Active Ingredients: Isotretinoin
Without question, the most common side effect is dryness—affecting the lips, nose, eyes, and skin over all.
If you are on Accutane, you will be dry, as the medication targets the very glands in the skin that secrete oil. For most patients, the dryness can be tolerable with frequent applications of lip balm, Aquaphor or Vaseline to the nostrils, lubricating drops for the eyes, and moisturizer oil-free!
While dryness on Accutane is inevitable, other side effects are highly variable. Other common side effects include headache, nausea, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain. Accutane has been associated with both gastrointestinal disorders namely inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis and psychiatric disorders including anxiety, depression, psychosis, and suicidal ideation.
In both cases, however, causation has never been demonstrated, after numerous case studies and lawsuits.
The possibility of rare idiosyncratic adverse effects does exist, but patients should be reassured that Accutane is not a straight ticket to IBD and suicidality.
The most important guidance patients should receive is to notify their provider immediately if any unusual or worrying side effects occur during an Accutane course. The dosage can always be decreased, or the medication discontinued altogether.
My PA program had none too subtly emphasized the importance of students passing the PANCE on the first attempt, and one classmate had already failed.
The fear of disappointing my school, my family, and myself haunted me.
I took two weeks off from work—and, effectively, my relationship—to hunker down in my room and become something of a reclusive robot. Subsisting largely off coffee and Chipotle burritos, I answered hundreds of practice exam questions every day as if my life depended on it—and it did.
Having taken a leap of faith six years earlier to pursue a career in medicine, I felt like the PANCE was more than a certification exam: it was symbolic, a validation of all that I had worked so hard for.
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