Here are some things to know when you're taking alitretinoin. Other things may be important as well, so ask your healthcare provider what you should know about.
Dry skin, lips, nostrils and eyes
Alitretinoin reduces oil production in the skin, and can cause dry skin, dry mouth, chapped lips, dry nostrils and dry eyes. These effects can be uncomfortable. Here are some tips to manage them, but if you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
- Lips: from the start of treatment, use an emollient lip balm that has a sunscreen. It's important to apply the lip balm often during the day such as in the morning as soon as you awake, after any food, snack or drink, last thing at night and any other time in between that your lips become dry.
- Skin: from the start of treatment, use a non-perfumed moisturizing cream. Use non-soap cleansers, as these are less likely to irritate the skin than soap cleansers. Avoid beauty treatments such as chemical peels, dermabrasion and waxing during treatment, and for at least 6 months after stopping.
- Eyes: your eyes may become dry and itchy, especially if you wear contact lenses. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable eye lubricant (also called artificial tears). Read more about eye lubricants. While you are taking alitretinoin, you may need to wear glasses instead of contact lenses.
- Nostrils: the inside of the nostrils may become dry and crusted and lead to mild nose bleeds. Applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly gently to the inside of the nose may help.
Increased sensitivity to the sun
Alitretinoin can make you more sensitive to the sun and your skin is more likely to burn.
- Avoid unnecessary sun exposure.
- When outside, protect your skin by using an oil-free sunscreen (SPF50+). Apply the sunscreen to all areas especially the face, neck and ears. Read more about using sunscreen.
- Wear clothing that protects you from the sun.
- Wear sunglasses when outdoors.
- Breastfeeding: Do not take alitretinoin if you are breastfeeding.
- Donating blood: Donating blood by males and females on alitretinoin is not allowed during treatment, and for 1 month after treatment has finished. This is in case the blood is used for a pregnant woman.