If you’ve ever been prescribed Accutane, you’ll know that the rules on what you can and can’t do during your treatment can be pretty strict. Some of Accutane’s side effects can range from mildly uncomfortable to outright dangerous – it’s important to understand how Accutane works in order to take the appropriate precautions. One question that I often get from readers on the subject of Accutane is: “Can I drink alcohol on Accutane?” The answer is no, you should never drink alcohol if you are taking Accutane. In this article, I’m going to explain why drinking alcohol is highly discouraged, and how to stay safe during the full length of your treatment.
Table of Contents
What is Accutane?
Accutane (also known as Isotretinoin) is a Vitamin A derivative that is commonly used to treat severe forms of acne. Taken orally, Accutane is prescription-only and can only be prescribed by a doctor, dermatologist, or other medical professionals. Accutane tends to only be prescribed to extreme cases of acne, where traditional treatments have been ineffective.
So, How Does Accutane Work?
Accutane works by shrinking your skin’s oil glands – these oil glands (sebaceous glands) are responsible for producing sebum and keeping the skin moisturized, but in extreme cases, the oil glands overproduce oil: this can create clogged pores and lead to long-term acne problems and breakouts. While Accutane tends to be prescribed for a 4 to 6-month treatment period, the results tend to be long-lasting, as the treatment will permanently alter how your skin produces oil.
Accutane Side Effects
As you can imagine, Accutane will cause some noticeable side effects – after all, you’re literally changing the way your skin hydrates itself, and hydration is key to healthy skin. Understanding what Accutane does to the body is key to understanding why drinking alcohol while on Accutane can be so dangerous, but I’ll move on to that in a moment. Here are some of the side effects you can expect while taking Accutane:
Dry skin is one of the first and most common side effects that you’ll experience during your Accutane treatment – as the skin’s sebaceous glands shrink, the natural moisture in your skin will decrease and you’ll need to compensate with a high-quality, non-comedogenic moisturizer.
You’re going to notice that your skin will become increasingly sensitive during your Accutane treatment; this is due to the fact that Accutane renders your skin thinner and therefore more prone to adverse reactions to certain skin products. You’ll also notice that your skin becomes sensitive to sun exposure; having your skin exposed to direct sunlight while on Accutane can cause seriously unpleasant sunburn and increase your risk of long-term sun-induced skin damage.
Weakened Immune System
Accutane contains immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory properties. At the end of the day, acne is your body’s response to inflammation. Accutane reduces inflammation by suppressing the inflammatory response in your body. Because of this, your body’s immune system is suppressed you may be more susceptible to bacterial or yeast infections.
Acne – Yes, Acne!
Before you start to see visible results from your treatment, you might notice a temporary increase in your acne following your first month of treatment. This is normal – your skin might go through a “purging” phase, whereby the treatment empties your pores and causes a temporary breakout.
So, as you can see, taking Accutane can provoke a number of side effects, and controlling these side effects is key to getting the best results out of your treatment. So, why is drinking alcohol on Accutane a bad idea? Let me explain.
Because of the considerable side effects associated with Accutane I highly recommend trying a natural alternative to Accutane before using the medication. With a few minor tweaks to your diet and skincare routine, you can clear your acne without risking your hormone levels or potential liver complications.
Can You Drink Alcohol On Accutane?
The short and simple answer to this question – no. While some doctors might say that you can drink very occasionally and very lightly during the length of your treatment, I would personally discourage you from drinking alcohol as much as possible while taking Accutane. Not only does alcohol itself dehydrate the body (doubling the dehydrating effects from the Accutane) but the risks are simply too high, as I’ll explain further on.
Why Is Drinking Alcohol On Accutane A Bad Idea?
Drinking alcohol on Accutane is discouraged for a couple of reasons: one of the most serious of these reasons is that Accutane is known for its potential to cause elevated serum triglycerides, which in mild forms can lead to side effects such as vomiting, skin redness, and hot skin, and at its worst, can lead to fatal pancreatitis. While this remains a rare complication, it can occur when Accutane and high quantities of alcohol interact in the body.
Does Accutane Affect Your Liver?
Accutane is metabolized by the liver, so it’s unwise to drink alcohol while undergoing your Accutane treatment. If you have a history of liver problems, you should make this clear to your dermatologist before taking Accutane. Even if you have no history of liver problems, drinking alcohol while taking Accutane can increase the possibility of liver failure; this is why I strongly recommend abstaining from alcohol throughout the duration of your treatment.
FAQs: Taking Accutane
So, with alcohol covered, what else is there to know about taking Accutane? In order to avoid serious complications and enjoy a smooth, skin-clearing process with this drug, you can take a look at my FAQs for using Accutane below. These questions are some of the most common questions I’ve had from readers regarding Accutane, and my responses:
When it comes to taking supplements while on Accutane, it’s important to avoid Vitamin A; Accutane itself is a Vitamin A derivative, so there’s no need to take more. I’d advise taking fish oils in order to keep your skin moisturized, and Vitamin D to compensate for the lack of sun exposure. Always check with your physician before taking any supplements during your treatment.
It’s vital to avoid sun-tanning while on Accutane; your increased sun sensitivity will make your skin highly susceptible to burning, cracking, and peeling. While it might be difficult to keep out of the sunlight – especially during the summer months – try your best to keep covered and use an appropriate SPF.
The best type of SPF for someone on Accutane would be a non-comedogenic SPF; as your skin will be incredibly sensitive, I’d recommend a sun cream with natural ingredients and an SPF of at least 30 (but preferably 50).