Also know as Soriatane, acitretin is an oral retinoid medicine. It works by effecting how skin cells mature, like vitamin A. The medicine is a pill that you will take by mouth.

Side effects of acitretin

  • Peeling of the hands and feet 
  • Dry skin 
  • Itching 
  • Dry nose 
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dry mouth
  • Chapped lips 
  • Dry eyes 
  • Tight muscles 
  • Joint pains
  • Higher levels of fats in your blood than normal

Rare but serious side effects of acitretin

  • Bad headaches 
  • Nausea (feeling like you need to vomit)
  • Vomiting (throwing up) 
  • Blurry vision 
  • Decreased night vision
  • Depression 
  • Liver damage (which can cause yellow skin, yellow eyes, vomiting, dark urine (pee), and light stools) 
  • Bone formation within tendons

Stop the medicine and call your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms.

Drinking alcohol while taking this medicine puts you at higher risk of liver problems.

Do not become pregnany while on acitretin

This medicine can cause birth defects if you get pregnant within three years of taking it. Because of this, we often do not use it with any woman who can still get pregnant, even if she is not planning too. If you are a woman who could still get pregnant, do not drink alcohol while taking this medicine.

Can you donate blood while on acitretin?

You cannot donate blood while taking this medicine or for three years after you take it. This is due to the risk of birth defects in a woman who gets the donated blood.

Blood work on acitretin

We will check blood work to look for changes in the levels of lipids (fats) in your blood and your liver function. Do not eat for at least eight hours before having your blood drawn.

Last reviewed: 
August 2018

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