Retin A cream (tretinoin)
How does Retin-A work? What will it do for me?
Tretinoin is used to treat certain types of acne. Tretinoin helps acne by exfoliating the skin's outer layer which helps to reduce the formation of blackheads, whiteheads and other acne lesions.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than the ones listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
How should I use Retin-A?
Tretinoin should be applied once daily at bedtime to lightly cover the areas being treated. The area of application should be thoroughly cleansed with a mild soap and water and patted dry with a soft towel. Wait about 20 minutes before applying the medication so your skin is completely dry. The treated area should be washed no more than twice daily. Apply a small amount (about the size of a pea) on your fingertip and spread it on the skin where acne lesions appear. Use only enough medication to cover the affected areas lightly.
Keep the medication away for the corners of the nose, mouth, eyes and mucous membranes. Avoid applying excess amounts as the medication may run into the eyes and other areas that should be avoided. Avoid areas of the skin where you have other problems such as eczema, severely inflamed skin or open skin lesions. After you wash your skin in the morning, it is recommended that you apply a moisturizer or a moisturizer with sunscreen that will not aggravate your acne.
After 3 to 6 weeks of treatment, you may notice new blemishes. Keep using this medication as you will notice a gradual improvement over 8 to 12 weeks.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight, sunlamps, wind, and cold should be avoided during treatment. If exposure to the sun is unavoidable, use a sunscreen with minimum SPF 15 and wear protective clothing.
Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important that this medication be applied on a regular schedule and exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children.
Who should NOT take Retin-A?
Tretinoin should not be used by anyone who is allergic to tretinoin or any of the ingredients of the medication.
What side effects are possible with Retin-A?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- burning, stinging, warmth, or tingling sensation of the skin lasting for a short time after applying
- chapping or slight peeling of the skin
- redness of the skin
- unusual dryness of the skin
- temporary darkening or lightening of the skin
- skin rash
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- excessively red, swollen, blistered or crusted skin
- pain, burning sensation, tenderness, severe irritation, or itchy skin
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for Retin-A?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Application: Avoid excessive use of tretinoin. Avoid contact with the eyes, eyelids, angles of the nose, mouth, easily irritated areas, or other areas where treatment is not intended. Do not apply tretinoin to severely inflamed skin or to open lesions. Do not over-apply the cream. Doing so will not speed up treatment and will irritate your skin.
Skin care: Cosmetics may be used, but thoroughly cleanse the areas to be treated before applying the medication. Try to avoid products applied to the skin that have high concentrations of alcohol, spices or lime as they cause stinging and burning on treated skin. If possible, avoid simultaneous use of harsh abrasives and other skin treatments, including sun lamps.
Hair removal is permitted as usual (e.g., plucking, electrolysis, depilatories) but avoid these procedures at night before applying tretinoin as they may result in skin irritation.
Permanent wave solutions, waxing preparations, and medicated soaps and shampoos can sometimes even irritate skin that is not being treated with this medication. Use caution so that these products do not come into contact with skin treated with tretinoin.
Skin irritation: Some people may experience temporary skin irritation, especially in early weeks of treatment. Should excessive reactions occur, and the skin becomes extremely red, swollen, and crusted, the medication should be stopped and you should contact your doctor.
An apparent worsening may develop due to the medication's effect on existing deep lesions. This is a normal part of the treatment effect. Treatment should be continued.
Sunlight exposure: Exposure to sunlight, including ultraviolet sunlamps, may cause more irritation. Therefore, avoid or minimize this type of exposure during the use of tretinoin. If you cannot avoid exposure to sunlight, use sunscreen products (minimum SPF 15) and wear protective clothing over treated areas.
Pregnancy: This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Women who may become pregnant should use an effective method of birth control while they are using this medication. If you become pregnant while using this medication, stop using it and contact your doctor.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if tretinoin passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.
What other drugs could interact with Retin-A?
There may be an interaction between tretinoin and any of the following:
- other skin-applied medications
- medicated or abrasive soaps and cleansers
- soaps and cosmetics with a strong drying effect
- products with high concentrations of alcohol, astringents, spices or lime
- skin preparations containing sulfur, resorcinol or salicylic acid
- medications that increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight (e.g., isotretinoin, sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, minocycline)
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.