Q. Is facial hair growth a side effect of Isotretinoin?

Answered by
Dr. Rakesh Kumar Bahunuthula
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Nov 07, 2016

Hi doctor,

I am a 24 year old female. My height is 5'3" and weight 58 kg. I have started to use Isotretinoin 20 mg per day. I have been taking it for the past seven days. But, my facial hair has grown more all over my face. They are not dark, but noticeable. What to do? Should I continue the medicine? But, the medicine really cleared my acne.

Dr. Rakesh Kumar Bahunuthula

Cosmetology Dermatology HIV/AIDS Specialist Venereology


Welcome to icliniq.com.

  • Growth of facial hair is not a side effect of Isotretinoin. It could be due to factors such as racial, hormonal and irregular menses.
  • You can continue Isotretinoin till your acne clears and then reduce it to a maintenance dose of 10 mg twice weekly or as needed.
  • However, make sure that you use adequate contraception and have a negative pregnancy test as the drug is teratogenic.
  • Regarding unwanted facial hair, you may need Nd:YAG laser (Neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet) for hair removal.

Investigations to be done:

1. Serum LH and FSH (luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone).
2. Thyroid profile.
3. Ultrasonography pelvis.
4. Fasting lipid profile.

Treatment plan:

1) Eflora cream (Eflornithine) twice daily for local application over the unwanted hair.
2) Plan for Nd:YAG or diode laser for hair removal.

Regarding follow up:

For further information consult a dermatologist online.---> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist

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Thank you doctor,

What does teratogenic mean? I have read many reviews on the internet that due to Isotretinoin many people faced the facial hair issue. I am afraid to use if my facial hair growth will become more. I am just wondering if it affects my adrenal gland and with coming days will it become worse. Does Isotretinoin have any link with facial hair? Does laser darken skin?

Dr. Rakesh Kumar Bahunuthula

Cosmetology Dermatology HIV/AIDS Specialist Venereology


Welcome back to icliniq.com.

  • Isotretinoin is a drug, which can cause significant adverse effects if you are planning to conceive.
  • Hence, it would be recommended only if the pregnancy test is negative. Also, it needs to be stopped at least one month prior to planning to conceive. Teratogenicity means risk of affecting the fetus.
  • Isotretinoin does not affect the adrenals. It does not lead to growth of facial hair, instead it may cause hair loss, which is totally reversible on stopping the drug and can lead to dryness of your scalp hair.
  • Although skin pigmentation is one of the common side effects of laser therapy, if used correctly with necessary precautions of cooling during the sessions, sun screen and depigmenting cream after the session, the chance of it is very less.
  • Your facial hair could be due to other reasons as I have mentioned in the previous reply. There is no reason to panic and would suggest necessary work up for the same.

For further information consult a dermatologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist

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