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Does Roaccutane Cause Hair Loss? A Comprehensive Guide

    Quick Summary: Roaccutane & Hair Loss Insights

    Roaccutane, a treatment for severe acne, has potential side effects including hair loss, primarily through disrupting the hair growth cycle.

    Hair loss is typically temporary, with many cases resolving once treatment ends or the body adjusts.

    Preventive measures include optimising nutrition, staying hydrated, gentle hair care, scalp massages, and consulting early with a dermatologist if hair thinning occurs.

    Research indicates hair loss varies among users based on genetics, dosage, and treatment duration, but is often mild and self-limiting.

    Key Takeaway: While concerns about hair loss from Roaccutane exist, it remains a transformative solution for severe acne, with manageable side effects on hair health.

    In the journey to combat acne, Roaccutane (also known as Accutane or its generic name isotretinoin) has emerged as a beacon of hope for many. However, amidst its popularity, concerns about potential side effects, particularly hair loss, have surfaced. This article aims to delve into Roaccutane’s link to hair loss, and offer practical advice on managing and preventing this unwelcome condition.

    Understanding Roaccutane

    Roaccutane, a powerful derivative of vitamin A, revolutionised the treatment of severe acne when it was introduced. It reduces the size of the skin’s oil glands, oil (sebum) production, and prevents pores from becoming clogged.1 Despite its effectiveness, it’s not without its potential side effects.

    Side Effects of Roaccutane

    Aside from its potential to cause hair loss, Roaccutane can lead to a range of side effects, which vary in intensity from person to person. Common side effects include:

    • Dry skin, lips, and eyes
    • Sensitivity to sunlight
    • Headaches
    • General aches and pains

    More serious, though less common, side effects can include mood changes, digestive system discomfort, and visual disturbances.1 It’s crucial to have an open conversation with your doctor about any side effects you experience.

    Why Does Roaccutane Cause Hair Loss?

    The relationship between Roaccutane and hair loss isn’t entirely understood but is believed to be linked to how the drug affects the hair growth cycle. Roaccutane may cause some hair follicles to enter the resting phase (telogen) earlier than normal, leading to increased hair shedding and thinning, known as telogen effluvium.2 This condition is typically temporary, with hair usually regrowing after the medication is stopped or the body adjusts to the treatment.

    Interesting Facts and Research

    Research into Roaccutane’s effects offers some intriguing insights1,34:

    • The incidence of hair loss among Roaccutane users varies widely across studies, suggesting that genetic factors, age, dose and duration of treatment may play a role in one’s susceptibility to this side effect.
    • A study highlighted in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology noted that while hair loss/thinning is observed in 3-6% of Roaccutane users, the majority of cases are mild and self-limiting.
    • We know that Roaccutane reduces sebum production to help clear acne. While direct causal link between reduced sebum production and hair loss isn’t definitively established, theories suggest that changes in scalp oiliness could potentially influence hair health.

    Minimising Hair Loss while on Roaccutane

    While not all cases of Roaccutane-related hair loss can be prevented, certain strategies can help minimise the risk and manage the effects:

    1. Optimise Your Nutrition: A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals supports overall hair health. Focus on foods high in vitamins A, E, D, and B-complex, as well as iron, selenium, and zinc.
    2. Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration helps maintain the health of hair follicles. Aim for at least eight glasses of water a day.
    3. Gentle Hair Care: Moisturise your scalp and hair, and avoid harsh treatments such as colouring or perming. Use a soft brush and avoid tight hairstyles that can stress your hair.
    4. Scalp Massage: Regular scalp massages can stimulate blood flow to the scalp, nourishing the hair follicles and promoting healthy hair growth.
    5. Consult Early: If you notice significant hair thinning, consult with your dermatologist. They may recommend topical treatments like minoxidil to stimulate hair growth, or adjust your Roaccutane dosage.


    While the prospect of hair loss can be daunting, understanding Roaccutane’s benefits and risks is key to making an informed decision. For many, the drug offers a transformative solution to severe acne, with the potential side effect of hair loss being a manageable concern. By adopting a proactive approach to hair care and health, users can significantly mitigate the impact of this side effect.

    Remember, each person’s experience with Roaccutane is unique. Stay in close contact with your healthcare provider to navigate any side effects you encounter, ensuring a safe and effective treatment journey.


    1. Layton A. (2009). The use of isotretinoin in acne. Dermato-endocrinology, 1(3), 162–169.
    2. İslamoğlu, Z. G. K., & Altınyazar, H. C. (2019). Effects of isotretinoin on the hair cycle. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 18(2), 647–651.
    3. Lytvyn, Y., McDonald, K., Mufti, A., & Beecker, J. (2022). Comparing the frequency of isotretinoin-induced hair loss at <0.5-mg/kg/d versus ≥0.5-mg/kg/d dosing in acne patients: A systematic review. JAAD international, 6, 125–142. Available at: 
    4. Tran, P. T., Evron, E., & Goh, C. (2022). Characteristics of Patients with Hair Loss after Isotretinoin Treatment: A Retrospective Review Study. International journal of trichology, 14(4), 125–127. Available at:  

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