Oral isotretinoin for acne can improve quality of life

Having acne is often associated with psychological distress and low self-esteem. Now, research shows some medications can improve health-related quality of life for people with acne.

Research published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology involved analysing 37 studies to determine which acne treatment had the best influence on health-related quality of life.

What is health-related quality of life?

Dermatologist and All About Acne Co-Chair, Associate Professor Kurt Gebauer explained that health-related quality of life relates to a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social functioning.

“It’s a more comprehensive way of looking at the effect an illness or condition like acne can have on an individual," he added.

"Until recently, there was limited research into which treatments are best at improving quality of life for people with acne." - A/Professor Kurt Gebauer

The research review found a number of treatments demonstrated significantly better effects on the health-related quality of life of people with acne compared with a placebo, including some types of antibiotics and combination treatments.

However, the acne medication oral isotretinoin had the greatest effect on health-related quality of life.

“Isotretinoin capsules (e.g. Oratane, Roaccutane) continue to be the most effective treatment for severe acne because they address all the known causes of severe cystic acne,” said A/Professor Gebauer.

How isotretinoin works

“Isotretinoin is a type of retinoid that works by unblocking and preventing further blockage of pores, reducing sebum or oil production and soothing the redness and inflammation of acne. It makes the oil gland less friendly to the bacteria that contribute to acne,” he said.

As with any acne medication, it is important to see your GP or dermatologist for the treatment that is most appropriate for you.

“It’s essential to get the facts from a qualified medical professional who can also answer any questions you may have,” said A/Professor Gebauer.

“Australians are fortunate to have a range of effective treatments available for acne. Some medications, such as oral isotretinoin, are also available in a range of doses so the therapy can be tailored even further to your requirements,” he concluded.

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