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    iPledge for Isotretinoin Users: What Should You Know About This Program?

    iPledge is a computer-based program, where any patient in the United States, regardless of gender or age, should register before using Accutane or any other medication containing isotretinoin. The program was designed for both patients and medical workers, and its main goal is to prevent women from getting pregnant while taking isotretinoin.

    Isotretinoin and Pregnancy

    Isotretinoin comes with a range of serious side effects, including severe and even life-threatening birth defects, as well as the risk of miscarriage and premature birth.

    The use of this anti-acne medication during pregnancy may result in abnormalities of the face, eyes, ears, skull, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and thymus and parathyroid glands of the baby.

    It is important to keep in mind that even a single dose of isotretinoin can be extremely dangerous for an unborn child and cause unpreventable harm.

    Isotretinoin and iPledge Program

    The iPledge program is a product of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created to avoid the risks of potential birth defects and other pregnancy-related adverse reactions of isotretinoin drugs by reducing the chance of fetal exposure to the medicine. This is done through a special system of checks and balances.

    Registration in the iPledge program is obligatory for everyone using isotretinoin, no matter what their age or gender is. The same applies to doctors prescribing the medication, as well as pharmacies dispensing it.

    Before prescribing you isotretinoin, your dermatologist must give you the full information about the use, the risks and potential side effects of the drug. Besides, you will receive all the instructions regarding the iPledge program. Before receiving the prescription, you have to make sure you understand and agree to all terms of the program.

    iPledge Qualification Requirements

    Getting informed about isotretinoin and all the possible side effects it may cause is the first step of the iPledge program. In order to be able to receive the medication, you will have to meet certain requirements for iPledge program qualification. These requirements include using two methods of contraception or restraining from sexual activity during the treatment course, visiting a doctor once a month, submitting to regular blood tests as needed, and, for women of childbearing potential, having negative pregnancy tests each month.

    As soon as you are enrolled in the program, you will receive an iPledge ID card. The identification number provided in the card is needed each time you get the medication from the dispensary.

    Isotretinoin is normally given in doses enough to last only one month. You will have to meet certain criteria each month later on, in order to get your refill. You will also have monthly appointments with your doctor, where your information will be entered into the iPledge system and your negative pregnancy test will be verified.

    Before dispensing isotretinoin, your pharmacist is also obliged to verify that you meet all the criteria. This is done via the iPledge system website or over the phone. The pharmacist can only give you the medication once he obtains authorization.

    Besides, according to the iPledge, your prescription can be picked up with a certain time frame. Women of childbearing potential missing the pick-up deadline have to go through the monthly qualification procedure once again.

    iPledge Criticism

    The iPledge program has already been criticised by some patients and doctors considering the program and its qualification requirements too cumbersome and difficult to adhere. Besides, there are patients viewing the monthly pregnancy test requirement as a potential disruption of their privacy.

    Moreover, some patient privacy concerns have also taken place due to the fact it is still quite unclear how exactly patient data is stored in the iPledge database.

    To sum up, although there are certain concerns and criticism regarding the iPledge program, the rules remain the same: anyone taking isotretinoin is required to register and submit to this monitoring. Besides, the program has actually shown to be effective in preventing birth defects and other serious side effects caused by isotretinoin.


    What Really Causes Acne: 6 Common Myths

    Such a skin disorder as acne can be a huge problem for many people, especially teenagers. However, acne is not limited just to those going through their puberty period. Many adults, children, and even babies can be prone to acne as well.

    Simply put, acne is a disorder of the hair follicle when oil and dead skin cells become trapped within the pore. The condition is characterized by the presence of pimples, blackheads or whiteheads spread over the face, neck, chest, back, and upper arms.

    Since there is no precise cause of the disease, there are numerous misconceptions regarding acne causes and development. A lot of things we believe to cause acne are actually myths. We have gathered the most common of them illustrating what’s true and what’s not to help you understand acne better.

    Myth #1: Not cleansing your skin causes acne.

    Lack of hygiene does not cause acne. As mentioned earlier, acne is the hair follicle disorder resulting from the combination of several factors, such as excess oil, dead skin cells, abnormal shedding of the skin, and certain bacteria.

    And since acne is not caused by lack of cleansing, you cannot cure it by frequent cleansing, either.

    Myth #2: Chocolate, pizza, and French fries can cause acne.

    There is no evidence for the relation between acne and diet. Eating chocolate, pizza, or French fries, even if it is unhealthy, will not cause it.

    In fact, acne breakouts are rather influenced by bacteria, than food. Propionibacteria acnes (P. acnes) are the bacteria responsible for inflamed acne breakouts. When the number of bacteria in the follicles grows out of control, it results in redness, inflammation and the formation of pus.

    Myth #3: Blackheads are the result of dirt trapped in the pore.

    This is a common mistake: the black top of a blackhead is not dirt.

    A blackhead, a more common name for an open comedo, is an accretion of dead skin cells and sebum forming a plug in the pore. The top of this comedo is not covered by the layer of dead skin cells. When exposed to the air, this oil impaction changes color to dark brown or black, due to a chemical reaction.

    Therefore, you cannot wash blackheads away. However, using some over-the-counter products with salicylic acid, or prescription medications like topical retinoid may help to remove them, and prevent them from forming, too. In addition to that, blackheads can also be safely extracted during facials.

    Accutane, a decent representative of the category, is a highly effective anti-acne agent used in serious and moderate forms of acne. The drug comes in the form of capsules, it’s a non-invasive treatment option that can be used as an alternative in those cases where other meds are useless.

    Myth #4: Masturbation or having sex cause acne.

    This hypothesis is rather one of the tricks parents would use to prevent their youngsters from having sexual relationships.

    In fact, acne development has nothing to do with your sexual activity. It’s worth mentioning that having sex will not cure your acne either.

    Myth #5: You cause acne by touching your face.

    You might have heard this many times, but it is actually a myth. Touching your face with hands might be unhygienic since your fingers are not likely to be super clean all the time. However, this will not cause acne development.

    Hormones, excess dead skin cells, bacteria in the pores are the ones to blame. And even if you stop touching your face forever, you will still break out in pimples if you are prone to acne.

    Myth #6: Acne is contagious.

    As mentioned several times before, there are certain factors “required” for acne development: retaining of dead skin cells within the pore, excess oil and acne-causing bacteria. None of these can be caught from someone else.

    Therefore, you will definitely not get acne by shaking hands, touching or kissing someone with acne.