What You Should Know About Tretinoin

Tretinoin is a prescription medication that can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It works by increasing your skin’s natural cellular turnover rate.

Faster cell turnover helps limit acne breakouts, & smooth new cells reduce surface pigmentation & rough skin texture. It also stimulates collagen production, which keeps your skin looking firmer & younger.

How It Works

Retinoin is in a class of skin-care medications called retinoids. They all have vitamin A at their core, which the body converts into retinoic acid and then into other forms. Tretinoin is the most powerful, but it also comes in different strengths and forms and is found in a wide range of topical skincare products.

It’s a mainstay of acne treatment because it unclogs pores, decreases oil production, and reduces inflammation. But it’s also effective for fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and hyperpigmentation, which is why dermatologists prescribe it to patients with more than just acute acne.

It also helps prevent photoaging, which is the premature aging caused by sun exposure. It does this by blocking the enzyme tyrosinase, which produces the pigment that gives skin its color. However, it won’t reverse genetic aging or damage from other sources. That’s why it’s so important to use sunscreen.

Side Effects

Although tretinoin can improve discoloration, fine wrinkles, and skin texture, it is also very powerful and can cause side effects that may be severe. These can include redness, dryness, peeling, and increased sun sensitivity. Patients should be encouraged to use sunscreen and avoid direct sun exposure. Patients should also tell their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding, as there haven’t been enough controlled studies to determine the drug’s safety for these populations.

It can take three to six months for patients to see the full benefits of this medication. It’s important for patients to visit their care team often for regular checks. They will usually have blood work drawn and undergo physical examinations and scans to monitor for signs of a serious group of side effects called retinoic acid syndrome (RA-APL). Patients are also encouraged to report any changes in their skin or the way this medication makes them feel, especially if it is causing a lot of irritation.


Before you start using this product, talk to your doctor if you have serious medical problems or a history of skin diseases. Also, it is not recommended for pregnant women or breast-feeding mothers (Yoham, 2020).

The first few weeks of using this medication may cause your acne to get worse because the drug is working on pimples that are forming inside your skin. However, your skin will improve after several weeks of regular use.

This product can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Therefore, it is important to avoid prolonged sun exposure & wear protective clothing. This medication can also irritate cuts, scrapes, or eczema-affected skin. Do not put this medication on these areas. If it gets into your eyes, wash them with large amounts of water & call your doctor right away.

Do not use other topical medications on the face unless your doctor tells you to. This includes astringents, facial scrubs, and other products with alcohol, menthol, or spices.


Tretinoin can improve sun-damaged skin by increasing the cell turnover of the top layer. This can reduce discoloration, fine lines, and unevenness of tone. It can also help tighten skin (Yoham, 2020; Zasada, 2019). It’s important to use sunscreen with a high SPF every day while using tretinoin.

Acne – Tretinoin is one of the most effective ingredients available to treat acne (Leyden, 2017). It can improve breakouts by unclogging pores and decreasing oil production, which allows new cells to form without an inflammatory reaction.

It’s also a popular treatment for skin cancers, including BCC and invasive SCC. It can decrease the number and size of KCs, and in one large study in people with moderate-to-severe UV-damage, tretinoin was more effective than a placebo in preventing the development of new BCCs and SCCs. (Weinstock et al., 2009a) TretinoinYouth

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