Do Accutane and alcohol mix or is it dangerous?
I've been told by my dermatologist that in no case must I drink alcohol, even in moderate quantities, since I'm currently taking Accutane (isotretinoin). I'm a moderate, casual drinker in normal circumstances (2-5 drinks per week) so abstinence hasn't been a real issue so far and I've never had any issues with my liver, but I've been reading online that a few drinks every now and then while taking Accutane isn't such a big deal. With the holidays coming up, I'm wondering how bad it can be if I have a glass of wine over dinner? My family will definitely notice if I'm not drinking and I don't want to have to explain everything.
As a person who has tried both Accutane and Proactiv, you can't compare the two. For me, Proactiv didn't work any better than any other Benzoyl Peroxide-based acne treatment that you could buy at your local CVS or Walgreens. Proactiv is just a well-marketed toner, cleanser and moisturizer. They give each of their lotions fancy names, but at the end of the day, you could buy any of these products at your local drugstore. When you buy Proactiv, 90% of what you're paying goes towards all of the marketing you're seeing. Proactiv might help with very mild acne that would disappear on its own eventually. Accutane works for chronic mild to severe acne that won't go away. In my opinion, Accutane is a cure and Proactiv is a mild treatment (if you can even call it that).
Don’t mix Accutane with alcohol! Accutane affects your liver, to the point where you need to have lab work done every month while you’re taking it to make sure your liver isn’t being harmed by it. Obviously alcohol affects your liver too, and mixing the two can be really dangerous. Another issue with alcohol and Accutane is the possibility of dehydration – the active ingredient in Accutane can dehydrate your body (not just your skin!) and alcohol does the same, so if you do forget and have a few drinks while taking it, make sure you drink a lot of water during and afterwards. Mixing with alcohol can cause the fats in your blood to rise, which also can be dangerous. Another thing to consider is whether any of your other medications can also affect your liver. Even Tylenol taken with alcohol can cause liver toxicity so be super careful if you take any other medications.
I am always happy to share my Accutane experience to help others! I am not taking it now, but it really helped me get rid of my cystic acne a few years ago and, thankfully, my acne has not returned.
The reason that it is not recommended to drink alcohol while taking Accutane is due to the fact that both are really hard on your liver. If you have any family history of any kind of liver disorder, I would definitely not recommend that you drink alcohol at all while on Accutane. However, since I don't have a family history of liver disease, I did decide to drink one glass of wine with dinner once during my Accutane treatment and, to be honest, I didn't even enjoy it due to feeling worried the whole time I was drinking it that I was doing something very unhealthy for me!
In the end, I don't think it caused me any harm, but nothing good came out of it, either. If you are concerned about what your family will think when you refuse a glass of wine, then just tell them that you found out it gives you headaches or something if you don't want to tell them you are on Accutane. Maybe someone else will chime in with their experience to provide you another point of view.
Accutane and alcohol are both processed through the liver, so you assume twice the risk of liver damage or dysfunction when you take them together. The potential for liver damage is the reason that you get your blood checked regularly when taking Accutane. Millions of people drink every day and put their livers at risk without even realizing what they're doing. It comes down to how much risk you want to assume by requiring your liver to process Accutane and alcohol together.
If you suffer from other health conditions that also put your liver at risk for dysfunction or disease, then you're potentially tripling your risk when you consume alcohol and take Accutane. If you don't have other health conditions that might impact your liver, then you may decide to take the minor risk and enjoy a drink or two over the holidays. This is a personal decision, but you should let your dermatologist know that you drink occasionally if you decide to take on that risk.