Tretinoin belongs to the class of retinoid medications, which are utilized to treat acne. It is also prescribed as a treatment to minimize the appearance of fine wrinkles, and to enhance skin texture, addressing issues such as spotty discoloration and roughness.
To achieve optimal results, tretinoin is often recommended in conjunction with other skincare programs and measures to avoid exposure to sunlight. Its mechanism of action involves facilitating the shedding of affected skin areas and unclogging pores.
Uses and Dosage
Tretinoin is available in different forms, including lotion, cream, and gel. Typically, tretinoin is applied once daily before bedtime, following the instructions provided on the prescription label. Use tretinoin exactly as directed by your doctor and not to use more or less of it or more frequently than prescribed.
While tretinoin can effectively manage acne, it does not provide a cure. During the first 7 to 10 days of treatment, acne sores may appear more red and scaly, continue using the medication as prescribed to allow the sores to clear up. Improvement usually becomes noticeable after 2 to 3 weeks of regular use, although it may take up to 6 weeks or longer.
Tretinoin may also help to reduce fine wrinkles, spotty discoloration, and rough skin, but it does not offer a permanent solution to these problems. Improvement may take several months, and if the medication is discontinued, any gains achieved may gradually diminish.
When using tretinoin, avoid using topical preparations containing high levels of alcohol, menthol, spices, or lime, such as astringents, perfumes, or shaving lotions, as they can cause skin irritation, especially during the initial stages of treatment.
Refrain from using other topical medications, such as benzoyl peroxide, hair removers, salicylic acid, and sulfur or resorcinol-containing dandruff shampoos, unless directed to do so by your doctor. If you have recently used any of these topical medications, check with your doctor before starting tretinoin.
Your doctor may suggest using a moisturizer to alleviate dryness associated with tretinoin use.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- warmth or slight stinging of the skin
- lightening or darkening of the skin
- red, scaling skin
- increase in acne sores
- swelling, blistering, or crusting of the skin
- dryness, stinging, peeling, redness, or flaky skin at the treatment area
Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any serious side effects:
- pain or discomfort at the treatment area
Before using tretinoin, inform your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to the medication or to vitamin A-related drugs (such as isotretinoin) or have any other allergies. Tretinoin may contain inactive ingredients, such as fish proteins, that can cause an allergic reaction or other issues.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, particularly if you have eczema, before using this medication.
This medication can increase your sensitivity to the sun. To prevent skin irritation, limit your exposure to the sun, avoid tanning booths and sunlamps, and wear protective clothing and sunscreen whenever you’re outside. If you experience sunburn or skin blisters/redness, contact your doctor immediately. Wait until your skin has fully recovered from sunburn before using tretinoin.
Avoid using electrolysis, waxing, or chemical depilatories to remove hair on treated areas while using tretinoin.
If you have recently used products containing sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid, be cautious when using tretinoin. Wait until the effects of these products on the skin have diminished before applying tretinoin.
During pregnancy, tretinoin should only be used if necessary and prescribed by a doctor as it may harm the fetus. Discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor before using this medication.
It is not clear whether tretinoin passes into breast milk. Speak with your doctor before breastfeeding while using this medication.
Form and Strength
Retin-A Cream is available in the following forms and strengths:
Retin-A Cream cream:
How long do I have to use Retin-A Cream before I see results?
It might take two or three weeks of using Retin-A to see any benefits. However, in some cases, it may take six weeks or more.
Is long-term use of Retin-A Cream safe?
There have been various studies on its long-term safety and effectiveness, showing that Retin-A Cream is safe for long-term use.