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Taking isotretinoin during the coronavirus pandemic

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Taking isotretinoin during the coronavirus pandemic

Telemedicine and regulation changes allow patients to continue taking isotretinoin during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re taking this medication to treat acne, learn more about what you need to know.

Photo of young man applying lotion on his face

Isotretinoin is the generic name for a medication used to treat severe acne. If you take this medication, you know that you must meet with your dermatologist every 30 days. During the coronavirus pandemic, you may be wondering how that’s going to work. Rest assured, you can still:

  • Meet with your dermatologist.

  • Get a new prescription for isotretinoin every 30 days.

  • Have your dermatologist monitor you.

To help patients shelter in place, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidelines for patients taking isotretinoin.

Two isotretinoin guidelines have changed

To help reduce the spread of the coronavirus in your community, your dermatologist may ask you to make the following changes:

Schedule telemedicine appointments: During the coronavirus pandemic, your dermatologist may meet with you online instead of in-person. This means that you will use your smartphone or computer to meet with your dermatologist. This type of appointment is called a telemedicine appointment.

If your dermatologist uses telemedicine, someone at your dermatologist’s office will provide all the information you need for these appointments.

For more information about what to expect from a telemedicine appointment, visit What is Telemedicine?

Perform home pregnancy tests: If you are a female who can get pregnant, you still need a pregnancy test every 30 days. During the coronavirus pandemic, you may use a home pregnancy test.

You are responsible for buying the pregnancy test. If you prefer to stay home, you can buy a home pregnancy test online and have it delivered.

Before you meet with your dermatologist, you must take the pregnancy test. During your appointment, you’ll need to tell your dermatologist the following:

  • When you took the home pregnancy test

  • The result of the home pregnancy test

If you’re uncertain when to take this pregnancy test, contact your dermatologist’s office.

Isotretinoin guidelines that stay the same

To keep taking isotretinoin, you must continue to do the following:

  • Get a new prescription from your dermatologist every 30 days.

  • Use two forms of birth control (or not have sex) if you can get pregnant.

Dermatologists continue to help patients with pressing needs

The pandemic has brought many changes in our lives. During this time, it can be comforting to know that one thing remains the same. You can continue to rely on a dermatologist’s expertise to help with you safely take isotretinoin.

Related AAD resources

For more information about how to protect your health, visit the AAD Coronavirus Resource Center.

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Last updated: 12/15/21