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Targretin Gel Side Effects

Generic Name: bexarotene topical

Note: This page contains side effects data for the generic drug bexarotene topical. It is possible that some of the dosage forms included below may not apply to the brand name Targretin Gel.

In Summary

Common side effects of Targretin Gel include: contact dermatitis, disorder of integument, pruritus, and skin rash. Other side effects include: exfoliative dermatitis, and maculopapular rash. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to bexarotene topical: topical gel/jelly

Along with its needed effects, bexarotene topical (the active ingredient contained in Targretin Gel) may cause some unwanted effects. Some side effects will have signs or symptoms that you can see or feel. Your doctor may watch for others by doing certain tests. Since the medication is applied externally to the skin, in general, these side effect are less common. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Major Side Effects

If any of the following side effects occur while taking bexarotene topical, check with your doctor immediately:

More common:
  • Bloating or swelling of face, hands, lower legs and/or feet
  • chills, fever, or general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • decreased urination
  • lack or loss of strength
  • rapid or unusual weight gain
  • skin rash, blisters, redness, or irritation
  • sticky or tacky sensation
  • thickened, scaly skin
  • tingling or “pins and needles” sensation
  • sore throat
  • swollen, painful or tender lymph glands in neck, armpit, or groin
  • unusual bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness.

Minor Side Effects

Some bexarotene topical side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

More common:
  • Abnormal or excessive sweating
  • blistering, burning, crusting, dryness, flaking, itching, scaling, severe redness, soreness, or swelling of skin or lesion
  • headache
  • increased cough
  • lower back or side pain
  • painful or difficult urination

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to bexarotene topical: topical gel


Dermatologic side effects have included rash (56% to 72%), pruritus (18% to 36%), skin disorder (18% to 26%), contact dermatitis (8% to 14%), exfoliative dermatitis (6%), maculopapular rash (6%), and sweating (6%).[Ref]


General side effects have included headache (14%), asthenia (6%), infection (18%), and pain (30%).[Ref]


Metabolic side effects have included hyperlipidemia in 10% of patients.[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects have included edema (10%) and peripheral edema (6%).[Ref]


Hematologic side effects have included leukopenia and abnormal WBC each reported in 6% of patients.[Ref]


Lymphatic side effects have included lymphadenopathy (6%).[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have included paresthesia (6%).[Ref]


Respiratory side effects have included increased cough and pharyngitis in 6% of patients.[Ref]


1. Leoung GS, Aboulafla D, Millikan L, Duvic M, MacGregor RR, Gill G, Truglia J, Yocum R "Treatment of Kaposi's sarcoma using Targretin (LGD1069), a topical retinoid gel." Int Conf AIDS 11 (1996): 98(

2. "Product Information. Targretin (bexarotene topical)" Stiefel Laboratories Inc, Coral Gables, FL.

It is possible that some side effects of Targretin Gel may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

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