Medication-induced intracranial hypertension in dermatology

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2005;6(1):29-37. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200506010-00004.


Pseudotumor cerebri (PTC) is a syndrome of intracranial hypertension that is idiopathic or from an identified secondary cause. It is characterized by headaches and visual manifestations. The hallmark of PTC is papilledema and the feared consequence is visual loss that may be severe and permanent. The idiopathic form generally occurs in obese women of childbearing age. Various medications may produce PTC in patients at any age, including children. Several medications used in dermatology, particularly those used in the treatment of acne vulgaris, are associated with PTC. There is a strong association with tetracycline usage. Minocycline and doxycycline have also been linked to PTC, although there are relatively few reported cases. PTC has also been described with retinoids, including vitamin A (retinol) and isotretinoin. Although corticosteroids are often used to lower intracranial pressure acutely, corticosteroid withdrawal after long-term administration may induce increased intracranial pressure. A high index of suspicion, early diagnosis and treatment generally yield a good prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / adverse effects
  • Dermatology
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypertension / chemically induced*
  • Intracranial Hypertension / etiology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / chemically induced
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri / etiology
  • Retinoids / adverse effects*
  • Tetracyclines / adverse effects*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Retinoids
  • Tetracyclines