Tretinoin cream can be an effective treatment for acne and sun-damaged skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and dark spots. However, it can also irritate the skin, and it can take weeks or even months to see results. It’s important to use it exactly as your GP or dermatologist recommends in order to minimise the risks.
Often referred to by the brand name Retin-A, tretinoin is a form of synthetic vitamin A that is prescribed for treating acne and sun-damaged skin. It’s also sometimes used to help with melasma, a type of skin pigmentation that can occur due to pregnancy or hormonal changes. It works by speeding up the skin’s natural turnover of cells, reducing the appearance of surface wrinkles and brown marks left by sun damage. It can also minimize pores, improve the appearance of enlarged pores and decrease oily sebum production.
The active ingredient in tretinoin is called retinoic acid. It is a form of vitamin A and helps the skin cells to turn over more quickly, which can help reduce fine lines and dark spots from sun damage. It’s also known to help treat the inflammation that can be caused by certain types of acne, as well as minimizing the size of oil glands and helping control the amount of oil produced (Leyden, 2017).
In addition to reducing the appearance of fine lines and dark marks from sun damage, tretinoin is also thought to improve the skin’s elasticity, which can be a concern with older adults. The skin’s elasticity can also be improved by using moisturizer and regular sunscreen applications.
Before applying tretinoin, make sure the skin is clean and free of makeup and any other skin care products. Wash the face with a mild non-medicated soap and be careful not to overwash or scrub. Washing too much and scrubbing harshly can actually worsen the condition of the skin. After washing, wait 20 to 30 minutes before applying the medication.
Apply a thin layer of tretinoin to the affected areas. Only a small amount is needed; most people only require about a pea-sized amount for their entire face. Rub the product in a gentle manner, using the fingertips or a soft washcloth. Avoid squeezing or scratching the skin, as this can cause more irritation.
Once applied, the medication may sting slightly for about 30 seconds. After this, the skin will feel a little dry and flaky, but this should quickly pass. A good moisturizer will help with this, and it should be applied as soon as possible after tretinoin has been applied to the skin.
During therapy, the skin may become more sensitive to sunlight, both natural and artificial (from sunlamps). Overexposure to the sun over time can cause early skin aging and increase the risk of cancer. It’s therefore important to protect the skin by finding shade, using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing and hats. This medication should not be used if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. tretinoin cream