Alitretinoin is a drug to overcome the symptoms of AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma that appears on the skin. In addition, this drug can also be used to treat severe eczema on the hands that has not been successfully treated with topical corticosteroids.

Kaposi's sarcoma is a type of cancer that originates from blood vessels and lymph nodes. This cancer can cause complaints and symptoms on the skin, such as red or purple spots that do not feel painful.

Alitretinoin belongs to the class of retinoid drugs. In the treatment of Kaposi's sarcoma, alitretinoin will regulate the growth of skin cells and prevent the growth of cancer cells. This medicine is available in gel and capsule form and can only be obtained with a doctor's prescription.

Brand name of alitretinoin: -

What is Alitretinoin

Group Prescription drugs
Category Retinoids
Benefits Treats skin lesions caused by Kaposi's sarcoma and severe eczema
Used by Adults
Alitretinoin for pregnant and lactating women  Category D:  There is positive evidence of risk to the human fetus, but the magnitude of the benefit may outweigh the risk, for example to overcome a life-threatening situation.

It is not yet known whether alitretinoin can be absorbed into breast milk or not. If you are breastfeeding, do not use this medicine without telling your doctor.

Drug form Gels, capsules

Precautions Before Using Alitretinoin

Before using this medicine, you need to pay attention to the following things:

  • Do not use alitretinoin if you are allergic to this medicine. Always tell your doctor about any allergies you have.
  • Tell your doctor if you have or are currently suffering from T-cell lymphoma , which is a type of skin cancer.
  • Do not use alitretinoin for children under 18 years of age.
  • Do not use alitretinoin capsules if you suffer from  liver failure, kidney failure, hypercholesterolemia , high triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia), hypothyroidism , excess vitamin A in the body (hypervitaminosis A), peanut or soy allergy.
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight for too long during treatment with alitretinoin, as this drug can cause the skin to become more sensitive to light. Always use  sunscreen when outdoors.
  • Tell your doctor if you are taking any medication, supplements, or herbal products.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant.
  • See a doctor immediately if an allergic drug reaction , serious side effect, or overdose occurs after using alitretinoin.

Dosage and Administration of Alitretinoin

The following is the general dose of alitretinoin use in adults based on the patient's condition and the form of the drug:

  • Condition: Lesions on the skin due to Kaposi's sarcoma
    Gel form: Apply enough gel on the skin lesions, 2 times a day.
  • Condition: Severe eczema on hands
    Capsule form: Initial dose 30 mg, once a day. If side effects appear, the dose can be reduced to 10 mg, once a day.

How to Use Alitretinoin Correctly

Follow the doctor 's advice and read the instructions on the medicine packaging. Do not increase or decrease the dose without the doctor's permission, because it is feared that the condition may worsen.

Alitretinoin capsules can be consumed after meals. Try to take the medicine at the same time every day for maximum treatment.

Some types of alitretinoin capsules contain soybean oil. Always read the contents of the medicine you take. If you are allergic to soybeans, do not consume alitretinoin products containing this ingredient.

Wash your hands with mild soap and water, before and after using alitretinoin gel, unless you are treating the skin on your hands.

Apply this medicine only on the skin lesions to be treated. Try not to apply the medicine in the area around the lesion. Avoid applying alitretinoin to mucous membranes, such as eyes, nostrils, or mouth.

Allow alitretinoin gel to dry for 3–5 minutes before covering the treated skin with clothing. Do not shower or swim for at least 3 hours after applying the medicine.

Do not cover the treated skin area with a bandage or covering cloth, except on the advice of a doctor.

The results of using alitretinoin gel may be visible after 14 weeks or more. Keep using the medicine according to the instructions and tell the doctor if the symptoms do not improve.

Store alitretinoin at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. Keep the medicine out of the reach of children.

Alitretinoin Interactions with Other Drugs

The following are drug interaction effects that can occur if alitretinoin is used together with other drugs:

  • Increased risk of sunburn if used with aminolevulinic acid, methoxsalen, or porifimer
  • Increased risk of skin irritation or dryness if used with topical salicylic acid , or topical sulfur
  • Increased risk of toxic effects from anti-mosquito products that contain DEET
  • Increased levels of alitretinoin if used with ketoconazole
  • Increased risk of excessive levels of vitamin A in the body (hypervitaminosis A) if used with vitamin A supplements or retinoid drugs
  • Increased risk of pseudotumor cerebri if used with tetracycline

Side Effects and Dangers of Alitretinoin

Some of the side effects that can occur after using alitretinoin are:

  • Warm or tingling sensation in the skin
  • Skin color darkens or even becomes lighter
  • The skin is red or itchy
  • Dry skin

Consult a doctor if the above side effects do not subside immediately or get worse. You need to see a doctor immediately if you experience a drug allergic reaction or more serious side effects, such as:

  • Severe redness or swelling of the skin
  • Cracked, sore, watery, or crusty skin
  • Flaky or scaly skin
  • Blistered skin
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