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Side Effects
Serious

Severe headache, liver damage, eye lesions, joint pain, abnormal spinal bone growth, rigidity, violent shivering associated with chills and fever. Call your doctor as soon as possible.
Common

Dry mouth, dryness and cracking of the lips, runny nose, nosebleeds, skin peeling, hair loss, dry skin, nail problems, itching, rash, increased sensitivity to touch, numbness or tingling, inflammation of fingers or toes, sticky skin, dry eyes, irritation of eyes, loss of eyebrows and eyelashes.
Less Common

Bleeding gums, increased saliva, thirst, inflammation of the mouth, abnormal skin odor, blisters, cold and clammy skin, increased sweating, skin infection, ulcerations, sunburn, abnormal or blurred vision, reduced night vision, joint pain, back pain, muscle pain, mild headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, odd taste in mouth, ringing in ears, depression, insomnia.
Acitretin


Drug Class:
Retinoid

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: No

Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Capsules

Why Prescribed
To treat severe psoriasis. Acitretin is used only when other medications to treat psoriasis prove ineffective.

How It Works
The exact mechanism of action of acitretin is unknown. It appears to establish a more normal pattern of growth and shedding of skin cells.

Range and Frequency
To start, 25 mg once a day. A maintenance dose, given after the initial response to therapy, is 25 to 50 mg once a day. If the response to the drug is unsatisfactory after four weeks and there are minimal side effects, the dose may be increased by your doctor, depending on your condition and body weight.

Onset of Effect
It may take two to three months to attain the full therapeutic benefit of acitretin.

Duration of Action
Unknown.

Dietary Advice
Acitretin is best taken with the main meal of the day.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Missed Dose
Take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosage schedule. Do not double the next dose.

Stopping the Drug
You should take it as prescribed for the full treatment period, but you may stop taking the drug before the scheduled end of therapy if the symptoms have sufficiently resolved. Consult your doctor.

Prolonged Use
Acitretin is generally prescribed for one-month periods. See your doctor regularly for tests and examinations to assess the effectiveness and safety of the drug.

Over 60
Adverse reactions may be more likely and more severe in older patients.

Driving and Hazardous Work
Do not drive or engage in hazardous work until you determine how the medicine affects you.

Alcohol
Avoid alcohol during and for two months after completing therapy.

Pregnancy
Acitretin can cause serious birth defects. Before your doctor will prescribe it, you must sign a waiver agreeing to use contraceptive measures for one month prior to therapy and three years afterward. You must receive a negative result on a pregnancy test within one week of beginning treatment.

Breast Feeding
Acitretin may pass into breast milk and cause serious harm. Do not nurse while taking this medication.

Infants and Children
No studies have been done with children, although it is believed that acitretin could adversely affect growth.

Special Concerns
You may experience increased sensitivity to contact lenses while taking acitretin. If it causes increased sensitivity to sunlight, wear protective clothing, use sun block, and try to avoid exposure to sunlight. Do not donate blood while you take acitretin and for three years afterward. Many patients will experience a relapse and require further treatment after they stop taking acitretin.

Overdose Symptoms
No cases of overdose have been reported.

What to Do
An overdose of acitretin is unlikely to be life-threatening. However, if someone takes a much larger dose than prescribed, call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately.

Drug Interactions
Other drugs may interact with acitretin. Consult your doctor if you are taking vitamin A, any other retinoid, or methotrexate. Also tell your doctor if you are taking any other prescription or over-the-counter drug.

Food Interactions
No known food interactions.

Disease Interactions
Consult your doctor for advice if you have diabetes mellitus, liver disease, or any other medical condition.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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