Minocycline Vs. Accutane: Which Acne Solution Boasts Better Results (& Fewer Side Effects)?

Acne can appear in many different forms. There are whiteheads, blackheads, comedones, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts. Mild acne is when there are a few pimples on your face, but they can be easily treated with over-the-counter products. As you develop more painful breakouts that form deeper in your skin, your acne is classified as severe. These nodules and cysts will leave scars once they finally dissipate. They usually show up on your face, jawline, and neck. Some people will even experience breakouts on their chest, back, and butt.

When you have severe acne, all you want is for it to go away. Not only can it ruin someone's confidence, but these pimples are usually very painful as well. If they're too deep in the skin to treat with topical over-the-counter treatments, the best way to get rid of them is with the help of a dermatologist. It won't be a quick process, but it will be worth it. A doctor can prescribe the right topicals and antibiotics to fight your acne from the inside and the outside. Minocycline and Accutane are two commonly used drugs that they may consider when treating severe cystic acne.

What is Minocycline?

Minocycline is an antibiotic that has been used to treat acne since the 1970s. It also goes by Minocin, Dynacin, Vectrin, Solodyn, and Ximino. As an antibiotic, it works in two ways. First, it treats your acne by killing the bacteria that cause it. Then it lowers the swelling accompanying severe cysts and nodules to relieve the tenderness and redness.

When someone is prescribed Minocycline, they have to start it slowly. At first, they should only take it before bed. Once their body is used to the drug, they can take it any time during the day. Although, if they're taking the generic Minocycline, it is absorbed by the body better when the stomach is empty. This means taking it an hour or two before or after meals. Minocycline is only recommended to be taken for 12 weeks at a time. If the acne hasn't improved in that time, the dermatologist may alter the treatment plan. Taking these pills for an extended period isn't good because it will build up in the body and increase the likelihood of side effects.

Side effects of Minocycline

Taking Minocycline comes with many side effects. While they can be severe in some cases, you need to decide if they outweigh going through life with severe acne. Many people experience mild symptoms, the most common being a headache. However, Minocycline can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dry mouth, tongue swelling, throat irritation, numb skin, and ear ringing. It may also make your skin, nails, teeth, gums, and urine change color. You don't have to be concerned about these side effects until more severe symptoms accompany them.

Healthline recommends talking to your dermatologist or seeking emergency treatment if you start experiencing chest pain, trouble breathing or swallowing, blurry vision, facial swelling, and increased bleeding or bruising. Hives may also develop along with yellow-tinted skin or eyes. Along with these side effects, you need to protect your skin from the sun because it makes you more sensitive to burns. You also want to consider whether or not to take this antibiotic if you're on blood thinners or birth control because it can make them less effective.

Is Minocycline best for you?

When deciding between Minocycline and Accutane based on the number of side effects, you should go with the antibiotic. Minocycline has severe symptoms that you may experience, but it doesn't cause significant congenital disabilities. For it to be your best treatment option, you must meet a few requirements. First, you need to be older than 12 years old. It's not recommended for anyone younger because it can slow bone growth. Your acne should also consist of many active pimples because this medication won't treat whiteheads or blackheads.

If you're looking for an acne cure, Minocycline isn't for you. It's only a short-term treatment option. Once your acne is under control, your dermatologist will transition you to topical creams or a lighter medication that aren't so harsh on your body to continue treating your breakouts. You shouldn't stay on Minocycline for an extended time, so if lots of new pimples are still showing up, you'll need to try a different treatment. This is when Accutane may become a better option for you.

What is Accutane?

Accutane is the brand name for Isotretinoin, a strong drug used to treat severe acne. Unlike other treatments, it's not an antibiotic. It's actually a derivative of vitamin A at a very high dosage. This makes it so powerful that it's not recommended for use on patients unless they've tried other options with no positive response. Patients also need to have severe and painful acne and scarring before they're applicable for this treatment.

Accutane shrinks the sebaceous glands, so they stop producing so much oil. It prevents inflammation and the growth of bacteria on the skin. Combining all of these makes it very hard for cystic acne to grow. In fact, after taking Accutane for four to six months, many patients are cured. Others may relapse to severe acne, requiring another round of the drug for the same amount of time to clear their skin. With this drug comes many side effects, but the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology explains it is safer than long-term antibiotics.

Side effects of Accutane

Accutane can give you great results and a clear face within six months, but you may experience many side effects while taking this drug. How severe your side effects are, depends on how high of a dose your dermatologist prescribes. Lower-dosage treatments usually have fewer side effects. The most common side effect that almost every patient experiences are chapped lips. It's usually accompanied by dry skin, mouth, and nasal passages. You can treat these symptoms by applying ample moisturizer to your skin and lips and staying hydrated.

Taking Accutane also makes you more sensitive to the sun, so you must wear an SPF daily to prevent burns. You may also experience dry eyes, fragile skin, thinning hair, skin itching or irritation, muscle aches, joint pain, and digestive symptoms. The more severe symptoms occur because of increased pressure in your brain, according to Healthline. This can lead to headaches, blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, seizures, or a stroke. Accutane also affects other organs like your liver and pancreas, so your doctor will pay attention to your cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood sugar levels. It's important to know that this medication has these side effects so you can decide if it's right for you.

Is Accutane best for you?

Choosing to go on Accutane or Minocycline can be a tough decision. While Minocycline can lessen the severity of your acne, Accutane can cure it. However, many side effects come with this medication, and your dermatologist will need to monitor your health while you're on it. For Accutane to be a viable treatment option, you must be in good health. Each month you need a blood test to check that your body is still operating fine while on this medication. Since Accutane is so strong, a dermatologist can only prescribe it if you suffer from severe cystic acne that leaves scars and won't respond to other treatments.

Women who plan on taking this drug must be extra aware of the birth defects that can occur if they become pregnant while on Accutane. These include the infant having a cleft palate, no ears, a small head and jaw, hearing and eyesight problems, heart defects, and fluid around the brain. To prevent this, they need to be on two forms of birth control and have two negative pregnancy tests before being given the prescription. Each month, they must take another pregnancy test and fill out the iPledge program test. Then another month must pass after finishing the round of medication before they can stop taking birth control if they so choose. While it is intense to go through Accutane, it can cure your acne after one or two rounds.