How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Tazarotene belongs to a group of medications called retinoids. It is used to treat plaque psoriasis and acne vulgaris. The cream form is also used to treat the signs and symptoms (appearance and texture) of premature aging of the skin caused by overexposure to the sun (photodamage).

Tazarotene helps psoriasis by reducing inflammation and keeping skin cell growth down to a normal rate. It appears to help acne partly by keeping skin pores clear. You will begin to see improvement about 1 to 4 weeks after starting the medication, depending on what you are using it for.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

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What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each g of white to slightly off-white emollient cream contains tazarotene 0.05% (w/w) or 0.1%. Nonmedicinal ingredients: benzyl alcohol (as preservative), Carbomer 934P, Carbomer 1342, edetate disodium, medium chain triglycerides, mineral oil, purified water, sodium thiosulfate, sodium hydroxide (to adjust the pH), and sorbitan monooleate.

Each g of colorless to light yellow, translucent homogeneous gel contains tazarotene 0.05% (w/w) or 0.1%. Nonmedicinal ingredients: ascorbic acid, benzyl alcohol, butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene, carbomer 934P, edetate disodium, hexylene glycol, poloxamer 407, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 40, purified water, and tromethamine.

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How should I use this medication?

For psoriasis, apply a thin film of tazarotene cream or gel once daily in the evening only to the affected areas. The skin should be dry before applying the medication. If emollient or moisturizing creams are also being used, apply these first and allow them to absorb into the skin before applying the tazarotene cream or gel.

For acne, gently cleanse and dry the skin. Apply a thin film of cream or gel to the entire face (everything between the hairline, jawline, and ears) once a day in the evening.

For photodamage, remove makeup before applying the cream. Apply a pea-sized amount of cream to the entire face, including a careful application to the eyelids if desired.

Take special care to minimize contact with the eyes, lips, and mucous-producing areas. Make sure the skin is dry before application. If you apply a moisturizer before this medication, allow it to absorb into the skin before applying the tazarotene cream.

This medication may cause increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight. Sunscreen (minimum SPF 30) and protective clothing should be used when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Avoid getting the medication in your eyes, and do not take the medication by mouth. Do not cover the treatment areas with dressings or bandages. Do not apply to skin that is broken or severely inflamed.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose of this medication, do not apply the missed dose but return to your regular schedule as soon as possible. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

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Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use this medication if you:

  • are allergic to tazarotene or any ingredients of the medication
  • are allergic to retinoids (such as isotretinoin or tretinoin)
  • have seborrheic dermatitis
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What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

The following side effects are generally mild and go away as your body becomes used to the medicine; check with your doctor if they continue or become bothersome.

  • burning or stinging after application
  • dryness, itching, peeling, or redness of the skin

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • bleeding
  • burning or stinging of the skin (severe)
  • changes in colour of treated skin
  • deep grooves or lines in skin
  • dryness, itching, peeling, or redness of the skin (severe)
  • pain or swelling of treated skin
  • skin rash (for people with psoriasis only)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Eczema: Retinoids can cause severe irritation of eczema. If you have eczema, your doctor will monitor your while you are using tazarotene.

Exposure to sunlight: This medication can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Make sure you use sunscreen (minimum SPF 30) and protective clothing when exposed to sunlight. People with sunburn should not use tazarotene until they have fully recovered.

Pregnancy: It is recommended that pregnant women do not use tazarotene. Women who may become pregnant should use an effective method of birth control while using this medication. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if tazarotene passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children under 12 years of age.

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What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between tazarotene and any of the following:

  • medications that increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight (e.g., hydrochlorothiazide, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, perphenazine, sulfamethoxazole)
  • other skin products or treatments with strong drying effects such as:
    • electrolysis
    • hair depilatories
    • medicated soaps or shampoos
    • permanent wave solution
    • products containing high amounts of alcohol, astringents, spices, or lime peel
    • waxes
  • other topical (skin-applied) medications

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.