What is Isotrexin?

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  • Written By: Abrielle Lynch
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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Isotrexin is a topical gel that is manufactured by Stiefel Laboratories and is used in the treatment of moderate acne. This acne medication contains two active ingredients: a form of vitamin A called isotretinoin and erythromycin, an antibiotic. With this treatment, improvement to the skin might be seen within six to eight weeks.

Although the exact method in which isotretinoin works is unknown, it is thought that it helps the sebaceous glands produce natural oils normally by loosening the cells on the surface of the skin. In addition, isotretinoin helps by increasing the turnover of skin cells. This might help decrease blackheads and unblock pores.

A common type of bacteria associated with propionibacterium acne feeds on the oils that are produced by the glands in the skin. The waste and fatty acid produced by the bacteria irritate the glands, causing them to become inflamed and causing acne. Erythromycin stops the bacteria that are associated with acne from producing proteins. These proteins allow the bacteria to grow and increase in number. After the bacteria have stopped increasing in number, the remaining bacteria will die or will be destroyed by the immune system.


Skin redness or peeling, skin irritation and increased sensitivity to sunlight are side effects associated with this acne medication. If these symptoms become severe or last for an extended period, patients should consult their doctors. Isotrexin should not be used on areas of the skin affected by eczema, acne rosacea or sunburn. Women who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or are breastfeeding should not use Isotrexin.

Patients using Isotrexin might feel a temporary warmness on the skin or stinging when first beginning the medication. After a person uses this gel correctly, his or her skin will become lightly red, like a mild sunburn, in that area. This is common and should decrease in time.

Applying this gel more than directed by a doctor will not work quicker or be more effective. The use of sun beds, sunlamps, or exposure to sunlight should be avoided while using this gel. If sunlight cannot be avoided, protective measures such as sunscreen should be used.

Before using Isotrexin, patients should tell their doctors of any other medications they are taking. Using other skin medications, abrasive soaps or products with high amounts of alcohol along with this gel might increase the chance of drying or irritation to the skin. When using products that cause skin peeling, such as benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid or salicylic acid, patients should let their skin recover before using Isotrexin gel.


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