tretinoin, Retin A, Atralin, Renova, Avita, Altinac (cont.)

Pharmacy Author:
Medical and Pharmacy Editor:

PRESCRIBED FOR: Topical tretinoin is used for treating mild to moderate acne, fine wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.

DOSING: Before applying topical tretinoin, the affected area of the skin should be cleansed with soap and dried. Patients should then wait 20 to 30 minutes before applying tretinoin, gently rubbing it into the affected area. The hands should be washed immediately after application. Tretinoin usually is applied once daily, in the evening.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Combining other topical acne medications (for example, salicylic acid) with tretinoin may lead to excessive skin irritation. Use of abrasive soaps or cleansers, astringents, skin waxes and other products that irritate the skin may add to tretinoin-induced skin irritation. Medications [for example, tetracycline (Achromycin)] that cause sun sensitivity should not be combined with tretinoin because of additive sun sensitivity.

PREGNANCY: There are no adequate studies of topical tretinoin use during pregnancy. Physicians must weigh the potential risks and benefits before prescribing tretinoin during pregnancy.

NURSING MOTHERS: It is unknown whether tretinoin is secreted into breast milk. It also is unknown if topically applied tretinoin accumulates to an extent sufficient to be of concern in the infant. Nonetheless, since oral tretinoin is not recommended during lactation, it probably is prudent to avoid nursing during treatment with topical tretinoin.

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. Dryness, scaling, itching, and redness occur frequently. If severe redness, vesicles or crusting develops, a physician should be notified immediately and tretinoin stopped. It may be possible to restart therapy with a lower concentration. Some patients may experience an initial flare up of acne. Some patients using tretinoin develop increased sun sensitivity and are more prone to sunburn (photosensitivity). Therefore, it is advisable to avoid exposing treated areas of the skin to excessive sunlight or UV lamps to reduce the risk of severe sunburn.

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information


Last Editorial Review: 1/4/2012



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