What is aminolevulinic acid?
Aminolevulinic acid causes skin cells to become more sensitive to certain types of light. Skin cells treated with aminolevulinic acid will die and slough off after being exposed to a special light treatment.
Aminolevulinic acid is used to treat actinic keratosis (warty overgrowths of skin) on the face and scalp. This medicine is used together with a special light treatment, also called photodynamic therapy.
Aminolevulinic acid may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Avoid exposure to sunlight or bright indoor light for at least 40 hours after this medicine is applied to your skin or scalp.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use aminolevulinic acid if you are allergic to it.
To make sure aminolevulinic acid is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia; or
porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).
It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
Do not breast-feed within 12 hours after you are treated with aminolevulinic acid. If you use a breast pump during this time, throw out any milk you collect. Do not feed it to your baby.
How is aminolevulinic acid given?
A healthcare provider will apply this medicine directly to the lesions on your face or scalp. You will not be allowed to apply aminolevulinic acid yourself. The face and scalp may need to be treated in separate sessions if you have actinic keratosis on both areas.
Within 14 to 18 hours after aminolevulinic acid is applied, you must return to your doctor's office to receive a special blue light treatment.
After aminolevulinic acid is applied, keep the treated skin dry. Do not wash the skin while you are waiting for the light treatment.
For at least 40 hours after the medicine is applied, you will need to protect your skin from bright light. Sunscreen will not be effective enough to protect you while this medicine is on your skin or scalp. Avoid exposure to both sunlight and bright indoor light. Wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat when you are outdoors. If you feel stinging or burning of the treated skin, reduce your exposure to light.
The blue light has a low intensity and will not heat your skin. However, you may feel tingling, stinging, prickling, or burning of the skin where aminolevulinic acid was applied. This discomfort is usually temporary.
After light treatment you may have some redness, swelling, and scaling of your lesions and the surrounding skin. These symptoms should go away completely within 4 weeks.
Call your doctor if you have severe skin discomfort, or if you have new or worsening skin problems.
If your actinic keratosis lesions do not clear up completely, you may need to receive a second treatment with aminolevulinic acid and blue light treatment. You should allow at least 8 weeks to pass between treatments.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you cannot return for the blue light treatment within the recommended 14 to 18 hours after aminolevulinic acid was applied. The timing of this medicine and light treatment is extremely important to the success of your treatment.
You may need to reschedule your light treatment appointment if you cannot receive it at the correct time after aminolevulinic acid was applied.
What happens if I overdose?
Since this medicine is applied by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.
What should I avoid while using aminolevulinic acid?
Avoid exposure to sunlight or bright indoor light for at least 40 hours after aminolevulinic acid is applied to your skin or scalp. Wear a hat and clothing that covers your skin. Even if you miss your blue light treatment appointment, you must continue to avoid bright light for 40 hours.
Avoid using other medications on the areas treated with aminolevulinic acid unless your doctor tells you to.
Aminolevulinic acid side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have severe stinging or burning that lasts longer than 4 weeks.
Common side effects may include:
redness or swelling of treated skin;
itching, stinging, tingling, or prickly feeling;
scaling or crusting of the skin; or
changes in the color of treated skin.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Aminolevulinic acid dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Actinic Keratosis:
One application and one dose of illumination per treatment site per 8 week treatment session
Duration of therapy: Treated lesions that have not completely resolved after 8 weeks may be treated a second time.
-Each individual aminolevulinic acid topical solution should be used for only one patient.
-Photodynamic therapy is a two stage process involving application of the product followed 14 to 18 hours later by illumination with blue light using the BLU-U Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy Illuminator.
Use: Treatment of minimally to moderately thick actinic keratoses of the face or scalp
What other drugs will affect aminolevulinic acid?
Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
an antibiotic or sulfa drug;
a diuretic or "water pill";
antipsychotic medication; or
an oral diabetes medicine.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with aminolevulinic acid, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
More about aminolevulinic acid topical
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- En Español
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- Drug class: topical photochemotherapeutics
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your doctor can provide more information about aminolevulinic acid.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.02.
Last reviewed: May 20, 2016
Date modified: January 03, 2018