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Alitretinoin topical Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 20, 2022.


Commonly reported side effects of alitretinoin topical include: pain, pruritus, and skin rash. Other side effects include: exfoliative dermatitis, disorder of integument, and skin edema. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to alitretinoin topical: topical gel/jelly

Side effects requiring immediate medical attention

Along with its needed effects, alitretinoin topical 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 while taking alitretinoin topical:

More common

  • 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

Less common

  • Stinging or tingling of skin

Side effects not requiring immediate medical attention

Some side effects of alitretinoin topical 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:

More common

  • Itching
  • rash

Less common

  • Increased sensitivity to the sun

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to alitretinoin topical: topical gel


The most frequently reported side effects occurred almost exclusively at the application site. Dermal toxicity began as erythema, which could worsen and result in edema with continued use. This toxicity may be treatment-limiting, with intense erythema, edema, and vesiculation. Side effects were typically mild to moderate in severity and led to study withdrawal in 7% of patients. During one study, severe local (application site) skin reactions were reported in about 10% of patients.[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Rash (up to 77%), pain (34%), paresthesia (up to 22%), pruritus (up to 11%)

Common (1% to 10%): Exfoliative dermatitis, skin disorder, edema[Ref]

Side effects occurred almost exclusively at the application site and have included application site rash (term includes erythema, scaling, irritation, redness, dermatitis), pain (term includes burning, pain), pruritus (term includes itching, pruritus), exfoliative dermatitis (term includes flaking, peeling, desquamation, exfoliation), skin disorder (term includes excoriation, cracking, scab, crusting, drainage, eschar, fissure, or oozing), paresthesia (term includes stinging, tingling), and edema (term includes edema, swelling, inflammation).[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Panretin (alitretinoin topical)." Ligand Pharmaceuticals (2001):

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.