Potential Neurologic Side Effects of Oral Isotretinoin: A Case of Peripheral Neuropathy

Main Article Content

Fahad S. Siddiqui
Benjamin M. Witkoff
Brad Glick


Isotretinoin, Foot Drop, Peripheral Neuropathy


Oral isotretinoin is a well-known, effective medication used in the treatment of severe cystic acne. While efficacious, the potential side effects of isotretinoin are often discussed and may cause concern for patients. Although most side effects of this medication are mild, other more concerning adverse effects have been reported. Of note, isotretinoin has the potential to affect the central nervous system (CNS), causing headaches, pseudotumor cerebri, and fetal CNS malformations. In contrast, the effects on the peripheral nervous system are not well documented. The objective of this case report is to present an instance of oral isotretinoin leading to foot drop in an adolescent patient.


1. Marron S, Tomas-Aragones L, & Boira S. Anxiety, Depression, Quality of Life and Patient Satisfaction in Acne Patients Treated with Oral Isotretinoin. Acta Dermato Venereologica, 2013;93(6), 701–706.

2. Brzezinski P, Borowska K, Chiriac A, et al. Adverse effects of isotretinoin: A large, retrospective review. Dermatologic Therapy, 2017;30(4), e12483.

3. Bigby M, & Stern RS. Adverse reactions to isotretinoin. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 1988;18(3), 543–552.

4. Aydogan K, Karli N. Effects of oral isotretinoin therapy on peripheral nerve functions: a preliminary study. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2007;32(1):81-84.

5. Danon MJ, Carpenter S, Weiss V, et al. Sensory neuropathy associated long-term etretinate (ET) therapy. Neurology 1986; 36 (Suppl. 1): 321.

6. Altun Y, Inan E. Mid-term oral isotretinoin therapy causes a predominantly sensory demyelinating neuropathy. Ideggyogy Sz. 2019;72(5-6):159-164.

7. Chroni E, et al. Short‐term oral isotretinoin therapy does not cause clinical or subclinical peripheral neuropathy. Jounral of Dermatological Treatment. 2006; 17(1):6-8.

8. Pritchard J, Appleton R, Howard R, et al. Guillain-Barré syndrome seen in users of isotretinoin. BMJ. 2004;328(7455), 1537.

9. Yamaji S, Kanamori H, Mishima A, et al. All-trans retinoic acid-induced multiple mononeuropathies. Am J Hematol. 1999 Apr;60(4):311. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-8652(199904)60:4<311::aid-ajh11>3.0.co;2-r. PMID: 10203107.

Most read articles by the same author(s)