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Can I take antibiotics or use other topical acne medications while I am on oral isotretinoin?

The answer is No. This is because oral isotretinoin is recommended to be used only as a monotherapy, meaning that once we start oral isotretinoin we should stop all of our other acne treatments.

If oral isotretinoin is taken in conjunction with the oral tetracycline class of antibiotics, we risk the increased incidence in one of the side effects called pseudotumor cerebri, a condition which make us feel like a really bad, persistent headache, along with nausea, vomiting and problems with vision too.

It is also advisable not to take vitamin A in high doses while on oral isotretinoin therapy because it is in the same class of compounds, and to avoid increased risk of toxicity. In fact, it is uncommon to prescribe other antiacne medications while we are on oral isotretinoin, though some dermatologists co-prescribe a nontetracycline antibiotic such as erythromycin for the first month of therapy.

Because most topical acne treatments are somewhat drying or irritating, we should discontinued them within 1 month of starting oral isotretinoin treatment. Also, topical exfoliating agents, Retin-A, and other drying agents should be avoided as isotretinoin has a drying effect on our skin and mucous membranes.

At the same time it is also helpful to avoid hot showers and drying soaps. It is good to apply moisturizers several times during the day, especially after washing in order to prevent dry, chapped skin. If we are wearing contacts, we may need to switch to soft lenses or eyeglasses until the dryness resolves.

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