A powerful topical cream, tretinoin is one of the best prescription acne treatments. It also works well to reduce fine wrinkles and discoloration associated with aging and sun damage. It works by increasing epidermal turnover, speeding up the skin’s process of shedding old cells and replacing them with new ones. Because of this, it can take a few weeks or even months to start seeing results from using tretinoin cream. It can also cause redness, scaling and irritation, especially during the first 2-4 weeks of use. To reduce these side effects, it is important to wash your face gently with a mild soap and moisturize daily.
Tretinoin is often prescribed to treat acne because it helps to minimize the appearance of blackheads, pimples and other red bumps, and prevents scarring that can occur from acne. It also slows down the production of sebum (oil) in your skin’s pores, which can lead to acne breakouts.
It also decreases the amount of melanin in your skin. This can help to prevent dark areas of skin pigmentation called “liver spots,” which can develop over time from sun exposure. A study published in 1989 found that regular use of a 0.05% tretinoin cream for six months significantly reduced the development of these areas of skin discoloration (Leyden, 1989).
As with other medications, it is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist about any prescription or over-the-counter medicines or supplements you are taking. Tretinoin may interact with some drugs and can increase the risk of bleeding or bruising if you are taking blood thinners such as aspirin, ibuprofen or clopidogrel. It can also increase your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes and can make certain oral diabetic medicines less effective.
Before applying tretinoin, be sure your face is completely clean. Wash with a gentle soap or non-irritating cleanser and pat it dry with a soft towel. Then, squeeze a pea-sized amount of tretinoin gel, cream or lotion onto your finger and gently apply it to your face. Spend about two minutes massaging it into your skin. Be careful not to apply it near your eyes, lips or nostrils.
Using too much tretinoin or using it too frequently can cause skin irritation, dryness and burning. It can also increase your sensitivity to the sun, and you should use a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 every day.
Some tretinoin preparations contain fish protein and should be used with caution if you have an allergy to seafood. These include the tretinoin lotion Altreno and some tretinoin gels. Always let your doctor know if you are allergic to fish or any other foods, including dairy products or soy. tretinoin cream