Accutane, generically known as isotretinoin, is an oral medication that is prescribed by a medical professional for a person who plagued with severe cystic acne. It is not a drug that is easily prescribed by physicians, however, in extreme cases, it is the last resort for helping clients achieve relief from acne breakouts. Clients are typically on a regimen for a six-month period of time. So what do you do if a client wants a treatment during or after using this drug?
Let's start by learning a little bit more about the product. Accutane is monitored by a national program called iPledge. No medical professional can prescribe Accutane and no client can take Accutane without being enrolled in iPledge. It requires female clients to use birth control, even if they are sexually abstinent. Monthly liver function tests are also a requirement when taking this drug. Prior to starting on Accutane, female clients must have two negative pregnancy tests one month apart.
There are numerous harsh side effects with Accutane and clients are monitored closely. Blurred vision, fatigue, joint aches and pains, and depression with suicidal thoughts are the intense side effects that could occur. Severe birth defects can occur if a woman becomes pregnant while on isotretinoin. Clients will have severe drying of the skin over the entire body, including mucous membrane, likes lips.
Accutane essentially shuts down the oil glands. The lack of sebum can create very fragile skin that is susceptible to cracking, irritation and infection. The dryness can continue for months after the course of Accutane has been completed.
When your client comes in after Accutane, you need to be diligent and ultra-cautious in your approach for treatment. Medical research indicates that Accutane can have effects for a minimum of six months after the last dose was taken. When a client requests a treatment post-Accutane, make sure they complete or update the medical form that you have on file. This will act as a contract of sorts should your client be fudging the truth about when their Accutane treatment ended. Keep in mind that your client’s skin will need to be treated progressively, not aggressively.
Start your client with a facial for sensitive skin and double check her sensitivity to products. Avoid steam and harsh ingredients (like glycolics) that can injure and affect the acid mantle, opening the door to a possible infection. Double cleanse with a gentler cleanser rather than use an aggressive cleanser. Concentrate on hydrating the skin with products that rank low on the comedogenic scale. Use peptides and growth factors, but add them gradually. Clients may still experience some acneic breakouts and medical professionals recommend regular retinol use at least twice a week. A gentle cleanser, hydrating moisturizer, and diligent SPF use will help your clients skin heal.
Once you become familiar with your client’s post-Accutane skin, consider introducing soothing treatments, like LED light therapy, a nano-technology collagen induction therapy session, and ultrasonic skin spatula for introducing nourishing skin care. Tweeze instead of waxing. You don’t want to lift skin. Clients who have dealt with severe cystic acne and then a course of Accutane have experienced emotional highs and lows. They may have traded the horrific acne breakouts for skin that has acne scars, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and is extremely thin and fragile. You can help deliver healthy skin to your post-Accutane client with patience and a slow and steady plan for treatment.
Photo: Shutterstock | Blue Planet Studios
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Mary Nielsen grew up in Minnesota but calls Portland, Oregon home for the past 30 years. She is the Executive Director of Spectrum Advanced Aesthetics Institute and serves on the board of Certified Advanced Estheticians for the state of Oregon. She is a happily married grandmother who has been thrilled to be working in the never dull field of advanced esthetics for over 17 years. She spends her free time outdoors or at her sewing machine.
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