Background: Retinoids can affect epithelial structure and function. Patients who take etretinate can develop stickiness of their palms and soles. Objective: We measured carcinoembryonic antigen, a representative glycoprotein in palmar scrapings, to see whether levels were increased in patients taking etretinate when compared with a variety of controls. Methods: Carcinoembryonic antigen was measured by a standard immunoassay in scrapings taken from the palm. Results: Carcinoembryonic antigen is increased in palmar scrapings in patients taking etretinate. Conclusion: Etretinate usage may affect sweat gland function or possibly adherence of carcinoembryonic antigen to surface keratinocytes. The presence of increased amounts of glycoprotein on the surface of the skin may explain the stickiness often noted by patients taking etretinate.