How to Handle Peeling Skin While on Accutane

Accutane is a prescription vitamin A solution used to control oil on the skin and promote skin renewal as a treatment for nodular acne 1. Because of severe side effects and a risk of birth defects in babies born to mothers using the medication, Accutane is usually tried only when other acne treatments and medications have failed to improve symptoms 1. One side effect of Accutane use, peeling skin, is usually treatable at home 1. Report any sudden or severe changes in your skin to your doctor.

Wait several weeks before adjusting your dose or beginning treatment for peeling skin. Mild peeling skin is a normal reaction to the medication during the first few weeks of use. This side effect usually fades gradually.

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Wash your face with a mild soap formulated for dry and sensitive skin, and rinse in cool, clean water. Avoid hot water and harsh soaps, as these increase dryness and cracking.

Pat your skin dry with a clean, soft towel. Do not rub your skin. Doing so will worsen peeling, cracking and dryness and may damage thin skin around your eyes and nose.

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Apply a moisturizer to your affected skin after bathing, every morning, and before you go to bed at night. Begin with a non-comedogenic water-based lotion, as these are less likely to clog pores and contribute to acne.

Switch to an oil-based moisturizer if water-based lotions are not effective. Limit use of oil-based products to peeling areas. Oil-based products may clog pores.

Cover your peeling lips with petroleum jelly or an oil-based moisturizing ointment to lock in moisture and prevent additional drying.

Stay out of the sun and avoid using tanning beds when taking Accutane 1. The medication increases sensitivity to sunlight and sun exposure can cause or worsen skin peeling. Wear sunscreen on all exposed skin areas during treatment with Accutane 1.

Check other supplements you are currently using to prevent taking in additional vitamin A. Taking in vitamin A from other sources will worsen skin peeling and other side effects.

Report severe skin peeling to your doctor. Call you doctor right away if you develop blisters or a red rash in addition to skin peeling.


Never take Accutane if you are pregnant or may become pregnant. Taking even one dose of Accutane during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects in your child. For this reason, women using Accutane must also use two forms of birth control at all times.

Do not peel skin from your face or body. Doing so can cause skin damage and increase your risk of infection.