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Precautions and Warnings With Acitretin

Tell your healthcare provider about any existing medical conditions you have before using acitretin. Warnings and precautions for the medication should also be discussed with your healthcare provider, as it is important to know what complications may occur with the medication and which side effects may be potentially serious. You may not be able to use acitretin safely if you are taking certain medications or if you are capable of getting pregnant.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Taking Acitretin?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking acitretin (Soriatane®) if you have:
 
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
     
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medicines you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Precautions and Warnings With Acitretin

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking this drug include the following:
 
  • Acitretin is likely to cause very severe birth defects if it is taken during pregnancy. It is absolutely essential that you do not take acitretin while pregnant, and you should not get pregnant while taking acitretin or for three years after stopping treatment (see Soriatane and Pregnancy for more information).
     
  • Women of childbearing potential must follow strict rules in order to take acitretin. This includes all women except those who have had a hysterectomy or women who have definitely been through menopause (as determined by a healthcare provider). Not being sexually active or having a tubal ligation does not count, as you are still considered able to get pregnant.
     
  • Alcohol can change acitretin into a different medication that lasts much longer in the body. If you consume any alcohol while taking acitretin or within two months of stopping the medication, acitretin may stay in the body for more than three years (instead of the normal time of about two months). Women of childbearing potential must avoid all alcohol while taking acitretin and for two months afterward. This includes any form of alcohol, including alcohol in food, beverages, or even medications.
     
  • Very little acitretin is found in seminal fluid, suggesting that there is probably very little risk to a fetus if a pregnant woman has intercourse with a man taking acitretin. However, it has not been entirely ruled out that this tiny amount of acitretin is safe.
     
  • Acitretin has been linked to liver problems, including cirrhosis and hepatitis. Your healthcare provider should monitor you carefully to check for such problems.
     
  • Acitretin can cause bone problems, especially problems related to bone overgrowth. However, the risk for these problems is quite low in adults, and x-rays to routinely check for such problems are not recommended (unless any unusual bone symptoms occur).
     
  • Acitretin can cause high triglycerides, high cholesterol, and low HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol"). These changes are unhealthy and may increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and (in the case of very high triglycerides) pancreatitis.
     
  • Acitretin can cause pseudotumor cerebri, a condition involving high pressure inside the cranium. The risk may be greater when acitretin is combined with tetracycline antibiotics (see Drug Interactions With Acitretin for more information). Let your healthcare provider know if you develop signs of this condition, such as nausea and vomiting, headaches, and vision changes.
     
  • Acitretin can cause depression or suicidal behavior. Make sure to let your healthcare provider know if you have had such problems in the past (or even if any of your family members has had such problems). It is important for you (and those around you) to watch for any mood or mental changes that could indicate a problem, such as:

 

    • Sad mood
    • Hopelessness
    • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
    • Loss of pleasure or interest in activities
    • Fatigue
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Changes in sleep pattern
    • Changes in weight or appetite
    • Suicidal thoughts or attempts.

 

  • Some people have experienced poor night vision while taking acitretin. If this happens to you, it is best to avoid driving at night.
     
  • You should not donate blood while taking acitretin or for three years after stopping it. If a pregnant woman were to receive your donated blood, her fetus would be exposed to acitretin.
     
  • Make sure to avoid nonmedical sunlight and sun lamp exposure, as acitretin may increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun.
     
  • Acitretin can potentially interact with a few other medications (see Drug Interactions With Acitretin).
     
  • Acitretin passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Soriatane and Breastfeeding).
     

Acitretin Drug Information

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