If you’re taking Accutane, you’re probably already aware of the treatment’s various side effects: skin sensitivity, skin irritation, and skin itchiness are unfortunately all part of the package when it comes to taking this powerful anti-acne treatment. In order to minimize these side effects, dermatologists advise their patients to refrain from certain activities during their treatment: these activities include strenuous exercising, heavy drinking, and – most importantly – avoiding direct sun exposure. In this article, I’m going to explain why tanning is one of the worst things you can do while taking Accutane, and why you should categorically avoid UV exposure during the length of your Accutane treatment.
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What Is Accutane?
Accutane (also known as isotretinoin) is an oral acne treatment that is prescribed to those suffering from severe, cystic forms of acne. Accutane is also used to treat acne that is resistant to traditional or topical remedies. The duration of most Accutane treatments tends to last around 4-6 months, and positive results can often be long-lasting.
How Does Accutane Work?
Accutane works by shrinking the oil glands that produce sebum; while this reduces the amount of oil on the face (and therefore results in fewer breakouts and clearer skin) it also dries out the skin and causes the skin to thin and become increasingly sensitive. This is done by altering the hormone levels in your body. As a result, certain activities (such as tanning on Accutane) are strongly advised against.
So, Can You Tan On Accutane?
The quick answer to this question is no – you should categorically avoid tanning while taking Accutane. Tanning via direct sun exposure is almost never safe – the powerful UV rays that you might soak up on the beach or on a sunbed are full of skin-damaging free radicals that not only age and damage the skin but can cause serious illnesses such as skin cancer.
However, sunbathing or tanning while taking Accutane is even less safe: as Accutane reduces the sebum in the skin, the skin loses some of its natural lubrication. The lack of sebum leaves your skin drier, making it more susceptible to burning and skin damage when exposed to the sun or powerful UV rays. So, no, you can’t tan on Accutane, and you risk the possibility of severe sunburn and hyperpigmentation if you do so. While you can’t tan during your Accutane treatment, you can resume tanning a short while after your treatment is complete. If you’re a regular tanner, you might prefer to use sunless tanning (such as creams or a spray tan) while you avoid direct sun exposure during your Accutane treatment.
How Long After Accutane Can You Tan?
A typical Accutane treatment can last from 4-6 months, although this can differ based on the severity of your acne, how your skin responds to the treatment, and other variable factors. During your treatment period, you should refrain from any tanning (sunbeds and sunbathing) and even try to limit your direct sun exposure in order to avoid sunburn and skin damage. Once your treatment is complete, you should wait around 3 months before you begin tanning again; your skin will still be sensitive in the months following your treatment. I do have to add: I really don’t recommend tanning when it comes to the skin. UV rays age the skin, cause wrinkles, and can even lead to serious problems such as skin cancer.
That being said, if you’re taking Accutane and you live in a hot climate where sun exposure is inevitable, you should take adequate measures before exposing your skin to direct sunlight.
Investing in a high-quality SPF for the face and body is always a good idea when exposing your skin to direct sunlight: an SPF will help prevent your skin from burning and help to protect against skin cancer. Although remember: exposing your skin to sunlight will always be dangerous, no matter how much SPF you use. An SPF can act only as a buffer between the UV rays and your skin, and cannot protect you fully from the destructive effects of UV exposure.
Is Accutane Worth it?
Although effective, Accutane comes with a myriad of potential side effects including hormone disruption, energy depletion, depression, and many others. Although Accutane is necessary for some people we have found that there are several natural alternatives you can use that will keep your skin clear without chemically altering your hormone levels and forcing you to stay out of the sun for 6 months. These natural alternatives are all rooted in dietary changes designed to decrease inflammation and improve your overall health.
FAQs: What To Avoid When Taking Accutane
As with any other medication, there are a number of guidelines that should be respected during the length of your treatment on Accutane. Here are a number of frequently asked questions about what not to do when taking Accutane, and my advice for each:
While light, moderate exercise shouldn’t provoke any problems, it’s best to avoid hard, strenuous exercise during your Accutane treatment. When taking Accutane, your skin will become thinner and therefore much more susceptible to exercise-induced injury, as well as susceptible to external skin damage (such as skin lesions.) Opting for lighter exercise is recommended in order to avoid any potential problems. Weight gain is not uncommon among people taking Accutane because their diet remains the same while their activity level almost always decreases. This makes it especially important to follow a low inflammation diet.
Drinking alcohol while on Accutane can provoke a number of unpleasant side effects, including heart palpitations, nausea, skin redness, and skin tingling, especially if you’re drinking heavily. Doctors recommend avoiding all alcohol consumption during the length of your Accutane treatment, and don’t forget that Accutane remains in your system for 30 days following your final dose, so you should continue to avoid alcohol for the remainder of your treatment.
It’s safe to take most supplements and multivitamins while on Accutane. In my view, the best supplements to take while on Accutane would be fish oil and Vitamin D: taking fish oil will help combat dryness and keep your skin supple and hydrated, while Vitamin D is ideal for compensating for the lack of Vitamin D you might be missing during your treatment (if you avoid sun exposure.)
The best sunscreen to use while on Accutane is a sunscreen that is light in texture (to avoid clogging pores) while remaining moisturizing and offering enhanced protection from UV rays: this means you should be choosing a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher.