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Bexarotene (On the skin)

Bexarotene (bex-ER-oh-teen)

Treats skin sores. This medicine is a retinoid.

Brand Name(s):


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. Do not use it if you had an allergic reaction to bexarotene or if you are pregnant.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to apply and how often. Do not use more medicine or apply it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you use this medicine.
  • Use this medicine only on your skin. Rinse it off right away if it gets on a cut or scrape. Do not get the medicine in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Apply enough gel to cover the sore completely and thoroughly. Be careful to not get any gel on the skin around the sore.
  • Allow the treated area to dry before you put clothes on. Do not cover the treated area with a bandage unless directed by your doctor.
  • You may need to use the gel for at least 4 weeks before the sores begin to get better.
  • Missed dose: Apply a dose as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and apply a regular dose. Do not apply extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist or doctor how to dispose of the medicine container and any leftover or expired medicine.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

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

  • Some medicines and foods can affect how bexarotene works. Tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following:
    • Erythromycin
    • Ketoconazole
    • Itraconazole
    • Vitamin A supplements or multivitamins
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this medicine.
  • Do not use any product that contains DEET while you are being treated with bexarotene. DEET is a common ingredient in many insect repellents.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • This medicine may cause birth defects if either partner is using it during conception or pregnancy. Tell your doctor right away if you or your partner becomes pregnant. Use 2 forms of birth control beginning 1 month before you start using bexarotene and continuing until 1 month after you stop.
  • You must have a negative pregnancy test before you will be allowed to take this medicine. You will also be required to have a pregnancy test 1 week before treatment and every month during your treatment.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding, you had a reaction to other retinoids (such as etretinate, tretinoin, or isotretinoin), or you have liver or kidney disease.
  • This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Wear sunscreen. Do not use sunlamps or tanning beds.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

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

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Rash, itching, blistering, redness, or pain where you have applied the medicine

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: 5/1/2020

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

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