Accutane Alternatives

Accutane Alternatives and Isotretinoin-Free Medications for Severe Acne

Severe acne
Photo: CMSP / Getty Images

When people are looking for Accutane alternatives, they tend to fall into two categories: those who want a medication that does not contain Accutane's active ingredient isotretinoin, and those who are looking for a substitute brand to Accutane.  No matter which camp you fall into, I've got the info you need here.

For alternative Accutane brands, read on below. If you're looking for isotretinoin-free (that is, Accutane-free) acne treatment options, you can skip down to the Isotretinoin-Free Acne Treatments section further down the page.

Accutane Brand Alternatives

Maybe you've been researching Accutane and found that it's no longer sold.  It's true, the company making Accutane stopped selling the medication in 2009. 

But that doesn't mean you're out of luck.  There are still plenty of medications on the market today that contain the same active ingredient: isotretinoin.  They're just sold under different brand names. 

Some people (even some doctors) still call any isotretinoin medication "Accutane," simply because that brand is the most well-known.  The bottom line is there are Accutane alternatives, so this treatment option is still available for people with cystic or severe acne.

Generic versions of Accutane have been available since 2002. These versions have the same active ingredient as the Accutane brand, so they work in the same way as the original.

If you're interested in an Accutane alternative, your options are:

  • generic isotretinoin
  • Absorica
  • Amnesteem
  • Claravis
  • Sotret

These generic alternatives have the same side effects as Accutane, and registration in the iPledge program is required. A prescription is needed for all of these and, just like with Accutane, these medications are not right for everyone. But, in the right situations, these options are great substitutes for the now non-existent Accutane brand.

Next Steps:

Everything You Need to Know About Accutane

Why Did They Stop Selling Accutane?

Isotretinoin-Free Acne Treatment Options

For some people, though, isotretinoin medication isn't an option.  Or maybe you'd just prefer not to use isotretinoin.  In these cases, there are still plenty of treatment options for people with stubborn or severe acne.

Topical retinoids are a possibility.  These come in creams, lotions, and gels that you apply to the skin, rather than take in pill form. 

Topical retinoids do some of the same things for your skin that isotretinoin can.  They exfoliate the skin, reduce oiliness, and help keep the pores clear and prevent breakouts from forming.  Just like with Accutane, you'll need a prescription from your doctor for these medications.

Oral antibiotics are another option for treating severe acne.  Since acne is caused, in part, by bacteria oral antibiotics can help get breakouts under control.  But because bacteria isn't the only culprit, your doctor will most likely prescribe other medications along with oral antibiotics (those topical retinoids, maybe.)

If you're struggling with severe or cystic acne, the best advice really is to see a dermatologist.  These serious forms of acne just don't go away on their own, don't improve with over-the-counter products, and can easily cause scarring.  Your dermatologist can help you devise the perfect acne treatment plan, utilizing isotretinoin or an isotretinoin-free medication that will work for you.  

Next Steps:

How To Treat Severe Acne

Do Natural Remedies for Cystic Acne Really Work?

Sources:

Baldwin HD.  "Pharmacologic Treatment Options in Mild, Moderate, and Severe Acne Vulgaris."  Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2015 Sep;34(5S):S82-S85.

Webster GF.  "Isotretinoin: Mechinism of Action and Patient Selection."  Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2015 Sep;34(5S):S86-S88.

Continue Reading