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Cutis. 1999 Mar;63(3):142-4.

Tretinoin-induced sticky skin: a case report and review of the literature.

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  • 1Division of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, USA.


Sticky skin has been reported relatively infrequently in the literature in association with etretinate and doxorubicin/ketoconazole administration. It has a poorly understood pathogenesis, and the associated histologic changes have not been described. We report a case of a patient who experienced sticky skin in areas treated with tretinoin. These reverted to normal after cessation of treatment. In comparison to a biopsy taken while the skin was not sticky, the histologic findings included a thickened, compact stratum corneum and granulosum. The basal epithelial cells showed proliferation with slight crowding and a tall, columnar shape. To our knowledge, this is the first report of sticky skin occurring in response to topical retinoid application. We suggest that the histologic changes observed could represent a modified keratin maturation profile.

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