Among the many medications prescribed to treat acne, tretinoin (brand name Retin-A or Retinol Gel) is widely considered one of the best. Besides treating acne, it also helps diminish fine lines and wrinkles and promotes skin renewal for softer, more radiant looking skin. In addition, tretinoin can help lighten dark spots from sun damage or hyperpigmentation. However, before you start using tretinoin, it’s important to understand how it works, how long it may take to see results and potential side effects.
Tretinoin is a type of drug known as a topical retinoid and is derived from vitamin A. It is used to treat a variety of conditions, including acne, keratosis pilaris and blotchy skin from exposure to sunlight. It’s also used as an anti-aging product because it can soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin tone, reduce pore size and prevent the formation of blackheads.
Retinol is a type of vitamin A, and when applied to the skin it works by speeding up the production of new skin cells and increasing cell turnover. It also can penetrate deep into the skin to help prevent clogged pores and reduce redness and inflammation. It’s also thought to stimulate collagen growth, which can firm up the skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Tretinoin can have some side effects, but most of them are mild and go away with continued use. Some of the most common side effects include dry skin, itching and flaking. These side effects are most likely to occur when you first begin using the medication. Use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer to help alleviate these side effects.
If you experience severe or persistent side effects, talk to your doctor or dermatologist. They may want to decrease how often you use the medication, change the strength or type of tretinoin or even stop it altogether. In addition, avoid using products that can irritate your skin such as harsh scrubs or soaps, alcohol-based hand creams or makeup removers and other topical preparations containing benzoyl peroxide, hair removal agents or wart removers.
You should not use tretinoin if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant or are breastfeeding. This medication can pass through breast milk and may harm a baby. It’s also not safe to use if you are taking certain medications, such as Accutane, which is a powerful oral retinoid that has been linked with birth defects.
In one study, groups of people with moderate to severe acne were given tretinoin or a non-therapeutic gel for 12 weeks. The group that received tretinoin showed greater improvements in acne reduction than the control group. tretinoin gel