohol?

If you do drink alcohol, it is not recommended for you to drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

A standard glass of wine is 2 units, whilst a pint of beer is usually 2 to 3.

The medication is usually taken once a day, after a meal.

The starting dose is on average 0.5mg/kg. Your doctor may change your dose depending on your individual skin needs.

For more information, or to determine if you are a suitable candidate for Roacuatane/ Oratane, please book an appointment with our Medical doctor at Body360 Medical Aesthetics today!

Body 360 Medical Aesthetics Anti-Aging & Laser Skin Care Clinic Big Bay Cape Town "Doctor Leanne"

Office 103 1st Floor

Big Bay Office Park

Beach Estate Boulevard

Big Bay

Cape Town

South Africa

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