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What Is Zenatane Used For?

If you have severe nodular acne, using Zenatane for 15 to 20 weeks can often clear it up permanently. However, because this medication can cause severe side effects, it is reserved for use in people who have tried other acne treatments without success. Zenatane is also sometimes used "off-label," such as to treat milder forms of acne and for certain chemotherapy treatment.

An Overview of Uses for Zenatane

Zenatane™ (isotretinoin) is an effective but potentially dangerous acne medication that is available by prescription only. Unlike many other acne medications, it is taken by mouth instead of applied to the skin. Although Zenatane can be extremely effective with just one course of treatment (or sometimes two), it is reserved for people who have severe nodular acne that has not responded well to other treatments (because of the risk of serious side effects).
Your dermatologist may prescribe Zenatane if other acne treatments have not worked. However, because this drug can also cause birth defects, it is important that you are not pregnant and do not plan on getting pregnant while taking it.
You must use two methods of birth control at the same time during treatment. This is done for one month before acne treatment begins, during acne treatment, and for a full month after stopping the drug. Talk with your dermatologist about when it's safe to get pregnant.
There are many types of acne, and nodular acne is one of most severe. Nodules are large, painful, solid lesions that are lodged deep within the skin. "Severe" nodular acne involves many nodules, not just a few. Zenatane is approved only for severe nodule acne; it is not approved for milder types of acne. For these milder types, the risks of the drug probably outweigh the benefit.

How Does It Work?

Zenatane is a retinoid, which means it is similar to vitamin A. It works by affecting the sebaceous glands. These glands produce sebum (an oily substance), and Zenatane works by reducing the size of the sebaceous glands and decreasing sebum production.
Zenatane also corrects abnormal keratinization (which causes a buildup of cells within hair follicles), a problem that contributes to acne. It is not entirely clear as to why the medication causes long-lasting, anti-acne effects (one 15- to 20-week course often clears up acne permanently).

Zenatane Acne Medication

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