- Adult Acne Slideshow Pictures
- Take the Acne (Pimples) Quiz!
- Helping Your Teen With Acne Slideshow Pictures
- What is tretinoin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for tretinoin?
- Is tretinoin available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for tretinoin?
- 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, and 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?
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:
- itching, and
Quick GuideAdult Acne (Pimples) Causes and Treatments
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?
What preparations of tretinoin are available?
Gel: 0.01%, 0.025%, 0.04%, 0.05%, and 0.1%. Cream: 0.02%, 0.025%, 0.0375%, 0.05%, and 0.1%. Solution: 0.05%. Capsule: 10 mg.
How should I keep tretinoin stored?
Tretinoin should be store at room temperature, between 15 C - 25 C (59 F - 77 F).
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
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
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...
Related Disease Conditions
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...
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease....
Heart Attack Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management....
Sun-Sensitive Drugs (Photosensitivity to Drugs)
Sun sensitivity (photosensitivity) is an inflammation of the skin induced by the combination of medications or substances and...
Sunscreens are crucial for sun protection. Sun damage to the skin from exposure to ultraviolet rays is a risk factor for skin...
Freckles are flat circular spots on the skin that may be red, yellow, tan, light brown, brown, or black in color. Lentigo is the...
Wrinkles, whether they be fine line or deep furrows, typically appear on areas of the body that receive a high amount of exposure...
Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the elastic middle layer of skin that allows it to retain its shape. When the skin is...
Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common skin disorder in which small white or red bumps appear around hair follicles on the upper...
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...
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease that causes pink painless bumps on the skin. It typically resolves in six to 12 months....
Ingrown hairs may be caused by improper shaving, waxing, or blockage of the hair follicle. Symptoms and signs of ingrown hairs...
Melasma is a patchy brown discoloration of the skin on the face. When it occurs in pregnancy, it's called chloasma. Melasma is...
Cystic acne is distinguised by painful nodules on the chest, face, neck, and back. This formo of acne is known to scar. Treatment...
When dried sebum and dead skin cells block pores, blackheads (open comedones) result. Blackheads often appear on the face in the...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Understanding Actinic Keratosis
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
Quick GuideAdult Acne (Pimples) Causes and Treatments
Daily Health News
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Skin Care & Conditions Newsletter
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.
Top tretinoin Related ArticlesComplete List
AcneAcne 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.
Chemical PeelChemical peels are performed to reduce fine lines, treat wrinkles, improve the appearance of mild scarring, treat some types of acne, and reduce age spots. During the treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the skin. The skin blisters and eventually peels off.
FrecklesFreckles 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 appear 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.
Heart Attack and Atherosclerosis Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management. Symptoms of heart attack in men and women include chest discomfort and pain in the shoulder, neck, jaw, stomach, or back. Women experience the same symptoms as men; however, they also may experience:
- Extreme fatigue
- Pain in the upper abdomen
Leading a healthy lifestyle with a heart healthy low-fat diet, and exercise can help prevent heart disease and heart attack.
RosaceaRosacea 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.
15 Tips for Clear SkinAcne, pimples, zits and blemishes often appear on the face, back, chest, neck, and shoulders where skin has the most amount of oil glands. Few of us are immune to breakouts, but treatments can minimize outbreaks. Follow these 15 tips for a clear complexion and skin.
Stretch MarksStretch 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 Protection and SunscreensSunscreens are crucial for sun protection. Sun damage to the skin from exposure to ultraviolet rays is a risk factor for skin cancer and melanoma. To avoid sunburn, people should limit sun exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., wear protective clothing, and use a sunscreen. People with sensitive skin should use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.
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:
- swelling, and
- blisters of the affected area.
Systemic LupusSystemic 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).
WrinklesWrinkles, 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.
Wrinkles PictureWrinkles are a by-product of the aging process. See a picture of Wrinkles and learn more about the health topic.