Accutane is a very harsh oral drug treatment used for severe acne sufferers. The side effects are numerous. One of the most common side effects on Accutane involves extremely dry skin.
A full-proof skincare routine that involves hydrating and moisturizing ingredients is required to cope with dry skin on Accutane.
While it is significantly important to eat healthy and follow proper nutrition guidelines while taking Accutane, it is equally important to take care of your external skin barrier.
The skin barrier protects you from external stressors in the environment. When this barrier becomes dry and dehydrated, it prevents it from functioning optimally. Therefore, it is important to take the health of your skin barrier seriously, especially when it is dried out by oral medications like Accutane.
How Long Does Dry Skin On Accutane Last?
Your prescribing dermatologist will coach you through how long you should be on Accutane for. This timeframe is an important factor that decides how long your skin will stay dry for.
Accutane courses can last anywhere from 4 – 6 months, and sometimes longer if the acne is particularly resistant to treatments.
There are patients that begin to breakout again after their first course of Accutane and need to go on a second round. This happened to me and you can read about how to cope with acne returning after Accutane.
If your Accutane course lasts approximately 6 months, you can expect your skin dryness to occur throughout the duration of your course, as well as one month after the end of your Accutane course.
While on Accutane, it reduces the size of sebaceous glands. These are glands that produce sebum. Sebum can contribute to the formation of acne when it becomes mixed with dead skin cells and other debris in the hair follicle, clogging the pore.
Due to this reduction in oil, the skin become extremely dry throughout your Accutane course.
Should I Let My Skin Dry Out On Accutane?
One question that is commonly asked is whether you should just leave your skin to be dried out on Accutane. After all, the main course of action of Accutane involves drying out the skin to prevent sebum from causing breakouts.
However, this is a bad idea. Neglecting to care for your skin externally while on Accutane will lead to even more dehydrated skin, a disrupted skin barrier, and an uncomfortable Accutane course that leaves you with flaky skin and dry lips.
Caring for your skin while on Accutane allows you to maintain a consistent skincare routine after you end your course. This allows for a smooth transition between treatment and maintenance.
How To Cope With Skin Dryness On Accutane
Extremely dry skin is very uncomfortable and also terrible for the health of your skin.
This is why you need to incorporate moisturizing ingredients into your routine in order to support the skin’s barrier during this time.
It is important to be careful of the ingredients you use on your skin, making sure not to choose ingredients that will dry your skin out even more.
Ingredients To Avoid
All active ingredients should be avoided while on Accutane.
These are ingredients that increase the cell turnover rate in the skin. This means that they shorten the time needed to shed dead skin cells on the surface of the skin.
These include chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Active ingredients also include retinoids, such as adapalene or tretinoin.
These ingredients should not be used on the skin during your Accutane course because they tend to cause a significant amount of irritation, inflammation, flaking and dryness. Accutane is already drying out your skin, so the last thing you want is to add more harsh ingredients into your routine that will further damage the skin.
Something else to avoid completely while on Accutane is skincare products that contain a large amount of alcohol. High amounts of alcohol are usually found in toners.
Toners are not a necessary step in your skincare routine and more often dry out your skin than help it.
Alcohol dries out skin tissues and denatures good proteins on the surface of the skin.
Ingredients To Use
There are a multitude of ingredients that should be used in your skincare routine while on Accutane.
The first ingredient that you need to hyperfocus on includes hyaluronic acid. This is an amazing humectant that, when used properly, can retain a significant amount of water and hydrate your skin.
The issue with hyaluronic acid is that many people use it incorrectly, which actually leads to more dryness. That is why I have put together an outline of exactly how to properly use hyaluronic acid in your routine to gain its hydrating benefits that you can read about here.
The second ingredient that is imperative to repairing the skin barrier, combatting dryness, increasing collagen, and nourishing your skin includes niacinamide. This is an amazing ingredient that does it all. It is a type of B vitamin that effectively penetrates the skin. You can read more about the benefits of niacinamide here.
Basic ingredients like glycerin should not be neglected. Glycerin is a humectant that traps water in the skin. It is present in most skincare products and is well-tolerated by many.
Another ingredient that should be incorporated into your routine includes ceramides. These are wonderful substances that are found in the outer layer of our skin.
Ceramides contribute to the structure of the skin and form a large portion of the skin barrier. Ceramides are best used in skincare products that contain a specific ratio of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. You can read more in depth about this golden ratio in a blog post I wrote.
Will My Skin Go Back To Being Oily After Accutane?
Many patients find their skin is not as oily after their Accutane course.
The reason for the reduction of oil production after the Accutane course has been completed is because Accutane shrinks the sebaceous glands. This allows less sebum to be produced, even after the course has been finished.