Generic name: alitretinoin (a-li-TRET-i-noin)
Drug class: Miscellaneous topical agents
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 31, 2021.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Dermatological Agent
Chemical Class: Retinoid
Uses for alitretinoin
Alitretinoin is used as a topical treatment for cutaneous AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma in cases when there is no need for oral or intravenous medication.
Alitretinoin is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using alitretinoin
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For alitretinoin, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to alitretinoin or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Studies of alitretinoin have been done only in adult patients, and there is no specific information comparing the use of alitretinoin in children with use in other age groups.
Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing the use of alitretinoin in the elderly with use in other age groups.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of alitretinoin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma—May be more likely to experience side effects of alitretinoin gel.
Proper use of alitretinoin
Avoid the use of occlusive dressings
The dose of alitretinoin will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of alitretinoin. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For topical dosage form (gel):
- For cutaneous Kaposi's sarcoma:
- Adults—Apply a generous amount to the affected area of the skin two times day, or as directed by your doctor, and allow to dry for three to five minutes before covering with clothing.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For cutaneous Kaposi's sarcoma:
If you miss a dose of alitretinoin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Precautions while using alitretinoin
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that alitretinoin is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.
Alitretinoin increases the sensitivity of the treated areas of your skin to sunlight or sun lamps. Therefore, exposure to the sun, even through window glass or on a cloudy day, could cause a serious burn.
Avoid application of the gel to normal skin surrounding the lesions or to mucous membranes
Alitretinoin side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- Abrasion of skin
- blisters on skin
- burning pain
- cracking, crusting, drainage, or oozing of the skin
- groove in the skin
- peeling of skin
- severe rash
- skin redness
- sloughing of skin
- swelling at the site of application
- Stinging or tingling of skin
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Increased sensitivity to the sun
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about alitretinoin topical
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- En Español
- Drug class: miscellaneous topical agents
- Other brands
Related treatment guides
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.