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Tazarotene Cream, Gel, Lotion, and Foam

Generic Name: tazarotene topical (ta ZAR oh teen)
Brand Names: Arazlo, Avage, Fabior, Tazorac

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Sep 24, 2020.

What is tazarotene topical?

Tazarotene is a compound similar to vitamin A. It helps the skin to renew itself more quickly and may improve the appearance and texture of skin.

Tazarotene topical is available in a cream, gel, lotion, or foam.

The Avage brand of tazarotene cream is used to reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles on the face, mottled light and dark skin patches on the face, and benign facial lentigines (non-cancerous freckles) in adults and adolescents who are at least 17 years old.

The Fabior and Tazorac brands of tazarotene topical are used to treat acne vulgaris in adults and adolescents who are at least 12 years old.

The Arazlo brand of tazarotene topical is used to treat acne vulgaris in adults and adolescents who are at least 9 years old.

Tazorac is also used to treat plaque psoriasis (raised, silvery flaking of the skin) in adults.

Important Information

Tazarotene can cause birth defects. Do not use if you are pregnant. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy.

Stop using tazarotene and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant, if you stop using birth control, or if you miss a menstrual period.

You may get sunburned more easily. Avoid sun, sunlamps, and tanning beds. Use sunscreen and wear clothing and eyewear that protects you from the sun.

Some weather conditions may irritate the skin. Your skin may look worse before it looks better.

Tazarotene may cause harm if swallowed. If tazarotene cream is swallowed, call a doctor or poison control center right away.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use tazarotene topical if you are allergic to it, or if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.

You must have a negative pregnancy test within 2 weeks before starting this treatment.

To make sure tazarotene is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • eczema, sunburn, or another skin condition;

  • skin cancer;

  • lentigo maligna (a type of skin cancer);

  • an allergic reaction to a skin product; or

  • if you work outdoors.

Do not use tazarotene if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby or cause birth defects. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine.

Stop using tazarotene and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant, if you stop using birth control, or if you miss a menstrual period.

It may not be safe to breastfeed while using tazarotene. Ask your doctor about any risk.

Avage should not be used on anyone younger than 17 years old. Fabior or Tazorac should not be used to treat acne in a child younger than 12 years old. Fabior should not be used to treat psoriasis in anyone under 18 years old.

How should I use tazarotene topical?

Tazarotene is usually applied once daily in the evening or at bedtime. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Do not take by mouth. Topical medicine is for use only on the skin. Do not use tazarotene topical on open wounds or on sunburned, windburned, dry, chapped, or irritated skin. If this medicine gets in your eyes, nose, mouth, rectum, or vagina, rinse with water.

Also avoid using this medicine in wounds or on areas of eczema. Wait until these conditions have fully healed before using tazarotene.

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.

Women who use tazarotene topical should start the medication during a menstrual period.

Avoid applying the medication to unaffected areas. If medication accidentally gets on areas that do not need treatment, wash it off.

Shake the Fabior foam well just before each use.

Your skin may be more sensitive to weather extremes such as cold and wind during treatment with tazarotene. Protect your skin with clothing and use a moisturizing cream or lotion as needed.

Store at room temperature, away from moisture and heat. Do not freeze.

Fabior foam is flammable. Do not use near high heat or open flame. The canister may explode if it gets too hot. Do not puncture or burn an empty foam canister. Store the bottle in an upright position.

Tazarotene dosing information

Usual Adult Dose of Tazarotene for Plaque Psoriasis:

Initial dose: Apply a thin film of 0.05% gel or cream once a day in the evening to cover only the psoriatic lesions
-Increase to 0.1% if tolerated and medically indicated

Comments:
-Apply to dry skin; if a bath or shower is taken prior to application, allow time for skin to dry before applying; if emollients are used, they should be applied at least 1 hour prior.
-Avoid applying gel or cream on unaffected skin as it may be more susceptible to irritation.
-The safety of gel use on more than 20% body surface area has not been established and is not recommended.

Uses:
-For the topical treatment of plaque psoriasis

Usual Adult Dose of Tazarotene for Acne:

Apply a thin layer of 0.1% gel/cream/foam once a day in the evening to cover acne lesions

Comments:
-Cleanse the face gently and dry before application.
-Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing while using this drug.

Use: For the topical treatment of acne vulgaris

Usual Adult Dose of Tazarotene for Skin Pigmentation Disorder:

Apply pea-sized amount once a day at bedtime to lightly cover entire face, including the eyelids, if desired

Comments:
-Remove makeup and after washing face and allow skin to completely dry before applying; emollients/moisturizers may be applied before this cream, however, allow to absorb and completely dry before applying this cream; facial moisturizers may be used as frequently as desired.
-This cream does not eliminate or prevent wrinkles or restore more youthful skin.
-This cream does not reverse photoaging or repair sun damaged skin; it does not mitigate coarse or deep wrinkling, tactile roughness, telangiectasia, skin laxity, keratinocytic atypia, melanocytic atypia, or dermal elastosis.
-The safety and effectiveness for the prevention and treatment of actinic keratoses, skin neoplasms, or lentigo maligna have not been established.

Use: As an adjunctive agent for use in the mitigation (palliation) of facial fine wrinkling, facial, mottled hyper and hypopigmentation and benign facial lentigines in patients who use comprehensive skin care and sunlight avoidance programs.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Acne:

Age: 12 years or older:
Apply a thin layer of 0.1% gel/cream/foam once a day in the evening to cover acne lesions

Comments:
-Cleanse the face gently and dry before application.
-Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing while using this drug.

Use: For the topical treatment of acne vulgaris

Usual Pediatric Dose for Plaque Psoriasis:

Age: 12 years or older:
Initial dose: Apply a thin film of 0.05% gel or cream once a day in the evening to cover only the psoriatic lesions
-Increase to 0.1% if tolerated and medically indicated

Comments:
-Apply to dry skin; if a bath or shower is taken prior to application, allow time for skin to dry before applying; if emollients are used, they should be applied at least 1 hour prior.
-Avoid applying gel or cream on unaffected skin as it may be more susceptible to irritation.
-The safety of gel use on more than 20% body surface area has not been established and is not recommended.

Uses:
-For the topical treatment of plaque psoriasis

What happens if I miss a dose?

Apply the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not apply two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of tazarotene may cause severe skin discomfort. Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if anyone has accidentally swallowed the medicine.

What should I avoid while using tazarotene?

Avoid applying the medication to unaffected areas. If medication accidentally gets on areas that do not need treatment, wash it off.

Avoid using other skin medications on the areas you treat with tazarotene topical unless your doctor tells you to.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. tazarotene can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.

Avoid using skin products that can cause irritation, such as harsh soaps, shampoos, hair coloring or permanent chemicals, hair removers or waxes, or skin products with alcohol, spices, astringents, or lime.

Rinse with water if tazarotene gets in your eyes.

Tazarotene topical side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to tazarotene: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using tazarotene and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe skin irritation (pain, dryness, flaking, peeling, burning, stinging, itching) after applying the medicine;

  • blistering or peeling skin;

  • severe redness or discomfort; or

  • swelling, warmth, oozing, or other signs of skin infection.

Common tazarotene side effects may include:

  • dry, scaly, or peeling skin;

  • skin pain, redness or burning; or

  • itching or other irritation 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.

What other drugs will affect tazarotene topical?

If you also use a benzoyl peroxide acne medication, do not use it at the same time you use tazarotene topical. Apply one medication only in the morning and the other only in the evening.

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

  • an antibiotic or other medicine that can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with tazarotene, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use tazarotene only for the indication prescribed.

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

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