Looking to lead a stronger, healthier life?
Sign up for our Wellness Wire newsletter for all sorts of nutrition, fitness, and wellness wisdom.

Now we’re in this together.
Thanks for subscribing and having us along on your health and wellness journey.

See all Healthline's newsletters »

Generic Name:

acitretin, Oral capsule

All Brands

  • Soriatane
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for acitretin

Oral capsule
ACITRETIN (a si TRE tin) is used to treat severe forms of psoriasis.
2 3 4
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any of these conditions.
Know what to watch for and get tips for reducing your risks while taking this drug.
SECTION 2 of 4

acitretin Side Effects

Oral capsule

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • breathing problems
  • changes in vision
  • dark urine
  • depression and/or aggressive feelings, thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • frequent urination, increased thirst or hunger
  • joint, muscle or bone pain
  • severe or persistent nausea and vomiting and decreased appetite
  • swelling in a leg
  • yellowing of the eyes or skin

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • altered taste
  • difficulty sleeping
  • dry nose, mouth, and eyes
  • hair loss
  • increased sweating
  • itching and peeling of your fingers, palms, or soles of the feet
  • ringing in the ears
  • scaly skin all over
  • weak nails
SECTION 3 of 4

acitretin May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:

  • alcohol, including alcohol that may be in drinks, food, or medicines including over-the-counter medicines
  • etretinate - tell your doctor if you have ever taken this medicine in the past
  • methotrexate
  • multivitamins or nutritional supplements that contain vitamin A
  • progestin-only birth control pills (mini pill)
  • st. john's wort
  • tetracycline type antibiotics like tetracycline, doxycycline or minocycline
  • vitamin A type medicines like isotretinoin, tretinoin
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
SECTION 4 of 4

How to Use acitretin

Oral capsule

Take this medicine by mouth with with a glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Take this medicine with food. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Do not stop taking except on your doctor's advice.

A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • alcoholism
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • heart disease
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • taking St. John's Wort
  • visual problems
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to acitretin, etretinate, vitamin A, isotretinoin, tretinoin, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding
What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, skip the missed dose and resume your normal schedule. Do not take double or extra doses.

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Your psoriasis may get worse when you first start taking this medicine. You may have to take it for 2 to 3 months before you see the full benefit.

This medicine can cause birth defects. Do not get pregnant while taking this drug. Females will need to have 2 negative pregnancy tests before starting this medicine and then monthly pregnancy tests during treatment, even if you are not sexually active. Use 2 reliable forms of birth control together for 1 month before, during, and for at least 3 years after stopping this medicine. Avoid using birth control pills that do not contain estrogen. They may not work while you are taking this medicine. If you become pregnant, miss a menstrual cycle, or stop using birth control, you must immediately stop taking this medicine. Severe birth defects may occur. Do not take this medicine before or during breast-feeding.

Before you receive your prescription review the Do Your P.A.R.T. booklet, which includes the Do Your P.A.R.T. Patient Brochure, The Contraceptive Counseling Referral Form for female patients, the Patient Agreement/Informed Consent Form for female patients, and the Medication Guide. If you did not talk to your doctor about this and sign the consent form, contact your health care provider.

Do not share this medicine with anyone else because of the risk of birth defects and other serious adverse effects.

Do not give blood during your treatment and for 3 years after you stop taking it. This medicine in your blood can harm an unborn baby if the blood is given to a pregnant woman. You can still receive blood transfusions while taking this medicine.

If you wear contact lenses, they may feel uncomfortable.

This medicine can make you more sensitive to the sun. Keep out of the sun. If you cannot avoid being in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen. Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths. If you are receiving light treatment (phototherapy), your doctor may need to change your light dosages to avoid burns.

Your mouth may get dry. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking hard candy, and drinking plenty of water may help. Contact your doctor if the problem does not go away or is severe.

This medicine can increase cholesterol and triglyceride levels and decrease HDL (the 'good' cholesterol) levels. Your health care provider will monitor these levels and recommend appropriate therapy, including dietary changes or prescription drugs, if necessary.

This medicine may affect your blood sugar levels. If you are diabetic check with your doctor or health care professional if you notice any change in your blood sugar tests.

During therapy with this medicine and for 2 months after stopping treatment, you must avoid drinks, foods, and all medicines that contain alcohol. This includes over-the-counter products that contain alcohol. Avoiding alcohol is important because alcohol changes this medicine into a drug that may take longer than 3 years to leave your body. The chance of birth defects may last longer than 3 years if you take any form of alcohol while taking this medicine or for 2 months after stopping treatment.

Where should I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 25 degrees C (59 and 77 degrees F). Protect from light. Avoid exposure to high temperatures and humidity after the bottle is opened. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.

What does the pill look like?

Showing - out of 13

Last Updated: May 17, 2011

The Healthline Site, its content, such as text, graphics, images, search results, and other material contained on the Healthline Site ("Content"), its services, and any information or material posted on the Healthline Site by third parties are provided for informational purposes only. None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Healthline Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Please read the Terms of Service for more information regarding use of the Healthline Site.
Content licensed by
Gold Standard Logo

Healthline - Gold Standard License

Terms of Use

Licensee provides access to Alchemy provided by Gold Standard, Inc. ("Gold Standard"). Although Gold Standard makes reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy and reliability of Alchemy, End User acknowledges and agrees that Licensee, its affiliates, and their respective officers, directors, employees and information providers and Gold Standard, its affiliates, its licensors, and their respective officers, directors, employees and information providers will not be held liable for any damages suffered or incurred by End User or any third person arising out of: a) any faults, interruptions or delays in Alchemy or its delivery, b) any use of or reliance on Alchemy by any person, or c) any inaccuracies, errors or omissions in Alchemy, irrespective of however such faults, interruptions, delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions arise. Gold Standard shall not be liable to End User for any loss, cost or damages resulting from any delays in delivery and/or non-delivery of Alchemy or its content. End User acknowledges and agrees that its sole and exclusive remedy in the event of such delay is to not accept these terms and conditions. Gold Standard does not represent or warrant that Alchemy will meet the objectives or needs of End User or any third party. Gold Standard makes no warranty of merchantability of Alchemy or of the fitness of Alchemy for any purpose.

About Gold Standard

The Gold Standard editorial staff develops clinically-based drug information content through an independent, peer-reviewed process. Content updates to the database include new FDA-approved drugs, new non-prescription and herbal therapies, newly published information regarding FDA label changes and relevant clinical studies affecting off-label utilization. Editors do not have any significant financial relationships with the industry that would introduce bias in the editing or review of database content.