Can You Use Topical Acne Medications While on Isotretinoin?

I am currently on month 3 of my second course of Isotretinoin. My skin is still oily, and I'm still getting acne break outs. Granted, they are less severe in size and number, but still happening nonetheless. I am just under 120 lbs, and I'm currently taking 40 mg a day. My question is whether or not using topical medications (Retin A, for example) will help my situation. Thanks!

Doctor Answers 3

Topical acne medications with Isotretinoin

With the low dose Isotretinoin protocols, it is safe to use topical anti acne agents. With higher doses, the skin tends to be more sensitive. But if you are on a low dose regimen, then it should be fine.


India Dermatologist
4.9 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Use gentle cleansers and a good moisturizer while on accutane.

We do not recommend using any type of topical medications while on Accutane. Most patient's skin is very dry from taking this medication so using a gentle cleanser and a good moisturizer is all we recommend.

Sue Ellen Cox, MD
Raleigh-Durham Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Topical Acne Medications and Accutane

Some (few!) topical medications are ok while on Accutane, but I would not say Retin-A is one of these. Accutane causes very dry skin and applying Retin-A onto that will result in severe irritation and redness. Consult your prescribing physician for his/her recommended topicals, but Retin-A isn't going to be one of them.

F. Victor Rueckl, MD
Las Vegas Dermatologist
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

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