Aminolevulinic acid is used in combination with photodynamic therapy (PDT; special blue light) to treat actinic keratoses (small crusty or scaly bumps or horns on or under the skin that result from exposure to sunlight and can develop into skin cancer) of the face or scalp. Aminolevulinic acid is in a class of medications called photosensitizing agents. When aminolevulinic acid is activated by light, it damages the cells of actinic keratosis lesions.
Aminolevulinic acid comes in a special applicator to be made into a solution and applied to the affected skin area by a doctor. You must return to the doctor 14 to 18 hours after aminolevulinic acid application to be treated by blue light PDT. For example, if you have aminolevulinic acid applied in the late afternoon, you will need to have the blue light treatment the next morning. You will be given special goggles to protect your eyes during blue light treatment.
Do not put a dressing or bandage on the area treated with aminolevulinic acid. Keep the treated area dry until you go back to the doctor for blue light treatment.
Your doctor will examine you 8 weeks after aminolevulinic acid and PDT treatment to decide whether you need retreatment of the same skin area.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before using aminolevulinic acid,
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
If you cannot return to the doctor for blue light treatment 14 to 18 hours after levulinic acid application, call your doctor. Continue to protect treated skin from sunlight or other strong light for at least 40 hours.
Aminolevulinic acid may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Aminolevulinic acid may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at Web Site. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911. Protect skin from sunlight or other strong light for at least 40 hours.
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Last Reviewed: September 1, 2010.