Generic Name: Acitretin
Brand names: Soriatane, Neotigason, Aceret, Acetec, Acitrin
Available as: 10 mg, 25 mg capsule

Acitretin is a second generation oral retinoid (vitamin-A derivative) used in the treatment of severe psoriasis and other skin disorders. This is prescription only drug and can be used only under specialist guidance. Talk to your doctor about your detail history before taking acitretin. Your doctor may start you with a initial low dose and gradually may increase the dose as needed. Treatment course may be 4-12 months or longer for maximum benefit. Do not stop taking acitretin without talking to your doctor.

Indications and usage:

Acitretin is indicated in the treatment of following skin conditions:

  • Psoriasis
  • Actinic keratoses
  • Darier’s disease
  • Lichen planus
  • Lichen sclerosus et atrophicus
  • Ichthyosis
  • Keratodermas
  • Cutaneous malignancies
  • Palmoplantar pustulosis
  • Severe Hand dermatitis
  • Lupus erythematosus
  • Pityriasis rubra pilaris
  • Skin cancer
  • Extensive warts

Mechanism of action
The exact mechanism of action is unclear. It is thought that Acitretin alters the gene expression through activation of retinoic acid receptors in the nucleus and binds to DNA to cause transcription or transrepression changes in protein synthesis. It also inhibit the excess cell growth and keratinisation and it also has anti-imflammatory properties.


  • Pregnancy
  • Hypersensitivity to retinoids
  • Liver dysfunction

Special Notes: Do not take acitretin if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant within the next 3 years. Acitretin may harm the fetus.

Drug interactions

Acitretin should not be taken together with the following medicines. Talk to your doctor if you are currently taking these medications, your doctor will decide you the alternative medications.

  • Tetracycline and its derivatives (Increases the risk of intracranial hypertension )
  • Methotrexate (increases the effect and toxicity of methotrexate )
  • Vitamin A or any other retinoid (increases the risk of vitamin A toxicity )
  • Antifungals
  • Phenytoin
  • Alcohol

Acitretin Side Effects:

Common side effects of Acitretin

  • Dry eyes and lips and nose
  • Headache and nausea
  • Diarrhea and abdominal pain
  • Retinoid dermatitis
  • Fragility and onycholysis of the nails
  • Peeling of the skin, especially hands and feet
  • Muscle, joint or bone acne

Rare side effects of Acitretin:

  • Reduced night vision, photophobia
  • Osteoporotic changes
  • Pancreatitis, hepatitis
  • Flare of inflammatory bowel disease
  • irritability, aggression and depression