Where is Alitretinoin used?

Alitretinoin is used for the treatment of skin sores in patients with a certain type of AIDS-related cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma. This is a type of medicine called retinoids that affects the development of skin cells. Retinoids are relatives of vitamin A which controls normal cell growth, cell differentiation, and cell death. Also, retinoids are a relatively new type of anti-cancer drug.

This medication is intended for topical application only. Alitretinoin gel is a prescription approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

How does Alitretinoin work?

Alitretinoin alters the activity of the immune system in the skin. This also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin.

  • Retinoids play a role in regulating normal cell growth and cell death.
  • Alitretinoin binds to retinoid receptors on the cell nucleus and activates the receptors.
  • Activated receptors regulate the expression of genes that control cell differentiation and growth in both normal and abnormal cells.
  • In this way, Alitretinoin can inhibit the growth of Kaposi’s sarcoma cells.
  • Alitretinoin has demonstrated immune-modulatory and anti-inflammatory effects that are relevant to skin inflammation.

The effectiveness of this medication may be visible in your skin in as little as 2 weeks of treatment. It may take up to 14 weeks of treatment to see the full benefit.

How is Alitretinoin taken?

Alitretinoin is to be used on the skin only and is not to be ingested. Apply adequate medicine to cover the skin sores well. This medication is usually applied 2 to 4 times a day or as directed by your doctor. Wash your hands before and after using Alitretinoin, unless you are using this to treat the hands.

Your doctor will determine the number of daily applications and the length of time treatment should be continued. You must use this medication exactly as it is given by your doctor. You should not take more or less than the prescription. Your doctor may direct you to start at a lesser amount and gradually increase it. To get the most benefit from it, use the medication regularly. Remember to use the prescription at the same time and in the same way each day. Let your doctor know if your condition gets worse or if it does not improve. If you missed applying the medication, you should call your doctor for further instructions.

What are the precautions in taking Alitretinoin?

  • Before taking a dose, let your doctor know if you have ever had a medical history of certain types of cancer.
  • Do not take this drug again if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal.
  • During pregnancy, Alitretinoin should only be used when needed. If you are a breastfeeding women, consult your doctor first before using this drug.
  • This drug may cause drowsiness. Don’t drive or do dangerous activities until you know how this affects you.  
  • This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Limit your time in the sun. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors.
  • Let your healthcare provider know about all the medicines you take including prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
  • Without the consent of your doctor, you should not receive any vaccination or immunization.
  • You should not share this or any of your prescriptions with others even if they have the same symptoms as yours.
  • Alitretinoin gel may contain flammable alcohol. Do not use this gel near an open flame or while smoking.
  • You should not apply this in or around the eyes, mouth, nose, vagina, anus, or tip of the penis.