Also known as Xeljanz, tofacitinib works by decreasing the activity of immune cells that are overactive in your hair follicles. It is a pill that you will take by mouth. Take it as prescribed by your doctor.

Side effects of tofacitinib

  • Upper respiratory infections (colds)
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold or flu-like symptoms

Rare side effects of tofacitinib

  • High cholesterol levels
  • Liver damage
  • Low blood counts
  • Shingles
  • Skin cancers
  • Gastrointestinal perforation 
  • Lymphoma

Reasons you should not take tofacitinib

Do not take this medicine if you are pregnant or breast- feeding. Tell your doctor if you have liver disease or a history of infections, such as tuberculosis or hepatitis B or C.

Vaccines and tofacitinib

Get a flu shot each year, unless you have been told not to by your doctor. Talk with your doctor before getting live vaccines.

Some live vaccines

  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
  • Nasal flu mist
  • Varicella
  • Zostavax (shingles)
  • Yellow fever
  • Typhoid
  • Live poliovirus

Blood work and tofacitinib

We will check blood work to look for changes in the levels of lipids (fats), electrolytes, liver markers, and blood counts. Do not eat for at least 8 hours before having your blood drawn.

Last reviewed: 
August 2018

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