How to use tretinoin cream (Retin-A)


Tretinoin (trade names Retin-A, Avita, Renova) is a derivative of vitamin A and is the preferred treatment for comedonic acne and black and white pimples. It works by increasing the renewal of skin cells, which helps to expel the clogged material in the follicle. It also prevents the formation of new comedones .

Tretinoin is the only topical drug that has been shown to improve the appearance of wrinkles .

Get Medication Information / Brianna Gilmartin

How Retin-A works

The effect of increased skin cell renewal can manifest itself in the form of irritation and peeling. For this reason, many people stop using Retin-A after a couple of days or weeks and then think that it has not worked.

It is important to understand that Retin-A is very effective for whiteheads and blackheads, but it can take six to nine weeks to see a noticeable difference in acne. And it takes at least six months to see a noticeable difference in wrinkles. In fact, the greatest benefit is seen when Retin-A has been used for at least one year .

How to use tretinoin cream

If you're wondering how to use tretinoin cream, here are some guidelines to help you reap the full benefits.

  • Apply Retin-A in a thin layer overnight. A small amount matters a lot.
  • In the morning, wash off with a mild facial scrub or a thick cloth. This will help reduce noticeable flaking.
  • After washing your face, apply a good water-based moisturizer. (Yes, friends, that also applies to you.) The moisturizer will make the drying effect of the medicine more bearable.
  • If it peels off during the day, wipe it off and apply more moisturizer, or just apply a moisturizer.
  • Try using a moisturizer that also contains sunscreen. Otherwise, apply sunscreen every time you are out in the sun, even for a short time. Tretinoin makes you more susceptible to sunburn.

When you start using Retin-A, apply it every other night or every third night. The side effects of flaking and irritation are usually most severe in the first two weeks of use. As your skin gets used to the medicine, you will be able to use it more often .

If you notice increased irritation or flaking, you can take a break for a couple of days. Just don't stop taking the medicine completely without talking to your doctor.

Common side effects

If you have sensitive skin, common Retin-A side effects include:

  • Red, swollen, blistered, or scabbed skin
  • Burning, heat, tingling, tingling, itching, dryness, peeling, or irritation where the medicine was applied
  • Skin discoloration (darker or lighter)

Tell your doctor if you experience any of these side effects. Use may need to be discontinued as Retin-A should not be used on broken skin.

Associated risks

As mentioned above, tretinoin makes you more susceptible to sunburn. If you get sunburned, do not use this medicine on sunburned skin. Wait for the skin to fully recover from the burn before using it again.

Additionally, Retin-A can interact negatively with other topical medications, especially those that contain sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid. To avoid dangerous interactions, be sure to tell your doctor about all topical and oral, over-the-counter, and prescription medications you are taking.

Talk to your doctor about how to use this medicine if you are considering pregnancy, pregnant, or breastfeeding.

There are risks associated with the use of Retin-A during pregnancy; therefore, it should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Similarly, caution should be exercised when using Retin-A while breastfeeding .

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