- Adult Acne Slideshow Pictures
- Take the Acne (Pimples) Quiz!
- Helping Your Teen With Acne Slideshow Pictures
- What is tretinoin (Retn-A)? How does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What are the uses for tretinoin?
- What are the side effects of tretinoin?
- What is the dosage for tretinoin?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with tretinoin?
- Is tretinoin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about tretinoin?
What is tretinoin (Retn-A)? How does it work (mechanism of action)?
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.
What are the uses for tretinoin?
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.
Which drugs or supplements 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.
What else should I know about tretinoin?
- The brand names available in the US for tretinoin are Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Atralin, Renova, and Avita.
- Tretinoin is available as a:
- Gel: 0.01%, 0.025%, 0.04%, 0.05%, 0.1%.
- Cream: 0.02%, 0.025%, 0.0375%, 0.05%, and 0.1%.
- Solution: 0.05%.
- Capsule: 10 mg.
- Tretinoin should be store at room temperature, between 15 C - 25 C (59 F - 77 F).
- Tretinoin is available in generic form. You need a prescription from your doctor for this medication.
Quick GuideAdult Acne (Pimples) Causes and Treatments
Tretinoin (Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Atralin, Renova, 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: Common Adult Skin Diseases
Learn to spot and treat skin conditions commonly found in adults such as acne, eczema, shingles, psoriasis, rosacea, hives, cold...
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!...
Dry Skin Quiz: Test Your Dry Skin IQ
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...
Picture of Wrinkles
Wrinkles are a by-product of the aging process. See a picture of Wrinkles and learn more about the health topic....
Skin Health: 15 Tips for Clear Skin
Acne, pimples, zits and blemishes often appear on the face, back, chest, neck, and shoulders where skin has the most amount of...
Sun-Damaged Skin: Pictures of Sun Spots, Wrinkles, Sunburns
See how sun damaged skin can cause wrinkles, moles, melanoma (skin cancer) and more. Explore sunburn relief and how actinic...
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....
Acne: Best and Worst Foods for Acne
Can what you eat cause a breakout -- or clear up your skin? Find out more about how some foods can affect your acne....
Skin Care to Prevent Wrinkles, Aging Skin, and Dry Skin With Pictures
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 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...
Related Disease Conditions
Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common skin disorder in which small white or red bumps appear around hair follicles on the upper...
Acne is a localized skin inflammation as a result of overactivity of oil glands at the base of hair follicles. This...
Rosacea is a skin disease that causes redness of the forehead, chin, and lower half of the nose. In addition to inflammation of...
Cystic acne is distinguised by painful nodules on the chest, face, neck, and back. This formo of acne is known to scar. Treatment...
Melasma is a patchy brown discoloration of the skin on the face. When it occurs in pregnancy, it's called chloasma. Melasma is...
Freckles are flat circular spots on the skin that may be red, yellow, tan, light brown, brown, or black in color. Lentigo is the...
Sun-Sensitive Drugs (Photosensitivity to Drugs)
Sun sensitivity (photosensitivity) is an inflammation of the skin induced by the combination of medications or substances and...
Wrinkles, whether they be fine line or deep furrows, typically appear on areas of the body that receive a high amount of exposure...
When dried sebum and dead skin cells block pores, blackheads (open comedones) result. Blackheads often appear on the face in the...
Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the elastic middle layer of skin that allows it to retain its shape. When the skin is...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Skin Conditions Picture FAQs
- Skin FAQs
- Dry Skin FAQs
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Understanding Actinic Keratosis
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
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.