It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Using this medicine while you are pregnant can cause very serious birth defects. You must use two forms of birth control together for 1 month before starting this medicine, for the entire time that you are being treated with this medicine, and for 3 years after you take your last dose of this medicine. You will need to have two negative pregnancy tests to be sure that you are not pregnant before you start using this medicine. You will also need to have pregnancy tests every month during treatment, and every 3 months for 3 years after you stop taking the medicine. If you think you have become pregnant while using this medicine, stop taking it and call your doctor right away.
Do not use methotrexate (Rheumatrex®, Trexall®) or a tetracycline medicine to treat an infection (such as doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline, Minocin®, or Vibramycin®) while you are using this medicine. Using these medicines together may cause unwanted side effects.
Do not take other medicines without checking first with your doctor. This includes vitamins, herbal products, prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines. Some of these medicines or nutritional supplements (e.g., St. John's wort) may make your birth control pills not work.
Do not take vitamin A or any supplement containing vitamin A while you are using this medicine, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.
Your skin condition may improve or get worse during the first few weeks of treatment and you also may notice some skin irritation from the medicine. With continued use, the expected skin irritation will lessen after a few weeks. Check with your doctor if the skin irritation becomes worse or if your skin condition does not improve within 8 to 12 weeks.
Women who are able to bear children must avoid all forms of alcohol while they are taking this medicine and for 2 months after they stop. Do not eat foods, drink beverages, or take medicines that contain alcohol. Drinking alcohol will make the medicine remain in the body for an extended period of time and will increase the chance for side effects. If a woman consumes alcohol during acitretin treatment, she should consider delaying a pregnancy for longer than 2 to 3 years. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about this.
Do not donate blood during treatment with acitretin, for 3 years following treatment, or as otherwise directed by your doctor. Women who are able to bear children must not receive blood containing the medicine.
Liver problems may occur while you are using this medicine. Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you are having more than one of these symptoms: abdominal pain or tenderness; clay-colored stools; dark urine; decreased appetite; fever; headache; itching; loss of appetite; nausea and vomiting; skin rash; swelling of the feet or lower legs; unusual tiredness or weakness; or yellow eyes or skin.
Acitretin may cause bone or muscle problems, including joint pain, muscle pain or stiffness, or difficulty moving. You may get hurt more easily during rough sports. You may heal more slowly.
Acitretin may cause blurred vision or a decrease in night vision (night blindness). The night blindness may occur suddenly. Do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are not able to see well. Stop taking the medicine and check with your doctor right away if you have vision changes.
Acitretin may cause dry eyes. Wearing contact lenses may become uncomfortable while using this medicine. To help relieve dry eyes, check with your doctor about using a lubricating solution, such as artificial tears. If severe eye irritation or inflammation occurs, check with your doctor.
Acitretin may cause dryness of the mouth, nose, and throat. For temporary relief of mouth dryness, use sugarless candy or gum, melt bits of ice in your mouth, or use a saliva substitute. However, if dry mouth continues for more than 2 weeks, check with your medical doctor or dentist. Continuing dryness of the mouth may increase the chance of developing dental disease, including tooth decay, gum disease, and fungus infections.
Avoid exposing your skin to wind, cold weather, and sunlight, even on cloudy days. Your skin will be more prone to sunburn, dryness, or irritation, especially during the first 2 or 3 weeks. You should not stop taking this medicine, unless the skin irritation becomes too severe. Do not use a sunlamp or tanning bed. Use sunscreen or sunblock lotions with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 on a regular basis. Wear protective clothing and hats and stay out of direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you should avoid skin products that can irritate the skin. Some examples are:
- Any topical acne product or skin product containing a peeling agent (such as benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, or sulfur).
- Hair products that are irritating, such as permanents or hair removal products.
- Skin products that cause sensitivity to the sun, such as those containing spices or limes.
- Skin products containing a large amount of alcohol, such as astringents, shaving creams, or after-shave lotions.
- Skin products that are too drying or abrasive, such as some cosmetics, soaps, or skin cleansers.
For diabetic patients:
- This medicine may affect blood sugar levels. If you notice a change in the results of your blood or urine sugar tests or if you have any questions, check with your doctor.
Pancreatitis may occur while you are using this medicine. Tell your doctor right away if you have sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness.
Acitretin may cause some people to be agitated, irritable, or display other abnormal behaviors. It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies or to become more depressed. If you or your caregiver notice any of these side effects, check with you doctor right away.