Health Guide

Etretinate (By mouth)

Etretinate (e-TRET-i-nate)

Treats severe psoriasis.

Brand Name(s):

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to etretinate, if you are pregnant, or if you plan to become pregnant.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will tell you how much medicine to use and how often.
  • Take the capsule with food or milk so your body absorbs more of the medicine.

If a dose is missed:

  • Use the missed dose as soon as possible, unless it is almost time for your next dose.
  • Skip the missed does if it is almost time for your next regular dose.
  • You should not use two doses at the same time.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the capsules at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Your doctor may change your diet during etretinate therapy. Make sure you follow the instructions closely.
  • Avoid using vitamin A while you are using etretinate.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Talk with your doctor before using etretinate if you have liver disease.
  • This medicine may raise your cholesterol and triglycerides (fat in your blood). You may be more likely to have high triglycerides if you or a member of your family drinks large amounts of alcohol, is overweight, or has diabetes. Talk with your doctor about this.
  • Do not get pregnant while you are being treated with this medicine. Etretinate may cause birth defects or be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not breastfeed while using this medicine.
  • Your doctor may give you a pregnancy test before you start using this medicine to make sure you are not pregnant. You may be told to take your first dose on the 2nd or 3rd day of your normal menstrual period to make sure you are not pregnant when you take the medicine.
  • You must use an effective form of birth control for at least 1 month before your first dose of etretinate. Keep using birth control while using the medicine and after you stop using it.
  • If you think you may have become pregnant, stop using etretinate and talk to your doctor right away.
  • It is not known how long the medicine will stay in your body and cause birth defects. If you plan to have children, talk to your doctor before using this medicine.
  • You may need blood tests done on a regular schedule to make sure the medicine is not causing harmful side effects. Try not to miss any appointments.
  • Your psoriasis may be worse when you first start using the medicine. This is normal. Your psoriasis should get better with continued treatment, so keep using the medicine as your doctor ordered.
  • This medicine may decrease your ability to see at night. Be careful if you are driving or using machinery at night.
  • This medicine may cause dry eyes, which can cause problems if you wear contact lenses.
  • This medicine can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and cause a sunburn. Protect your skin with clothing and sunscreen when you are outside. Avoid being in direct sunlight for long periods of time.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Yellowing of eyes or skin
  • Changes in vision
  • Chest pain
  • Severe headache with nausea and vomiting

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Dry skin, eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Chapped lips
  • Hair loss
  • Tiredness
  • Peeling skin on your fingertips or palms
  • Muscle pain, joint pain, bone pain

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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