Isotretinoin Treatment Improves Quality of Life of Cystic Acne Patients

Isotretinoin has long been used to successfully treat cystic acne. However, the relationship between its effectivity and its psychosocial impact to the patient has not yet been fully described. Cystic acne affects people of different age groups and it can lead to low self-esteem, self-consciousness and social awkwardness.

Scientists from the Department of Dermatology, AlcaƱiz Hospital in Spain have conducted a study on 346 patients with moderate cystic acne. The subjects were treated with oral isotretinoin and after 30 weeks, the effects of the treatment on anxiety level, depression and quality of life were determined.

“This study has focused on assessing the effectiveness of oral isotretinoin treatment and its impact on the general health, Quality of Life and psychological functioning of patients with acne”, according to the lead author.

Acne can be caused by a number of factors and though it is prevalent on teenagers, it does not discriminate with regards to age. Acne does not only produce physical blemishes but also emotional scars. Health professionals usually dismiss this as part of the treatment of cystic acne.

Oral isotretinoin is the treatment of choice when the patient’s acne does not respond to oral antibiotics and other usual treatment methods. It has been found that isotretinoin can reduce sebum production of up to 90%.

In the aforementioned study, the authors headed by Servando E. Marron discovered that effective treatment of acne led to reduced anxiety levels, improved quality of life and decreased clinical symptoms. Significant statistical differences were found on the subjects’ quality of life, anxiety, patient satisfaction and depression levels pre- and post-treatment.

The authors suggest that more studies be done to clarify the relationship between isotretinoin treatment and its psychosocial impact on the individual. They add that acne patients should be tested for suicidal and depression tendencies before treatment.

This study only goes to show that proper treatment of acne can help patients overcome the shyness and social isolation they experience with severe acne. Teenagers are most prone to these issues because of peer pressure and the need for social belongingness. Suicidal and depression tendencies are higher in this age group and health professionals should now take into consideration the psychological state of their patients suffering from acne.

There is a warning from the scientists though – that isotretinoin should be handled properly and treatment should be administered in the right doses because it is teratogenic meaning it can interfere with the development of a fetus.