What Are the Most Common Tretinoin Side Effects?

There are a number of common tretinoin side effects which can include increased sensitivity to sunlight, dry skin, nausea, and headache. This medication can potentially cause more serious side effects, including a condition known as retinoic acid-APL syndrome. Patients taking this drug should watch for side effects and any changes in their condition, so they can report developing issues to a doctor. The doctor may recommend a medication switch or other measures to protect the patient from serious complications.
This medication is part of a family of drugs known as retinoids. It can be used in the treatment of some forms of leukemia as well as severe acne. Doses for patients with acne tend to be lower, and are less prone to causing severe side effects. Cancer patients can experience tretinoin side effects of varying severity, depending on the dosage and the specifics of their condition. Side effects may take several doses to appear so patients should watch for changes that may indicate increased sensitivity to the drug.
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Often, individuals taking this medication notice dry skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. These tretinoin side effects can be mitigated by staying hydrated with lots of fresh water, and applying moisturizers and eye drops as appropriate. Some patients also experience nausea, headache, stomach upset, fever, and pain. Vision changes can occur. All of these symptoms have the potential to become severe if they are not addressed and patients should report them to a doctor or nurse to allow the care provider to determine if the medication should be discontinued or adjusted for safety.
Patients on this drug are at increased risk of sunburn and may develop extreme skin sensitivity. Their skin also thins, which can expose them to the risk of infection. Sometimes allergies develop, in which case the patient may experience rashes, difficulty breathing, and discomfort. Patients who notice tretinoin side effects getting worse, or have difficulty breathing that does not resolve, should contact a doctor. They may be experiencing acute reactions, and could be at risk of serious illness.
Trentinoin tends to interact poorly with other drugs known to have a drying or skin thinning effect, particularly medications with sulfur or salicylic acid. In patients with acne, the doctor may recommend resting the skin to clear other acne medications before starting a course of this drug. This can reduce the chance of tretinoin side effects caused by medication reactions. Patients who apply topical preparations and immediately notice rashes, itching, and skin discomfort can wash the medication off with mild soap and warm water and consult a doctor to discuss available options to manage the side effects.

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