How Long Does It Take Isotretinoin to Start Working?

How Long Does It Take Isotretinoin to Start Working?

Isotretinoin 40mg, commonly marketed under the brand name Accutane among others, is a powerful medication primarily used in the treatment of severe acne that has not responded to other treatments. It belongs to a class of medications known as retinoids and works by reducing the production of oil (sebum) by the skin’s oil glands, thereby preventing acne formation. While isotretinoin can be highly effective, its onset of action and the timeline for visible improvement can vary from person to person.

Timeline of Isotretinoin Treatment:

  1. Initial Weeks: When starting isotretinoin treatment, patients may not notice significant changes in their acne during the first few weeks. In fact, it’s common for acne to temporarily worsen before improving. This initial flare-up occurs because isotretinoin works by pushing out existing impurities from the skin, which can lead to an increase in inflammatory acne lesions. However, some patients may begin to notice a reduction in oiliness of the skin within the first few weeks of treatment. you should know about accutane side effects
  2. First Month: By the end of the first month of isotretinoin therapy, many patients start to experience a decrease in the number and severity of acne lesions. However, the extent of improvement can vary widely depending on factors such as the severity of the acne, individual skin characteristics, and the dosage of isotretinoin prescribed by the healthcare provider.
  3. Two to Three Months: The most significant improvements in acne are typically seen within the first two to three months of isotretinoin treatment. By this time, patients often notice a substantial reduction in the number of active acne lesions, including pimples, blackheads, and cysts. The skin may also appear less oily, and existing acne scars may begin to fade gradually.
  4. Continued Improvement: With continued use of isotretinoin, acne continues to improve over the course of treatment. Many patients achieve near-complete clearance of acne by the end of their treatment regimen, which typically lasts for several months. However, some individuals may require longer treatment durations or additional courses of isotretinoin to maintain optimal results.
  5. Long-Term Results: For the majority of patients, the benefits of isotretinoin treatment are long-lasting, with a significant reduction in acne recurrence even after discontinuation of the medication. However, some individuals may experience a gradual return of acne over time, especially if underlying factors such as hormonal imbalances or genetic predispositions are not addressed.

Factors Affecting Response Time:

Several factors can influence how quickly isotretinoin starts working and the extent of improvement observed:

  1. Acne Severity: The more severe the acne, the longer it may take to see noticeable results with isotretinoin treatment. Severe nodular or cystic acne often requires higher doses of isotretinoin and may take longer to respond compared to milder forms of acne.
  2. Dosage and Treatment Duration: The dosage of isotretinoin prescribed by the healthcare provider and the duration of treatment can impact the timeline for improvement. Higher doses and longer treatment durations may result in faster and more significant improvements but also carry a higher risk of side effects.
  3. Individual Response: Each person’s skin responds differently to isotretinoin treatment, so the timeline for improvement can vary widely from one individual to another. Factors such as skin type, age, gender, and overall health can all influence how quickly acne clears up with isotretinoin.
  4. Compliance with Treatment: Consistent and proper use of isotretinoin as prescribed by the healthcare provider is crucial for achieving optimal results. Missing doses or discontinuing treatment prematurely can delay the onset of action and compromise the effectiveness of isotretinoin therapy.


In summary, isotretinoin is a highly effective medication for the treatment of severe acne, but the timeline for visible improvement can vary from person to person. While some patients may start to see results within the first month of treatment, significant improvements typically occur within two to three months of starting isotretinoin therapy. Factors such as acne severity, dosage, individual response, and treatment compliance all play important roles in determining how quickly acne clears up with isotretinoin. It’s essential for patients to maintain open communication with their healthcare providers throughout the treatment process to ensure the best possible outcomes and to address any concerns or questions that may arise.

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