Low-dose oral isotretinoin for moderate to severe seborrhea and seborrheic dermatitis: a randomized comparative trial

Int J Dermatol. 2017 Jan;56(1):80-85. doi: 10.1111/ijd.13408. Epub 2016 Oct 25.


Background: The efficacy of low-dose oral isotretinoin in the treatment of seborrhea and seborrheic dermatitis has been poorly investigated in randomized studies.

Objectives: This study was designed to determine the efficacy and safety of low-dose oral isotretinoin in the treatment of moderate to severe seborrhea and seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp and/or face.

Methods: A randomized, comparative clinical trial, using two groups, was conducted over 6 months. Patients in Group ISO were treated with isotretinoin 10 mg every other day. In Group X, patients received antiseborrheic topical treatment. Patient opinion, investigator assessment, scalp pruritus, sebum production, and quality of life (QoL) comprised the efficacy outcomes.

Results: The intention-to-treat population comprised a total of 45 patients with mean ± standard deviation ages of 28.7 ± 5.8 years in Group ISO and 29.8 ± 6.5 years in Group X. The rate of sebum production significantly decreased in Group ISO. Patient opinion, investigator, and QoL assessments improved in both groups.

Conclusions: Low-dose oral isotretinoin can be a therapeutic modality for moderate to severe seborrhea and seborrheic dermatitis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Ophthalmic
  • Adult
  • Dermatitis, Seborrheic / complications
  • Dermatitis, Seborrheic / drug therapy*
  • Dermatitis, Seborrheic / metabolism
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Facial Dermatoses / complications
  • Facial Dermatoses / drug therapy*
  • Facial Dermatoses / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isotretinoin / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pruritus / etiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Scalp Dermatoses / complications
  • Scalp Dermatoses / drug therapy*
  • Scalp Dermatoses / metabolism
  • Sebum / metabolism
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Young Adult


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Isotretinoin