Soriatane (Acitretin)

Soriatane is an oral retinoid, which is a synthetic form of vitamin A. Acitretin is the only oral retinoid approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for treating psoriasis.

What Is Soriatane (acitretin)?

The exact way Soriatane works to control psoriasis is unknown. In general, retinoids help control the multiplication of cells, including the speed at which skin cells grow and shed.

If you would like a Systemics Medication Booklet, simply contact our Patient Navigation center to request a copy [PNC Contact Page].

How Is Soriatane Used?

Soriatane comes in 10 mg and 25 mg capsules. The prescribed dose is taken once a day with food. Several factors determine the initial dosage for each individual, including the type of psoriasis present.

Doses may be reduced after symptoms improve, depending on the person’s response. Ordinarily, retinoid treatment is stopped when lesions have cleared significantly. When lesions or other symptoms reappear, the drug may be taken again.

Soriatane tends to work slowly for plaque psoriasis. Psoriasis may worsen before individuals start to see clearing. After eight to 16 weeks of treatment, the skin lesions usually will improve. It may take up to six months for the drug to reach its peak effect.

Soriatane is indicated for use in adults with severe plaque, guttate, pustular, erythrodermic, or palmoplantar psoriasis.

Who Should Not Take Cyclosporine?

Do not take cyclosporine if you have:

  • You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding;
  • You have severe liver or kidney disease;
  • You have high triglycerides; or if
  • You are allergic to retinoids.

Soriatane causes serious birth defects. Because of this risk, women of childbearing potential must have two negative pregnancy tests before starting Soriatane. They must use two effective forms of birth control at least one month before beginning treatment, while on the drug and for three years after stopping treatment. Progestin-only birth control pills may not work while taking Soriatane, so women should avoid using them as a primary form of birth control.

Individuals should not donate blood during treatment and for three years after stopping treatment. Donated blood could expose pregnant women to acitretin.

What Are the Possible Side Effects?

  • Hair loss
  • Chapped lips and dry mouth
  • Dry skin and eyes
  • Bleeding gums and nose bleeds
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight
  • Peeling fingertips and nail changes
  • Changes in blood fat levels
  • Depression
  • Aggressive thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Decreased night vision
  • Elevated liver enzymes

These side effects, and others, tend to go away after stopping the medication or lowering the dosage.

What Are the Potential Drug Interactions?

Your doctor should always be aware of any other medications, therapies or supplements you are using. Avoid dietary supplements with vitamin A. Soriatane is related to vitamin A, and taking vitamin A could add to the unwanted effects of Soriatane.

Women of childbearing potential who use Soriatane must not drink or eat any substance containing alcohol during treatment and for two months after treatment is stopped. Alcohol can cause Soriatane to convert to a form that is very slowly removed from the body, which increases the risk of birth defects if the woman becomes pregnant.

Soriatane can reduce the effectiveness of phenytoin, a common drug for epilepsy, when given at the same time. Soriatane should not be combined with tetracycline (an antibiotic), since both medications can cause increased pressure on the brain, which can have serious consequences.

Can Soriatane Be Used With Other Treatments?

Soriatane is most effective for treating psoriasis when it is used with phototherapy. Soriatane is sometimes used with Enbrel (etanercept) or Remicade (infliximab), and may also be prescribed in rotation with cyclosporine or methotrexate.

As an off-label use, Accutane (isotretinoin) is another oral retinoid that is sometimes used in place of acitretin to treat psoriasis. 

Learn More About Your Treatment Options

The Patient Navigation Center is here to provide personalized information about your psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis treatment.

Stay in the Know.

Expert tips, can’t-miss events and the latest news, straight to your inbox.

National Health Council Standards of ExcellenceCharity Navigator

Copyright © 1996-2020 National Psoriasis Foundation/USA


Duplication, rebroadcast, republication or other use of content appearing on this website is prohibited without written permission of the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).


NPF does not endorse or accept any responsibility for the content of external websites.


NPF does not endorse any specific treatments or medications for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

We use cookies to offer you a better experience and analyze our site traffic. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.