GENERIC NAME: tretinoin
BRAND NAME: Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Atralin, Renova, Avita, Renova Pump
DISCONTINUED BRAND: Altinac
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Tretinoin is a derivative of vitamin A. It is used on the skin (topically) in the treatment of mild to moderate acne and on skin that has been damaged by excessive exposure to the sun. Tretinoin irritates the skin and causes the cells of the skin to grow (divide) and die more rapidly, increasing the turnover of cells. The number of layers of cells in the skin actually is reduced. In patients with acne, new cells replace the cells of existing pimples, and the rapid turnover of cells prevents new pimples from forming. By a similar mechanism, tretinoin can reduce some wrinkles, areas of darkened skin (hyperpigmentation), and rough areas of skin, all of which occur in sun-damaged skin. In patients with sun-damaged skin, improvements in the skin usually are seen within the first 3 to 4 weeks of treatment. Brown spots begin to fade after six to eight weeks. Wrinkles decrease or disappear after three to six months. Following application to the skin, a minimal amount of drug is absorbed into the body. The FDA approved topical tretinoin in 1971.
SIDE EFFECTS: Following the application of tretinoin to the skin, there often is local inflammation. This reaction disappears when treatment is stopped. Mild stinging or a sensation of warmth also can occur when applying tretinoin.
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