If you started experiencing fatigue, brain fog, and tiredness right after starting Accutane, you might be wondering if the medication has something to do with it.
While Accutane is typically known for its side effects related to skin, yes, it is possible that the medication can make you tired.
In this article, we will discuss what Accutane is, how it works, why it can sometimes make you tired, and what are some things to do to counter the side effects.
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What is Accutane?
Accutane is a brand name for the medication known as isotretinoin, a potent vitamin A derivative prescribed to treat severe acne that hasn’t responded to over-the-counter treatments or persists in larger areas of the body, such as the back and chest.
While certainly the most popular name for isotretinoin in North America, isotretinoin is produced by other brand names, such as Absorica, Zenatane, Claravis, Myorisan, and Sotret, which are prescribed to patients outside of the US and Canada.
How Does Accutane Work?
Accutane reduces the size of the oil-producing glands inside the body, thus inhibiting their function and decreasing the amount of oil produced.
Less oil will reduce the severity of acne since excess oil is one of the main causes of this inflammatory condition.
When the oil glands produce excessive amounts of oil, the pores, which are passages for oil to move toward the skin’s surface, become blocked.
This blockage mixes with dead skin cells inside the pores, creating a stiff plug that serves as food for the acne-causing bacteria.
The bacteria then starts to grow and proliferate, triggering the immune system into reaction and leading to the characteristic redness, swelling, and pain associated with a pimple.
Therefore, by reducing the amount of oil produced, Accutane can help reduce current and prevent future acne outbreaks.
And while Accutane has an incredibly successful track record in treating severe acne in as little as a few months after starting the medication, it is undoubtedly one of the most controversial acne treatments out there, thanks to the plethora of side effects associated with it.
Common Accutane Side Effects
As we already mentioned, Accutane shrinks the oil-producing glands in the body. However, our oil isn’t bad unless it’s stuck inside the pores, of course, and it serves many important functions throughout the body.
From lubricating our skin and protecting it from external pathogens to making sure our joints are mobile, and our eyes aren’t dry and itchy, our oil is incredibly important for our overall health.
Because of this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that reducing oil production in our bodies can also lead to various side effects, some of which may be more severe than others.
Therefore, some common side effects you are likely to experience after starting Accutane include:
- Dry skin.
- Peeling and flaking.
- Sun sensitivity and sunburns.
- Dry lips or cheilitis (severe inflammation of the lips.)
- Nose bleeds due to dry skin.
- Joint pain due to drying of the synovial fluid.
Additionally, Accutane can pretty much be described as the nuclear weapon for acne, and as such, it’s bound to cause side effects that may interfere with your day-to-day life.
Therefore, besides dry and flaky skin, some of these side effects can include:
- Stomach aches.
- Hair loss.
- Blurry vision and dry eyes.
Does Accutane Make You Tired?
Accutane fatigue is a common side effect of isotretinoin treatment, and according to a study, it affects around 20% of people who take Accutane.
The severity of the fatigue can range from mild tiredness to severe exhaustion, and for some, it may be debilitating to the point where it interferes with day-to-day activities.
It has been observed that the severity of the fatigue experienced after starting Accutane is dependent on the dosage, with patients who are taking lower doses of the medication experiencing mild and negligent levels of fatigue, while those taking higher doses of the medication may experience moderate to severe, and even debilitating fatigue, in some cases.
Additionally, it has been noted that people who have lower body mass index (BMI) may be more prone to experiencing the side effects of Accutane than those with higher BMIs.
How to Beat Accutane Fatigue?
If you are taking Accutane and are experiencing some of these side effects, here are a few things you can do to lower symptoms of fatigue:
Since Accutane can, in some cases, cause headaches and brain fog, it is more important than ever to pay attention to your diet to help mitigate the side effects of the medication.
Including antioxidant foods like berries, dark leafy greens, and citrus fruits in your daily menu can help reduce inflammation in the body and provide you with a much-needed energy boost.
Additionally, healthy fats and protein from white meat like chicken and turkey can also help nourish the body.
Finally, omega-3s from fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are incredibly important for the body and can help improve brain function during Accutane treatment.
However, if scouring the internet for the best diet sounds overwhelming and confusing, make sure to check out GoodGlow’s ebook, which is an easily digestible guide packed with information on how to improve your health and skin through eating good food.
Supplements are another great way to relieve Accutane fatigue. Vitamins like D and B6 can help you stay energized and reduce the symptoms of fatigue.
Additionally, supplementing with trace minerals like selenium can help improve cognition and immune system function since this is one of the minerals that decrease in the body due to having to take birth control alongside Accutane.
Lastly, supplements like magnesium can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality, which can help you stabilize your sleep schedule and feel more energized during the day.
Hydration is essential while on Accutane, as the medication alone can make you dehydrated, and dehydration is one of the main causes of fatigue and brain fog.
Therefore, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid sugary drinks and alcohol, as these can further dehydrate you.
Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do while tired; however, regular exercise can actually boost energy levels and improve mood in the long run.
Besides helping you maintain a moderate weight, which is incredibly important while on Accutane, exercise can help reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and stabilize hormones to alleviate fatigue.
Accutane fatigue may be an uncomfortable side effect; however, it’s not a permanent problem and should go away after you finish the course of medication.
Accutane isn’t a mood-altering medication; therefore, it shouldn’t affect your psychological state.
However, due to the side effects associated with Accutane, there have been reports of patients experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts while taking the medication.
That said, existing studies have found no basis for a link between Accutane and depression; therefore, it’s unclear whether the two are connected.
On the other hand, there are also reports that show a general improvement in the mental state and well-being of people who have struggled with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression due to acne once they start seeing improvements in their skin after starting Accutane.
Therefore, while you cannot predict the side effects you may experience when starting Accutane, monitoring your mental health and discussing any changes with your health provider is always a good idea.
Dry skin is one of the main side effects of Accutane and can be incredibly uncomfortable to deal with.
Therefore, to prevent discomfort and keep your skin hydrated while taking the medication, make sure to have an excellent skincare routine that consists of gentle cleansers, barrier-repairing moisturizers, and sunscreens with high SPF to protect your skin from sunburns and damage.