Acitretin is a derivative of vitamin A. It is used to treat severe psoriasis and other skin disorders. Acitretin reduces the speed at which the cells involved in psoriasis are formed. It may take 2 to 3 months before the full benefit of acitretin is seen.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that involves chronically occurring bright red patches covered with silvery scales. It cannot be passed from one person to another.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
Each brown and white, hard gelatin capsule (No. 4) with "ACTAVIS" in black lettering contains acitretin 10 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: gelatin, glucose (liquid, spray-dried), microcrystalline cellulose, and sodium ascorbate; gelatin capsule shell: iron oxide (yellow, black, and red) and titanium dioxide.
Each brown and yellow, hard gelatin capsule (No. 1) with "ACTAVIS" in black lettering contains acitretin 25 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: gelatin, glucose (liquid, spray-dried), microcrystalline cellulose, and sodium ascorbate; gelatin capsule shell: iron oxide (yellow, black, and red) and titanium dioxide.
The recommended starting dose of acitretin is 25 mg once daily. If the desired effect has not been seen after 4 weeks and side effects have been tolerated, your doctor may increase the dose to 50 mg once daily. The maximum dose is 75 mg once a day.
Acitretin should be taken once daily with food or just after a meal.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Do not take acitretin if you:
A woman capable of becoming pregnant must not take acitretin unless ALL of the following criteria are met:
Acitretin must not be taken by pregnant women. As well, women must not become pregnant while taking acitretin and should use effective birth control for at least 3years after stopping this medication. Women should not breast-feed while taking acitretin or for 3 years after stopping the medication.
Alcohol must not be consumed while taking acitretin and for 2 months after stopping the treatment.
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
When acitretin is first started, you may experience more redness, itching, skin scaling, peeling, and dry skin for the first month as your body adjusts to the medication. This will normally fade as treatment continues. It is important that you see your doctor regularly (preferably once a month) and report any side effects that become bothersome.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
Although most of the side effects listed below don’t happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
Before you begin taking a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should take this medication.
Alcohol: Alcohol must not be consumed while taking acitretin and for 2 months after stopping the treatment. This includes alcohol in foods, drinks, and medicines.
Benign intracranial hypertension: Acitretin has been known to cause a condition called benign intracranial hypertension. Contact your doctor if you experience headaches, nausea and vomiting, or changes in vision.
Blood donation: Do not donate blood while taking acitretin and for at least 3 years after your last dose of acitretin, as your blood should not be given to pregnant women.
Cholesterol: Acitretin has been found to cause an increase in cholesterol and other lipids in the blood. You are more likely to experience this if you are already at an increased risk of developing high cholesterol, for example if you have diabetes or a family history of high cholesterol, are overweight, or have an increased alcohol intake.
If you are at any increased risk of developing increased blood lipids, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Contact lenses: If you wear contact lenses, you may find them uncomfortable during and after treatment with acitretin due to dry eyes.
Decreased night vision: Acitretin may cause decreased night vision. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery at night until you know how this medication affects you.
Depression and suicidal thoughts: Retinoid medications have been known to cause mood swings and symptoms of depression. If you have depression or a history of depression, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. If you experience symptoms of depression such as poor concentration, changes in weight, changes in sleep, or decreased interest in activities, or notice them in a family member who is taking this medication, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Diabetes: Acitretin can cause changes in glucose tolerance for people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Excessive bone growth: Long-term use of acitretin may lead to excessive bone growth or unusual bone formation. Your doctor may request that you have yearly X-rays to monitor for bone changes.
Liver function: Retinoids like acitretin have been linked to inflammation of the liver in some cases. If you have liver problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication.
If you experience symptoms of liver problems such as fatigue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools, abdominal pain or swelling, and itchy skin, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Stomach and bowels: Other retinoid medications have occasionally caused inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). If you have inflammatory bowel disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
If you experience severe abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or severe diarrhea, you should stop using this medication and contact your doctor.
Sun sensitivity: Acitretin may make you more likely to burn in the sun. Use appropriate measures to prevent excessive exposure to the sun. Wear a hat and sunglasses when out in the sun, use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and avoid going out in the sun between 10 am and 2 pm when the sun is at its strongest. Avoid using sun lamps and tanning beds.
Women capable of becoming pregnant: See "Who should not take this medication?"
Pregnancy: Acitretin can cause birth defects. This medication must not be taken during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking acitretin, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking acitretin, it may affect your baby. Breast-feeding mothers must not take this medication.
Children: The safety and efficacy of using this medication have not been established for children.
There may be an interaction between acitretin and any of the following:
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.
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