Isotrex Gel

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Isotrex Gel is a preparation that is applied directly to the skin to treat acne. It contains an active ingredient called isotretinoin, which is classed as a 'retinoid' and is derived from vitamin A. It is effective at treating mild to moderate acne.

Isotrex Gel (isotretinoin) is used to treat mild to moderate acne and a handful of other skin conditions. It should not be used in children who have not yet started puberty.

The active ingredient in Isotrex Gel is isotretinoin, a vitamin A derivative better known by the brand name Accutane. Accutane is administered via tablet and is a remarkably effective treatment for moderate to severe acne. However, when administered via tablet, it also carries risk of severe side effects. Applied topically to the skin, Isotrex Gel is somewhat less potent than Accutane tablets, but is also considerably less likely to produce serious side effects.

Additionally, because of Accutane's risks---particularly with respect to harming unborn or breastfeeding babies---it is heavily regulated in many areas, with patients unable to legally purchase it without registering with---and participating in---programs to ensure patients avoid pregnancy and monitor for side effects. Isotrex Gel, on the other hand, has no such requirements.

To summarize the differences between Isotrex Gel and other forms of isotretinoin:

  • Isotrex Gel is administered topically to the affected skin. Other forms of isotretinoin are usually administered by tablet.
  • Isotrex Gel is effective in mild to moderate acne. Isotretinoin tablets are effective in moderate to severe acne.
  • Isotrex Gel is unlikely to produce severe side effects. Isotretinoin tablets are associated with several severe side effects.
  • Isotrex Gel should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding, but is unlikely to cause severe harm if used shortly before conception or briefly at the start of pregnancy before the pregnancy is known. Isotretinoin tablets are very likely to cause harm if used within a month prior to conception or at any point during pregnancy---even a single tablet can cause severe birth defects or death of the fetus.
  • Isotrex Gel can be purchased and used without any particular restrictions or participation in programs. Isotretinoin tablets are often heavily regulated and participation in programs may be legally required.

Note that if men take isotretinoin tablets the medication will be present in sperm and thus can cause birth defects even if the woman has not taken the medication. While this is unlikely to be a concern for men using Isotrex Gel, the subject has not been studied in-depth and so it should be assumed there is at least a slight risk. Both men and women should avoid using any isotretinoin products if trying to conceive.

An Acne Solution that Really Works

While Isotrex Gel is admittedly less potent than isotretinoin tablets, it is still a powerful medication and it very often produces results when other treatments have failed. Its effects are not completely understood, but it does offer a number of clear benefits:

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Minimizes red spots and/or blotchy patches
  • Loosens blackheads and whiteheads
  • Prevents new lesions from forming
  • Minimizes scarring
  • Reduces oil gland size and production
  • Removes dead skin
  • Destroys bacteria

A thin layer of Isotrex Gel should be applied to the affected area once or twice per day. Avoid getting it in eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin. The gel may sting quite a bit when first applied; applying less gel or applying the gel less frequently may help. Note there has been no advantage shown in applying more than a thin layer or more frequently than twice a day.

In most cases it takes 4 to 8 weeks of regular treatment before significant improvements are seen and several months before acne is fully cleared. In the first few weeks of treatment the condition may noticeably worsen. This is an unfortunate---and frustrating---drawback, but the end results are often worth it; patients who stick with it often find their acne clears up completely and stays that way for years---even permanently. If acne does return treatment can be restarted, and if Isotrex Gel is used at early symptoms it will often be cleared up in weeks rather than months.

Isotrex Gel should be used with caution on skin conditions other than acne, such as eczema or rosacea. Tablets have shown benefit in these conditions, but they tend to be very sensitive to topical solutions and the condition may be worsened.

Precautions & Adverse Reactions

Some things to keep in mind while using Isotrex Gel:

  • The gel is flammable. Do not use while smoking or near open flames.
  • Areas where the gel has been applied may be more sensitive to UV light. Avoid tanning beds or sun lamps, and use sunscreen if in sunlight.
  • Avoid using the gel if there is a family or personal history of skin cancer.
  • Avoid using the gel on skin damaged by anything other than acne; skin that is infected, sunburned, has a rash, and so forth.
  • Do not apply other skin products---medicated or unmedicated---on the application area without explicit doctor approval. Doing so can reduce Isotrex Gel's potency or cause skin irritation.

As mentioned above, stinging is common when Isotrex Gel is first applied. Skin may also feel warm and turn slightly red. Those side effects are normal and not cause for concern. Severe pain, irritation, and peeling are not normal; try applying less gel or using it less frequently if this occurs. If reducing application doesn't help, stop using Isotrex Gel. A doctor or pharmacist can recommend an alternative treatment.

Isotrex Gel

0.05% isotretinoin  Buy Isotrex Gel 30g Tube - $35.85
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Buy Isotrex Gel 30g Tube 0.05% Unavailable

Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

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