Medical News Today: Does Accutane Cause Hair Loss?


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Hi all,

I came across this article this morning, and thought it was worth sharing. The idea is that isotretinoin could affect the hair shafts and follicles on the long run

I did 3 isotretinoin (Accutane) cures when I was younger due to cystic acne.
  1. At 16, I first did a complete treatment over 6-8 months, without much sides, allowing my acne to vanish.
  2. At 20, as my acne came back. A derm told me to go for a second cure, which I did and acne went away.
  3. A year later, at 21, I did a small "top-up" treatment with 3 months of low-dose accutane just to clear out some remaining pimples after the second cure.
On the third cure, I started losing hair - tons of strands everywhere. I first thought it was telogen effluvium (which is a known side of isotretinoin) and was not so worried, thinking I would recover the lost hair after treatment. I must also add the balding was very slow - I was diffusing.

A couple of months later, I kept losing hair which made me start topical minoxidil 5% (refusing finasteride from a derm). Back then, I was convinced my hair loss was triggered by Accutane as many other guys on internet complained about the same side. As for many others, Minoxidil did not yield results at all.

Years went by, and I kept losing hair at a very slow pace. Hair looked diffusely brittle and thin, despite keeping more density in the back & sides/donor area.

I then had a consultation with a renowned Belgian trichologist who got me started on oral minoxidil 5mg o.d. I took this treatment for more than a year with no success. Hair kept thinning. The tricho was surprised not to witness a single improvement and started wondering whether my hair loss could be triggered by something else than male pattern baldness.

Reasons why he thought so:
  • Oral minoxidil being inefficient ;
  • Hair loss pattern being unusual with slow shedding, also in donor area ;
  • Older brother having a full head of hair ;
  • No hair loss family history on my mother side, while my father had a mild hair loss that started in his 30s.
He asked me to perform extensive blood tests, which eventually led to nothing much, but a high bilirubin level in my blood - I will perform a liver MRI in mid-January to make sure nothing is wrong with it, but doctors don't think so as SGOT (AST)/SGPT (ALT) enzymes are at normal levels.

5 years later, here I am: 26 years old and hair has never been thinner. I am dermarolling and still taking oral minoxidil, but I must say results are yet to be seen. I have been on zix for 2 months and I am still shedding a lot.

With time, I had swept the whole "isotretinoin trigger" theory under the rug, but this article brought it up to date. The further I look into my hair loss, the more unsure I am whether it is androgenetic alopecia. Had I tried finasteride, I would have taken my responding to the treatment as an answer to my question (given the very-high responding rate).

This article is not necessarily backed by scientific studies as the 4 research papers quoted in the sources are not really mentioning long-term effects, but I just wanted to share my story with some of you.


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What’s up man. How’s your hair now? And what were your dosages on accutane for all 3 cycles ?