Acne Treatment Journal

Tretinoin Anti-Acne Drug Information
A guide to "tretinoin" a topical anti-acne medication in the retinoid family, including side effects and patient precautions.

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Tretinoin is the active ingredient in brand name topical anti-acne medications such as Retin-A, Avita and Renova.

Tretinoin works by increasing cell turnover and helping to keep skin pores open so that they don't form comedones.

Tretinoin is usually prescribed along with a topical antibiotic or benzoyl peroxide that will penetrate down to the hair follicle and kill the P. Acnes bacteria that causes inflammatory lesions.

Newer topical retinoids that may cause less irritation than tretinoin include Differin (adapalene) and Tazorac (tazarotene).

Tretinoin is in the "retinoid" family of drugs that are derived from naturally occurring Vitamin A.

Some of the mild side effects of using tretinoin based retinoids include stinging, burning, peeling, redness, warmth, dryness, and stinging. Usually these common but mild side effects go away after the first few weeks of using tretinoin since your skin becomes accustomed to the drug.

The only possible severe side effect of tretinoin use is a darkening of the skin. If you notice any change in your skin color while using this medication, stop using immediately and talk to your dermatologist or doctor.

In the rare instance that your skin does change color while using tretinoin, don't panic. Your skin will return to normal in a few months at the most.

Tretinoin is listed on the FDA's (Food & Drug Administration) "Category C" list which means that it should not be used while pregnant or while breastfeeding.

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