Oral retinoid therapy for dermatologic conditions in children and adolescents

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003 Aug;49(2):171-82; quiz 183-6. doi: 10.1067/s0190-9622(03)01564-0.


The efficacy of systemic retinoid therapy in a number of dermatologic diseases is well established; however, concerns about potential side effects limit their use, especially in children. We review the efficacy and toxicity of oral retinoids in the pediatric population. The acute mucocutaneous toxicities commonly observed are typically well tolerated, readily treatable, and reversible. Systemic toxicities include teratogenicity and effects on the musculoskeletal, neurologic, and gastrointestinal systems. Children, like adults, generally tolerate short-term retinoid therapy without major complications. Concerns regarding serious systemic side effects are greater for those on high doses of oral synthetic retinoids for longer periods of time. Close patient monitoring and patient education can minimize the occurrence of complications. (J Am Acad Dermatol 2003;49:171-82.)Learning objective At the conclusion of this learning activity, participants should be familiar with use of oral retinoids for childhood dermatologic conditions such as psoriasis, acne, and ichthyoses as well as safety and risks associated with oral retinoid use in children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Arthralgia / chemically induced
  • Cheilitis / chemically induced
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy*
  • Retinoids / adverse effects
  • Retinoids / therapeutic use*


  • Retinoids