Do relapses of acne occur after treatment with isotretinoin?

Dr. Doris Day, MD
Recurrence of acne is not uncommon after oral isotretinoin treatment. Some people are successfully retreated with oral and topical antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, and topical retinoids, but a significant number require retreatment with isotretinoin. According to one study, only 38% of patients had no acne at the 3-year follow-up after a single course of oral isotretinoin. Among the remaining patients, acne was controlled with topical treatment in some and topical treatment plus oral antibiotics in others, and in a significant number of patients, retreatment with oral isotretinoin was required for adequate results.

The authors of the study noted that relapse was more likely to occur in patients who were 16 years old or younger and in women versus men. Relapse is most common in the first year after treatment. Maintenance treatment with a topical retinoid may reduce the relapse rate.
100 Questions & Answers About Acne

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100 Questions & Answers About Acne

100 Questions and Answers About Acne provides you with all the information you need to manage your complexion problems. Written by Dr. Doris J. Day, a world-class expert in the field, this clearly...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.