Can taking accutane lead to ulcerative colitis?

April 6, 2018

Isotretinoin, more commonly known by its brand name, Accutane, is a prescription drug used to treat severe acne. Though the medication is helpful to those suffering from acne, some researchers are concerned that there is a possible association between taking the drug and developing ulcerative colitis. A controlled study suggesting a possible association with UC was published in 2010.1 However, the study did not adjust for prior antibiotic use and other risk factors for IBD such as smoking and NSAIDs. Numerous studies have examined and suggested the potential association;2,3 but, at the present time no clear-cut connection has been established.4,5 Regardless, many providers advise patients to be cautious when taking isotretinoin.


1. Crockett SD, Porter CQ, Martin CF, et al. Isotretinoin use and the risk of inflammatory bowel disease: a case-control study. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010;105:1986–93.

        2 .Reddy D, Siegel C, Sands B, et al. Possible association between isotretinoin and inflammatory bowel disease. Am J Gastroenterol 2006;101:1569–1573.

        3. Bernstein C, Nugent Z, Longobardi T, et al. Isotretinoin is not associated with inflammatory bowel disease: A population-based case-controlled study. Am J Gastroenterol 2009; 104:2774–2778; doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.417;

        4. Lee S, Jamal M, Nguyen E, et al. Does exposure to isotretinoin increase the risk for the development of inflammatory bowel disease? Euro J Gastroenterol & Hepatology. 2016;28:210-216.

        5. Rashtak S, Khaleghi S, Pittelkow M, et al. Isotretinoin exposure and risk of inflammatory bowel disease. JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(12):1322-1326. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.1540

        Crohn's & Colitis Foundation

        The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases. The Foundation ranks third among leading health non-profits in the percentage of expense devoted to research toward a cure, with more than 80 cents of every dollar the Foundation spends going to mission-critical programs. The Foundation consistently meets the standards of organizations that monitor charities, including the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance ( and the American Institute of Philanthropy (

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