B5 and Accutane – My Theory – Inhibit Biotin = Less Acne

I used to megadose B5 to control my acne and oily skin. I was on it off and on for around 4 years and found it to be very good, so good in fact that I’d go as far as to call it a cure as it completely stopped my sebum production on my skin.

Two side effects occured though, an increase in sensitivity to heat and therefore sweating and hair loss. I tried combatting these by adding a B complex but to my horrow my oily skin and acne returned whenever I started taking a B complex! I quickly dropped the B complex and my skin gradually returned to normal, so I started looked for an alternative.

I thought I’d try dosing the B vitamins individually with the B5 to see which one caused the oily skin to return. I started with Biotin as it’s been said to help hair loss. A few days after taking Biotin my oily skin and acne returned once more!

In the end I just continued megadosing B5 until a hot summer took it’s toll on my temperature sensitivity and sweating and I stopped taking B5 altogether.

When my acne returned I tried experimenting with Soy, Green Tea, etc but with little success so I’ve finally turned to Accutane to try and control my oily skin and acne. It’s only been a few days but hopefully it will work as well as the B5 did without the same side effects.


So based upon the above information, my theory … Generally it’s not really understood exactly how Accutane stops oil production, and likewise how B5 does the same. There was the initial study done by Dr. Leung on B5 but there’s been nothing since, and even with Accutane there isn’t really anything conclusive as to how it works.

What I am interested in is that I’ve researched that B5 can result in Biotin uptake from the intestines being blocked, so basically you’ll become deficient in Biotin when megadosing B5. I was also interested to read that, while Accutane does not lower Biotin levels, it inhibits the body’s ability to use Biotin.


"Pantothenic acid: High-doses of pantothenic acid can lead to malabsorption of biotin in the gut, and can lower levels of biotin in the body."

"Isotretinoin (Accutane): May reduce biotinidase activity. It is not clear if biotin supplementation may be warranted during chronic use."

It is therefore my theory that both B5 and Accutane reduce sebum production due to their lowering or inhibition of Biotin in the body. This theory is in part backed up with my experience where when taking B5 and I added Biotin supplements to my regime my oily skin and acne returned.


"Initial symptoms of biotin deficiency include:
1.Dry skin"


Related Acne Archive Posts & Questions

12 thoughts on “B5 and Accutane – My Theory – Inhibit Biotin = Less Acne

  1. I tried the B5 and it helped but not that much then my body couldn’t take anymore high doses of this vitamin. (my stomach bloated so I figured something was wrong) I then turned to accutane 3 years ago and my skin has never been oily again. 🙂

  2. Has anyone got any further comments regarding this? I started a similar thread on Acne . org and it’s a slow start but there is some interest in this theory. To add further weight to this theory, Raw Egg White contains a chemical called Avidin which when uncooked binds to Biotin rendering it inactive. One of the common side effects of consuming too many Raw Egg Whites (mainly done by people weight training as a source of protein) is that they can suffer with dry skin.

    This to me reinforces a Biotin reduction / Sebum reduction link. Also Accutane and B5 both have been said to cause hair loss, another side effect of Biotin deficiency.


  3. I want to point out here that I don’t have any science or medical background at all. That being said, I’m going to try and stumble through this topic as best as I can.

    It sounds like you’re theorizing that excess biotin can cause acne by stimulating sebum production or that at least there’s a connection between levels of biotin in the body and sebum production (less biotin equating to less sebum production). I want to point out that "dry skin" does not necessarily mean a lack of oil in the skin, but a lack of moisture which can be from causes other than reduction in sebum production. Usually when some element causes dry skin it also causes dry hair and dry brittle nails. Also, I’ve known people with very oily skin who did not have any acne because sebum is only one factor in the acne process. As long as the oil is flowing through the pores freely then there isn’t a problem.

    Have you read Dr. Leung’s study on B-5 and acne? You can read it at http://www.coenzyme-a.com/acne_vulgaris.html . In this study he discusses how ingesting Vit. B-12 by itself or with Vit. B-6 can flare up acne if one is deficient in them to begin with. Here’s a quote from his study about this:

    To illustrate this, there are reports showing that acne may be induced by administration of large doses of vitamin B12 alone or in combination with B6. Cessation of the administration of these vitamins will bring a halt to the acne eruptions. If the body is in a relative deficiency state in B6 and B12, administration of the vitamins will enhance the reactions that involve the participation of these vitamins. This will set up a chain of events, some of which entail the participation of pantothenic acid. With the total pantothenic acid pool fixed relative to an increase in other vitamins, emphasis of any reaction involving pantothenic acid will automatically mean a cutting back on other reactions that require it as a coenzyme. This will often include those involving lipid metabolism, resulting in a certain degree of deficiency in that metabolic process, hence the increased incidence of acne vulgaris in these studies.

    He also said that he believed that biotin and nicotinamide (a form of Vit. B-3) may help B-5 to work better to clear acne. Here’s a quote from the same section entitled "Deficiency Syndromes" (I added the bolding):

    In linking the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris to a deficiency in lipid metabolism and pantothenic acid, it is worthwhile to remember that fatty acid metabolism is not the sole domain of pantothenic acid. There are some other essential dietary factors that are also of importance in the same process. Together they form a system that will make the whole metabolic process as efficient as possible. Preliminary studies by the author suggest that, together with pantothenic acid, biotin as well as nicotinamide help to further improve the therapeutic results. By themselves alone, they are far less effective in helping acne patients than with pantothenic acid, and this serves to support the suggestion that pantothenic acid plays a central role in lipid metabolism.

    I’m wondering if taking biotin in very high amounts when one is deficient in biotin to begin with, though, could cause a similar situation to taking B-12 and B-6 in high amounts, wherein it stimulates processes to occur that use up one’s store of B-5, etc. You might be able to find an e-mail address for Dr. Leung somewhere on the Internet. There was someone on an acne board somewhere who was in e-mail communication with Dr. Leung. He may be overwhelmed by e-mails at this point though, considering how popular the B-5 treatment for acne has become.

  4. I don’t have a science or medical background either but my research of various sites on the internet has led me to this conclusion and I still believe it is the correct one.

    I’ve taken both B5 and Accutane for some time. Both have worked for me, both have produced similar side effects, although Accutanes retinoid action has produced additional ones. Both have also been linked to causing a Biotin related deficiency in studies and I can find no other common link.

    What I’m not sure of at the moment is whether excess Biotin is the cause of Acne and oily skin, but what I’m fairly sure of is creating a deficiency of Biotin is how B5 and Accutane prevent sebum production. I’ve read that the sebaceous glands need Biotin for healthy functioning. Therefore creating a Biotin deficiency means that the sebaceous glands will shrink so can’t produce sebum anymore.

    I understand what you’re saying regarding dryness being related to moisture and not only sebum, but that’s one of the things that sebum does. It helps the skin to retain it’s moisture balance. If you completely remove sebum from the skins surface the skin can no longer remain moisturised.

    Ultimately I know from personal experience that if I take B5 at a dose of 10g per day and add Biotin supplements or any multivitamin / b complex that contains biotin my skin becomes oily again. I can consistently recreate this effect and many people on other boards have noticed a similar pattern.


  5. I think that it is possible for the skin to be moist without sebum, as with children whose oil glands haven’t kicked in yet. Still, without sebum, there’s no acne either, that’s true. Dr. James E. Fulton, Jr. wrote about men who had been castrated before puberty and said that their skin was always smooth like a child’s skin and that they would never get acne. Now talk about an extreme prevention strategy! (Just kidding…). It doesn’t seem like a very good idea to me, though, to treat acne by causing a deficiency in any important nutrient. That could lead to other serious health problems. According to Dr. Leung, though, biotin actually helps with fatty acid metabolism, such that a deficiency of it would cause more sebum, not less. According to his study, poor fatty acid metabolism leads to more sebum and more acne:

    The author’s proposed hypothesis for the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris is that the disease process is not caused by androgens, or any other sex hormones, but rather, the disease process results from a defect in lipid metabolism that is secondary to a deficiency in pantothenic acid, hence Coenzyme-A. Coenzyme-A, in carrying out its function efficiently both as an agent in fatty acid metabolism and an agent in androgen and sex hormone synthesis, has to be present in sufficient amounts, and anything less than sufficient will result in some compromise.

    Mother Nature’s Choice

    Faced with the dilemma of a shortage of Coenzyme-A the body will tend to make a choice that is to the best advantage of the individual. The body does so by largely maintaining the functionally more important reaction, while at the same time slowing down the lesser important one. The choice here is a relatively simple one. Nature will seek to take care of the synthesis of hormones first, because continuation of the species depends on the development of the sex organs. Fatty acid metabolism is, for the time being, at least in part halted. Lipids start to accumulate in the sebaceous glands, sebum excretion is increased, and acne begins to appear. When there is enough Coenzyme-A in the body, however, both reactions will be well taken care of. There are enough sex hormones for the sex organs to develop. The lipids in the sebaceous glands are completely metabolized by sufficient Coenzyme-A, and there will be no unwanted lipid in the glands and little sebum will be excreted to cause acne vulgaris.

    That doesn’t fit in with what your theory, unless taking more biotin when one is deficient in biotin to begin with could lower levels of B-5 in one’s body in an analogous fashion as he describes with B-12 and B-6 (as described in my previous post). Maybe you can contact Dr. Leung somehow about this and get his take on it. It’s all quite complex.

  6. I’ve thought about contacting Dr Leung regarding this, but without any hard scientific evidence he’s not going to be too impressed with my theory as it means he’d have to admit he was completely wrong about his theory which I doubt he’s going to do because I’ve come up with this Biotin theory.

    There was a direct correlation in my body when megadosing on B5. If I took Biotin or a B complex containing Biotin my oily skin would return. Others have seen similar issues. When I see posts from people mentioning they’ve been on B5 for a long time with no results I often suggest dropping the B complex. To their amazement they soon start seeing better results once not taking the B complex.

    I started off on the B complex while taking B5 and it caused my oily skin to come back. I decided to try taking the B vitamins seperately to see which out of the B complex caused my oily skin to return. It wasn’t until I started taking Biotin that my oily skin came back.


  7. I understand that that is what happened for you, so you need to stay away from the biotin supplements. I’m wondering if those particular biotin supplements could have had any other ingredients in them that could have caused a flare-up (like excipients, etc.) I still have a lot of concerns about taking such high mega doses of B-5 though. No one knows for sure what the long term effects might be.

    It still seems like a very bad idea, though, to induce biotin deficiency just to get the effect of dry skin. I got this list of health problems that could result from biotin deficiency from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biotin :

    Initial symptoms of biotin deficiency include:

    Dry skin
    Seborrheic dermatitis
    Fungal infections
    Rashes including erythematous periorofacial macular rash
    Fine and brittle hair
    Hair loss or total alopecia

    If left untreated, neurological symptoms can develop, including:

    Mild depression, which may progress to profound lassitude and, eventually, to somnolence
    Changes in mental status
    Generalized muscular pains (myalgias)
    Hyperesthesias and paresthesias

    The treatment for biotin deficiency is to simply start taking some biotin supplements.

  8. I’m not trying to say that B5 megadosing, or Accutane for that matter is good to take long term. I’m just theorising as to the scientific action of both things in preventing oily skin by reducing or stopping sebum and causing a Biotin related deficiency seems to be the most appropriate theory at the moment based upon personal experience and that gathered from other forum and message board members.

    The B complex I initially tried taking contained various vitamins, Biotin included. At the time I didn’t know Biotin was the cause but I found that my oily skin returned.

    I took NOW Foods Biotin supplements after being back on B5 alone for a while, which as far as I can remember were fairly pure so I’m certain it was the Biotin itself.


  9. I understand what you’re saying. It’s an interesting theory, but I have no idea if it is scientifically valid or not since I am just a lay person, and not a very scientifically schooled one at that. Basically, I’m clueless. I wish you the best on your path to healing and to clear skin.

  10. I’ve been reading this forum for a while. On my journey to clean skin I have tried almost anything I could get (except accutane).

    Regarding this very interesting (and logical) theory, I would say a few things
    1. every time I start working out in gym, I drink liquid amino-acids and I get a few small acne and a few blackheads, due to B6 & B12 vitamins in amino-acid drink
    2. mega dosing B5 is good to cut oil-production, reduced pore size can be noticed in about a week from starting B5 treatment, but I see some hair loss and I don’t like that; I was reading about hair-grow and biotin is mentioned as one of the key ingredients for healthy hair.
    3. I use avene face wash, it is very good, vichy products are pretty expensive but not good for my skin
    4. I was thinking lately that it is time to go on accutane, since my skin is like roller coaster, it gets perfect, then I get acne-attack. It may sound strange but I think it is linked with hormones in my body, I am male, but every month from 15-20day I get oily skin and a few acne. New skin cells are created every 28 days, so I guess this would be kind-of-period.

    my post is a little bit confusing, I tried to lay down thoughts that are in my mind about this…
    I don’t care much about study-proof, I believe that everyone of us, know own body, you can see what fits you and what is bad.
    Chocolate & fries DOES aggravate acne, and if doctor tell you opposite, "just send them to me", I will prove in few hours – one day, after eating chocolate I break out.

    Keep up with this very good discussion.

  11. I’ve been reading these forums for a few days and several posts have sparked my interest in a product called SkinB5.
    This particular product supplements their B5 with Biotin – I assume they’ve calculated the right amount so that the two can work in tandum.

    I also looked at Vitamin A on their ingredients list. I may have a faulty memory, but I thought I recalled someone telling me that too much Vitamin A was a huge no no for the human body.

    Sooo, I looked up the maximum safe intake the human body is allowed of Vitamin A: 9900 IU
    and I saw what Skin B5 dosage contains daily for Vitamin A: 24813 IU.

    That’s… considerably more than is healthy.

    I’m dissapointed because Skin B5 seemed like the perfect product. But I know the effects of vitamin overdose are terrible and Not worth it.

    There’s my imput. Hope it’s worth it. (though it probably sounds silly, I’ve just introduced a product and then refuted it. not very productive)

  12. Ive ordered some b5, is that bad, im only planning to use it for 3 months, then retreat to regular antibiotics. Is this a good idea?

Comments are closed.