Generic Name: Acitretin Brand Name(s): Acitretin.

Uses

What is acitretin used for?

Acitretin is commonly used to treat psoriasis and other skin disorders in adults.

How should I take acitretin?

Take this medication by mouth exactly as prescribed, usually once a day with your main meal.

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy. Do not take this more often or increase your dose without consulting your doctor. Your condition will not improve any faster but the risk of side effects may increase.

It may take 2 to 3 months before the full benefit of this medication is seen.

Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. Remember to use it at the same time each day.

How do I store acitretin?

Acitretin is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store acitretin in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of acitretin that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush acitretin down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using acitretin?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of acitretin or other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
  • You are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • You have any of these health problems: High cholesterol, kidney disease, or liver disease.
  • You are taking any of these drugs: Demeclocycline, doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline, a product that has vitamin A in it, a product that is like vitamin A, or St. John’s wort.
  • You are taking methotrexate.

Tell all of your health care providers that you take acitretin. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.

Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert or have clear eyesight until you see how this medicine affects you.

It may take a few months to see the full effect.

If you have high blood sugar (diabetes), acitretin may sometimes raise blood sugar. Talk with your doctor about how to keep your blood sugar under control.

Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.

Have a bone density test as you have been told by your doctor. Talk with your doctor.

Skin may look worse before it looks better.

You may get sunburned more easily. Avoid sun, sunlamps, and tanning beds. Use sunscreen and wear clothing and eyewear that protects you from the sun.

Lowered night eyesight may happen. Use care at night when driving or doing other tasks that call for clear eyesight. Keep work space well lit.

This medicine may cause a very bad and sometimes deadly problem called capillary leak syndrome (CLS). CLS may lead to low blood pressure and harm to the body. It may also lead to a heartbeat that is not normal, chest pain or pressure, heart attack, lung or breathing problems, bleeding or lower blood flow in the stomach or bowel, kidney problems, swelling, or feeling confused. Talk with the doctor.

Raised pressure in the brain has happened with this medicine. This can cause long lasting loss of eyesight and sometimes death. Call your doctor right away if you have a bad headache, dizziness, upset stomach or throwing up, or seizures. Call your doctor right away if you have weakness on 1 side of the body, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance, or change in eyesight.

If you are 65 or older, use acitretin with care. You could have more side effects.

Do not use progestin-only birth control pills (minipills). They may not work well. Talk with your doctor.

If you have sex without using 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust, if you think you may be pregnant, or if you miss your period, call your doctor right away.

Men: Talk with your doctor before you drink alcohol.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using acitretin during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking acitretin. Acitretin is pregnancy risk category X, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Side effects

What side effects can occur from acitretin?

Side effects may occur when using this drug, such as:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Signs of low mood (depression), thoughts of killing yourself, nervousness, emotional ups and downs, thinking that is not normal, anxiety, or lack of interest in life
  • Signs of high blood sugar like confusion, feeling sleepy, more thirst, more hungry, passing urine more often, flushing, fast breathing, or breath that smells like fruit
  • Mean actions or thoughts of fighting
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Very bad dizziness or passing out
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal
  • Swelling, warmth, numbness, change of color, or pain in a leg or arm
  • Very bad muscle pain or weakness
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Change in eyesight, eye pain, or very bad eye irritation
  • Change in how contact lenses feel in the eyes
  • Change in hearing
  • Ringing in ears
  • Fever
  • Swelling
  • Weight gain
  • Stomach pain
  • Very loose stools (diarrhea)
  • Bleeding from rectum or rectal pain
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly pancreas problems (pancreatitis) have happened with acitretin. This could happen at any time during care. Signs of pancreatitis include very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very upset stomach or throwing up. Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs.
  • Lowered night eyesight may happen. This may be sudden. This may clear up after you stop the drug but sometimes it may not go away.
  • A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with acitretin?

Acitretin may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with acitretin?

Acitretin may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with acitretin?

Acitretin may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using acitretin.

What is the dose of acitretin for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Psoriasis

Initial dose: 25 to 50 mg orally once a day, administered as a single dose with main meal.

Maintenance dose: 25 to 50 mg orally once a day, administered upon an individual patient’s response to initial treatment.

What is the dose of acitretin for a child?

The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is acitretin available?

Acitretin is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Tablet

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of acitretin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: September 13, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2017

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