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Alitretinoin topical Side Effects

In Summary

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

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by alitretinoin topical. In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

Severity: Moderate

If any of the following side effects occur while taking alitretinoin topical, check with your doctor or nurse as soon as possible:

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

Minor Side Effects

Some of the side effects that can occur with alitretinoin topical may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

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, San Diego, CA.

Not all side effects for alitretinoin topical may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

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