Low doses of isotretinoin (brand name, Roaccutane or Accutane) are effective for treating moderate acne, according to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
“The efficacy of isotretinoin at (regular doses) in the treatment of acne is well established and considered safe, although sometimes not easily tolerated because of its cutaneous side effects,” Dr. Marcelo H. Grunwald, of Soroka University, Beer-Sheva, Israel, and colleagues write.
The researchers tested a lower dose, to see if it worked while reducing side effects, in a study of 638 patients with moderate acne. The participants were divided into two age groups - 495 who were 12 to 20 years of age, and 122 who were 21 to 35 years of age - and were treated with 20 milligrams of isotretinoin daily for six months.
Overall, 21 patients withdrew from the study.
In the younger group, 95 percent achieved a significant improvement or complete remission of their acne. Relapse occurred in 20 patients (4 percent) during follow-up over a 4-year period.
In the older group, 93 percent improved significantly or had complete remission. Acne relapses occurred in seven patients (6 percent) during follow-up.
The most common side effects in both groups were mild inflammation of the lip and mild dryness of the skin.
“Six months of treatment with low-dose isotretinoin,” Grunwald’s team concludes, “was found to be effective in the treatment of moderate acne, with a low incidence of severe side effects and at a lower cost than higher doses.”
SOURCE: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, April 2006.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD