When dirt, oil and dead skin cells clog the hair follicles of the skin, acne-causing bacteria multiply and cause inflammation. This results in the formation of pimples, cysts and acne blemishes. Tretinoin, also known as Retin-A and Avita, treats acne and reduces the appearance of these blemishes. Discuss tretinoin with your doctor to determine if it would clear up your acne.
Tretinoin comes in gel and cream forms. The gel contains either 0.25 mg strength or 0.1 mg strength, according to Drugs.com. The tretinoin cream contains 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg or 1 mg strength. The gel form of this medication helps people with oily skin, while creams help those who have dry, sensitive skin.
Tretinoin has several functions that help it treat acne. One of these functions is to stimulate cell division. Tretinoin also increases the turnover of cells in the outermost layer of the skin. This inhibits the formation of blackheads and whiteheads (comedones). The action of tretinoin also pushes existing comedones to the surface of the skin.
Avoid using tretinoin in combination with soaps, cleansers, medications and cosmetics that dry the skin. Limit the use of products that contain lime, alcohol and astringents, as they can interact with tretinoin. Anyone using tretinoin topically should avoid tanning beds, sunlamps and excessive exposure to natural sunlight. Protect the skin by wearing sunscreen and covering the body with long sleeves, long pants and wide-brimmed hats.
Wash your hands before applying tretinoin to the skin. This prevents the spread of bacteria from the hands to the face. Clean your skin and dry it thoroughly before applying this medication. Allow the medication to set for one hour before washing the treated area. Do not use cosmetics, lotions or other skin products on the treated area for a minimum of one hour after using tretinoin gel or cream.
Side effects of topical tretinoin include burning, redness, swelling, peeling, crusting and blistering. Some people also experience sun sensitivity while using tretinoin for acne treatment.
Tretinoin effectively reduces both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne, with a reduction of 30 to 40 percent from the baseline within three to four months, according to San Francisco State University. Effectiveness varies based on the strength of the tretinoin used and the patient’s adherence to the treatment regimen.
Scientists do not know if tretinoin harms the fetus during development, putting it in Federal Drug Administration pregnancy category C. If you plan to become pregnant during tretinoin treatment, inform your doctor immediately. This drug does pass into the breast milk, so seek medical advice before breast-feeding a baby.