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Chronic hand eczema (CHE) is a frequent skin disorder affecting up to 10% of the population and strongly reduces Quality of Life (QoL). The first-line therapeutic strategies for the management of CHE include a change of lifestyle, an education program for the skin and the application of specific emollients. Topical corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors are the most used anti-inflammatory drugs. However, up to 65% of patients require systemic options. Alitretinoin, a retinoid structurally related to vitamin A, is the first systemic treatment approved in the European Union (EU) for severe CHE refractory to potent topical corticosteroids. This review summarizes the available data on the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, efficacy, and safety profile of oral alitretinoin for the treatment of CHE. Alitretinoin can be considered as a valid therapeutic option for the treatment of CHE in patients not responding to ordinary treatments. Clinical trials and real-life experiences showed that it acts effectively on both objective and subjective clinical signs, resulting in a significant improvement in QoL of patients. As for other retinoids, caution should be taken in patients with certain chronic diseases (hepatopathies, kidney failure, hyperlipidemia, thyroid dysfunction) or childbearing potential women.


Maddalena Napolitano, Luca Potestio, Mario De Lucia, Mariateresa Nocerino, Gabriella Fabbrocini, Cataldo Patruno. Alitretinoin for the treatment of severe chronic eczema of the hands. Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy. 2022 Feb;23(2):159-167

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PMID: 34789049

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