What is tretinoin (Retin-A), and what is it used for?
Brand name: Retin-A
Generic name: tretinoin
Dosage forms: 0.025% or 0.01% gel, cream, or liquid
Drug class: retinoids
Tretinoin (Retin-A) 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.
Topical tretinoin is used for the treatment of:
What are the side effects of tretinoin?
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.
The common side effects of tretinoin are:
- Excessive dryness
Other side effects of tretinoin include:
- Increased sun sensitivity
- Darkening or lightening of the skin
- Initial acne flare-up
What is the dosage for tretinoin?
- 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.
What drugs interact with tretinoin?
- 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.
Is tretinoin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- There are no adequate studies of topical tretinoin use during pregnancy. Physicians must weigh the potential risks and benefits before prescribing tretinoin during pregnancy.
- 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.
Tretinoin (Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Atralin, Avita) is a topical medication prescribed for the treatment of acne, wrinkles, and skin that has been damaged by excessive exposure to the sun. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy efficacy should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.and precautions, and pregnancy efficacy should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 Rashes: Common Adult Skin Diseases
Learn to spot and treat skin conditions commonly found in adults such as acne, Covid-19 rashes, eczema, shingles, psoriasis,...
Aging: The Surprises of Getting Older
What surprising health changes happen as you grow older? Learn about the memory and brain changes in aging adults, increases in...
Healthy Aging: Want to Stay Youthful? Avoid These Mistakes
Are you worried that you may be aging more quickly than you should? Find out what you may be doing wrong.
Your Guide to Anti-Aging Skin Care Essentials
Some of the most important tricks in the fight against aging come down to the basics. Learn how washing and moisturizing your...
Skin Health: How to Get Clear Skin
Acne, pimples, zits and blemishes often appear on the face, back, chest, neck, and shoulders where skin has the most amount of...
Acne: Causes, Solutions and Treatments for Adults
Adult acne causes include hormones, medications, makeup, and other things. Adult acne is treated with medications, products, face...
See How Your Life Affects Your Skin
See how your life affects your skin. The choices you make every day affect the appearance of your skin. Learn how to avoid dry...
How to Reduce Wrinkles With Lifestyle Changes
If you want to reduce wrinkles under eyes, around eyes, on forehead, on hands and on your face, try these lifestyle changes....
How to Get Rid of Acne: Skin Care Tips
Want to know how to get rid of blackheads? Discover tips on clogged pores, sunscreen SPF and how to remove makeup for different...
Acne: Foods That Cause and Fight Acne and Pimples
How can you get rid of acne breakouts with nutrition? Does this food cause acne? Milk, chocolate, and seaweed are all considered...
Picture of Cystic Acne
Cystic acne is a type of abscess that is formed when oil ducts become clogged and infected. See a picture of Cystic Acne and...
Picture of Phytophotodermatitis Hyperpigmentation
Phytophotodermatitis, a form of plant dermatitis, is a skin reaction that occurs after natural photosensitizing chemicals...
Picture of Erythematous Deep Acne Scars
Acne scarring is a common sequel of severe inflammatory or cystic acne. It can present in a mild or cosmetically disfiguring...
Picture of Acne Vulgaris Nodulocystic
The common form of acne, in teens and young adults, that is due to overactivity of the oil (sebaceous) glands in the skin that...
Dry Skin Quiz
Dry, itching, flaky skin? Take the Dry Skin Quiz to learn what's causing your dry skin and what you can do about it beyond...
Healthy Aging: Ways to Fight the Aging Process
You can’t slow down the clock, but you can make some changes to fight little aches and pains, wrinkles, memory glitches, and...
How to Get Rid of Acne: Medication, Best Treatment, Cystic Acne
What is the best treatment for acne vulgaris? Can food choices influence acne? How can you get rid of blackheads? Learn why it's...
Skin Conditions Quiz: Common Skin Diseases
Could you identify a scabies infestation? Take the Skin Diseases Pictures Quiz and learn to identify common conditions that...
Skin Quiz: Acne, Dry Skin, Dandruff & More
What's that all over you? Skin, of course! Test your knowledge of your most amazing organ with the Skin Quiz!
Acne (Pimples) Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Acne is the most common skin disorder in the world. If you suffer from acne, you are not alone and many treatment options are...
Picture of Acne
Exactly what causes acne? Acne develops when cells and natural oils begin to block up tiny hair follicles in the skin. See a...
Picture of Baby Acne
Pink pimples ("neonatal acne") are often caused by exposure in the womb to maternal hormones. See a picture of Baby Acne and...
Picture of Wrinkles
Wrinkles are a by-product of the aging process. See a picture of Wrinkles and learn more about the health topic.
Sun-Damaged Skin: See Sun Spots, Wrinkles, Sunburns, Skin Cancer
See how sun damaged skin can cause wrinkles, moles, melanoma (skin cancer) and more. Explore images of squamous cell carcinoma...
Acne Care Pictures: Skin Care Dos and Don'ts
Explore quick acne cover-ups, dos and don'ts. See solutions on how to best handle pesky pimples and remedies to avoid.
Eye Health: Changes in Vision as You Age
What are your eye problems? Conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, droopy eyelids, age-related macular degeneration, and other eye...
Healthy Aging: What to Expect in Your 70s
Want to live your best life as you age? Here's what you need to know about your 70s.
Healthy Aging: Vitamins You Need as You Age
Your body needs more of certain vitamins and minerals as you hit your 40s and beyond. Find out which ones will benefit you -- and...
Healthy Aging: What to Expect in Your 50s
Learn more about how your body changes in your 50s -- not all of it is necessarily unwelcome.
Retinoids: Anti-Aging Benefits
First made to fight acne, retinoids are now used to smooth wrinkles. Learn more about these anti-aging drugs.
Related Disease Conditions
Rosacea is a skin disease that causes redness of the forehead, chin, and lower half of the nose. In addition to inflammation of the facial skin, symptoms include dilation of the blood vessels and pimples (acne rosacea) in the middle third of the face. Oral and topical antibiotics are treatments for rosacea. If left untreated, rhinophyma (a disfiguring nose condition) may result.
Acne is a localized skin inflammation as a result of overactivity of oil glands at the base of hair follicles. This inflammation, depending on its location, can take the form of a superficial pustule (contains pus), a pimple, a deeper cyst, congested pores, whiteheads, or blackheads. Treatments vary depending on the severity of the acne.
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease. Lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system. When only the skin is involved, the condition is called discoid lupus. When internal organs are involved, the condition is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Cosmetic Procedures and Wrinkles
Second Source article from WebMD
Keratosis Pilaris (KP)
Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a skin condition in which white bumps appear on the upper arms, thighs, face, and cheeks. The condition tends to come and go.
How Do I Get Rid of Deep Wrinkles Around My Mouth Naturally?
Deep wrinkles near the mouth (also known as perioral wrinkles) appear when ligaments around the mouth and chin loosen. Get rid of deep wrinkles around your mouth by eating an antioxidant-rich diet, adopting healthy lifestyle habits and using good skincare products.
Freckles are flat circular spots on the skin that may be red, yellow, tan, light brown, brown, or black in color. Lentigo is the term used to describe certain types of darker freckles. Ephelis typically appears during the sunny months. Freckles can be prevented with sunscreens, the use of wide-brimmed hats, sun-protective clothing, avoiding peak sun hours, and seeking shade and staying indoors.
How Do You Get Rid of Acne Scars Naturally?
Approximately 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30 years old have acne due to hormonal changes, stress, menses, oil-based cosmetics or birth control pills. A variety of remedies including tea tree oil, coconut oil, honey and other substances may help get rid of acne scars naturally. The dermatologist has prescription treatments and procedures to reduce the appearance of acne scars.
Melasma is a patchy brown discoloration of the skin on the face. When it occurs in pregnancy, it's called chloasma. Melasma is commonly treated with hydroquinone creams.
How Do You Get Rid of Acne Scars Overnight?
Acne breakouts are common and quite frustrating. Strategies to get rid of acne will take time to work, so you must be regular and diligent in their application. Aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, cocoa butter, honey and cinnamon, green tea, tea tree oil and other substances improve skin's appearance.
Which Birth Control Is the Best for Acne and Weight Loss?
Birth control or contraceptive methods include several medications, devices, or tricks for preventing pregnancy. Birth control methods vary in their mode of action, effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, and the presence of any beneficial or undesirable effects.
Cystic acne is distinguished by painful nodules on the chest, face, neck, and back. This form of acne is known to scar. Treatment may incorporate the use of hormonal therapies, oral antibiotics, and prescription medications.
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the elastic middle layer of skin that allows it to retain its shape. When the skin is constantly stretched, the dermis can break down, leaving behind stretch marks.
Sun-Sensitive Drugs (Photosensitivity to Drugs)
Sun sensitivity (photosensitivity) is an inflammation of the skin induced by the combination of medications or substances and sunlight. The effect on the skin is redness, which looks similar to a sunburn. Generally, these reactions are either phototoxic or photoallergic. Phototoxic drugs are more common than photoallergic drugs. Symptoms of phototoxic reactions are a burning and stinging sensation and then redness. Symptoms of photoallergic reactions are itching, redness, swelling, and blisters of the affected area. Treatment generally is the discontinuation of the medication and topical application of creams. Treatment generally is the discontinuation of the medication and topical application of creams.
Sunburn (Sun Poisoning)
Sunburn is caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun. UV rays can also damage the eyes. Repeated overexposure to UV rays also increases the risk of scarring, freckles, wrinkles, and dry skin. Symptoms of sunburn include painful, red, tender, and hot skin. The skin may blister, swell, and peel. Sun poisoning (severe sunburn) includes nausea, fever, chills, rapid pulse, dizziness, and more. Home remedies can help relieve sunburn pain, blisters, and peeling. Severe sunburns may need medical treatment. Sun protection and sunscreen for a person's skin type are recommended to decrease the chance of severe sunburn and sun poisoning.
How Long Does Cystic Acne Last?
What is cystic acne? Learn the signs of cystic acne, what causes cystic acne, how doctors diagnose cystic acne, and what you can do to treat cystic acne.
What Are the Best Treatment Options for Acne Rosacea?
Learn what medical treatments can help ease your rosacea acne symptoms and speed up your recovery.
When dried sebum and dead skin cells block pores, blackheads (open comedones) result. Blackheads often appear on the face in the crevices of the nose, the chin, and cheeks. Prescription topical retinoids are effective treatments for blackheads. Vacuum extractors and pore strips are other options for blackhead removal.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa (Acne Inversa)
Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS or acne inversa) is a chronic skin condition that causes painful red abscesses in the groin and armpits that may drain foul-smelling pus. Treatment options include weight loss, smoking cessation, topical antibiotics, and avoidance of tight-fitting underwear. Finasteride and adalimumab may be helpful for those with resistant cases of HS.
How Do You Get Rid of a Pimple Under the Skin Without Damaging Your Skin
Learn what pimples that occur under the skin are called, and what you can do about them
What Are the 3 Types of Acne Scars?
The 3 types of acne scars include atrophic scars, hypertrophic and keloid scars, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
What Is Considered Severe Acne?
Severe acne causes breakouts that often extend deep into the skin. In severe acne, a single pimple or cyst can stay on the skin for weeks or months at a time. Grade III acne is considered severe acne.
What Is the Difference Between Acne Blackheads and Whiteheads?
Learn the difference between acne whiteheads and blackheads and how to treat each condition.
Wrinkles, whether they be fine line or deep furrows, typically appear on areas of the body that receive a high amount of exposure to the sun. Smoking, light skin type, hairstyle, the way you dress, your occupational and recreational habits, and heredity are all factors that promote wrinkling. Medical treatments for wrinkles include antioxidants, moisturizers, alpha-hydroxy acids, and vitamin A acid. Cosmetic procedures that treat wrinkles include dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, glycolic acid peels, laser resurfacing, Botox, and fillers.
How Do You Treat Cystic Acne?
Whether you get occasional whiteheads or persistent pimples, acne can be painful and frustrating. Luckily, most acne breakouts will clear up on their own. Cystic acne is different. Learn what medical treatments can help ease your cystic acne symptoms and speed up your recovery.
Natural Remedies for Acne Scars
What are acne scars? Learn how to treat acne scars and get rid of acne scars naturally.
How Do You Treat Aging Dry Skin?
Dry skin is common in older adults. Treat aging dry skin my moisturizing, bathing in warm water, and using a soft washcloth.
How Can I Remove Wrinkles From My Face?
Did you recently notice some fine lines on your face? Are you worried about aging faster than usual? These fine lines or wrinkles occur mainly on the parts of the body, which gets the most sun exposure like the face, neck, the back of the hands, and the tops of the forearm. If the fine lines bother you, then there are measures to even out the lines.
Can Drinking Water Get Rid of Acne and Help Clear My Skin?
Keeping your body hydrated is a well-known wellness tip. Water improves other functions that in turn improve the appearance of the skin.
What Is the Best Treatment for Aging Hands?
If you want to turn back the clock on your hands, though, there are plenty of options. The best treatment for aging hands includes chemical peels, fillers, laser treatments, topical treatments, vein reduction and taking measures to prevent further damage.
How Do I Get Rid of Hormonal Acne?
Hormonal acne can be frustrating to deal with, but it’s usually treatable. Learn how to get rid of hormonal acne with these treatment options.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation occurs because of excess production of melanin. Melanin is a pigment that gives the skin its color and is produced by the skin cells called melanocytes.
How Do You Treat Hyperpigmentation on the Face?
Learn what hyperpigmentation is and which medical treatments can help reduce hyperpigmentation on your face.
What Is Botox Used For?
Botox is a drug made from botulinum toxin, which is a neurotoxin that blocks the signaling processes between the nerves. This disturbs the muscle movements, especially muscle contraction that the concerned nerve controls. Extremely small doses of botulinum toxin are used in Botox injections, making Botox a safe drug.
How Does Stress Cause Acne?
Excessive amounts of sudden and prolonged stress may cause changes in the brain and body chemistry. Stress increases the risk of acne by drying out the skin, ramping up oil production and increasing levels of stress hormones which ages the skin.
How to Get Clear Skin: 15 Proven Tips for Fighting Acne
Acne is the most common skin problem that affects more than 80% of people at some point in their life. If not treated properly, it can lead to scars and dark marks on the skin which might take longer to go away.
What Is the Best Treatment for Acne?
There are several treatments for acne available that can help restore your healthy skin. The first step in controlling acne is implementing good skincare habits.
Can You Get Rid of Undereye Wrinkles?
Yes, you can get rid of undereye wrinkles. To know what things can help you do that, let us understand why you get wrinkles.
What Actually Gets Rid of Acne?
We all love surprises, but not all surprises are pleasant. One such surprise being acne or pimple that may appear like an uninvited guest on our face. Often, this may happen right before an important event, such as a function or a presentation. Acne is one of the commonest skin conditions affecting almost everyone at some point in their life.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Wrinkles: The Wrinkle Cure: Nicholas Perricone, MD
- Molluscum Contagiosum
- Anti-Aging Techniques for Your Skin
- Skin: Taking Care of Aging Skin with Diane Young
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Hidradenitis Suppurativa (Acne Inversa)
- Cystic Acne
- Acne: Facing Adult Acne -- Brandith Irwin, MD
- Skin Conditions Picture FAQs
- Skin FAQs
- Acne FAQs
- Dry Skin FAQs
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Accutane (isotretinoin) for Acne linked to birth defects, depression and suicide
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Botox - Smoothing Out the Wrinkles!
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Understanding Actinic Keratosis
- Can Dermabrasion Cure Acne Scars?
- Is it Safe to Use Accutane for Acne?
- Can You Still Retain Symptoms Of PCOD (Acne, Obesity, Etc.) After Hysterectomy?
- How to Get Rid of Acne
- Does Stress Cause Wrinkles?
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Anti-Aging Diet: Eating to Age Gracefully
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- CDC Warns of Potentially Fatal Bacterial Illness on U.S. Gulf Coast
- Helping Others as Volunteers Helps Kids 'Flourish': Study
- FDA Approves Pfizer's RSV Shot for Older Adults
- What to Do When Tough-to-Treat Lymphoma Strikes During Pregnancy
- Rate of Pregnant U.S. Women Who Have Diabetes Keeps Rising
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.