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Psoriasis and Retinoids

Written by ColleenO.

Retinoids are vitamin A related medications that may be prescribed as either topical treatments (such as gels) or oral medication. Oral retinoids are used for treating severe cases of psoriasis, while topical retinoids can be used in mild or moderate cases.

Common names include:

  • Tazarotene (Tazorac): topical treatment
  • Acitretin (Soriatane): oral treatment

Effect of Retinoids on Psoriasis

Tazarotene is a topical retinoid that is used in psoriasis treatment to help reduce skin reddening and reduce the size and number of lesions. It may be prescribed alone or in conjunction with topical steroids. It is available as a gel or cream that is applied once a day and is used for skin, scalp, and nail psoriasis.

Acitretin is an oral retinoid that used to control and relieve moderate to severe psoriasis. It works by allowing normal growth and development of skin.

Read more details about Retinoids.

Possible side effects of tazarotene include:

  • Skin irritation, especially when used by itself
  • Burning or stinging of the skin (severe)
  • Changes in color of treated skin
  • Dryness, itching, peeling, or redness of the skin (severe)
  • Pain or swelling of treated skin

Contraindications of tazarotene:

  • Should not be used during pregnancy
  • Do not expose skin to excessive sunlight after treatment
  • Do not use around eyes, lips, or near the inside of the nose

Possible side effects of acitretin include:

  • Elevation of triglycerides
  • Liver inflammation
  • Severe skin dryness and occasional burning sensation
  • Mild bone or joint pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rarely stiff, painful muscles

Contraindications of acitretin:

  • Cannot be used by women who are pregnant or planning to have children in the next 3 years
  • Do not drink alcohol during treatment and for 2 months after discontinuing usage. This may both exacerbate the liver side effects of soriatane and extensively prolong the storage of the drug in the body. Blood should not be donated during treatment, and 2-3 years after discontinuing usage
  • Avoid skin products containing alcohol, spices or limes, which increase sun sensitivity
  • Avoid acne products that contain peeling agents
  • Do not take vitamin A, since doses greater than the minimum daily requirement may increase your chance of developing side effects

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