Bexarotene skin gel

What is this medication?

BEXAROTENE (bexs AIR oh teen) is used to treat skin lesions in patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.



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What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • an unusual or allergic reaction to bexarotene, vitamin A, other vitamin A analogs or retinoids, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medication?

This medicine is for application to lesions only. Do not apply the gel on or near your eyes, nose, mouth, lips, vagina, tip of penis, rectum, or anus. Wash your hands before and after applying the gel. Follow the instructions on the prescription label. Place a generous coating of gel over the entire surface of each lesion. You should not apply the gel to the healthy skin around the lesion. Proper application should leave some gel visible on the surface of the lesion. Allow 5 to 10 minutes for the gel to dry before covering the treated areas with clothing. If you apply this medicine after your shower or bath, you should wait 20 minutes before applying the gel. You should avoid bathing, showering, or swimming for at least 3 hours after applying this medicine.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.


What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, use only that dose. Do not use double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medication?

This medicine may also interact with the following medications:

  • DEET (N,N diethyl-m-toluamide)-containing insect repellents
  • vitamins and other supplements containing vitamin A

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.


What should I watch for while using this medication?

Do not become pregnant while taking this medicine. Women should inform their doctor if they wish to become pregnant or think they might be pregnant. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. If you are capable of becoming pregnant, you must have a pregnancy test within 1 week before you start therapy and monthly while you are taking this medicine to confirm you are not pregnant. Women must use effective birth control continuously starting 1 month prior to beginning this medicine and until 1 month after stopping it. It is recommended that you use 2 reliable forms of birth control together. Talk to your health care professional or pharmacist for more information. Do not breast-feed an infant while taking this medicine.

Men who have a partner who is pregnant or who is capable of becoming pregnant should use a condom during sexual intercourse while taking this medicine and for 1 month after stopping it.

This medicine can make you more sensitive to the sun. Keep out of the sun. If you cannot avoid being in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen. Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • signs and symptoms of infection like fever or chills; cough; sore throat; pain or trouble passing urine

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • cough
  • headache
  • redness, itching, burning, irritation, and scaling at the area of application
  • swelling of the legs or ankles

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medication?

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees C). Keep away from heat or flame. Protect from humidity. Throw away any unused gel after the expiration date.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

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Note: Introduction and Additional Common Questions written and medically approved by Cleveland Clinic professionals.

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