Retinoids are medications that are related structurally and/or functionally to Vitamin-A. They work in the treatment of photodamaged skin to decrease fine wrinkles, skin roughness, hyperpigmentation, and other characteristics that increase with age and sun exposure.
Retinoids are used primarily as anti-acne medication, and with regular use, to improve sun-damaged skin. Initially, Retinoids may irritate the skin causing redness and peeling which is why it is important to start use gradually.
- Start gradually: Start by using the medication 2-3 times weekly, working up to nightly use as tolerated.
- Less is best: Gently rub in the smallest amount possible in a very thin film to all of the areas you would like to treat, avoiding the eyes. A pea-sized amount of medication is appropriate for the entire face.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which other vitamin A products are available that are similar to Retin-A?
A: Retin-A® comes in seven forms including: .025%, .05%, .1% creams, .01%, .025% gels, .05% liquid, and a new gel called Retin-A micro. Renova is also a Tretinoin product in .02% strength in a creamy, gentle, slightly scented base developed for the cosmetic market a number of years ago. These products all are based on the Tretinoin molecule and have been proven to be effective in the treatment of sun-damaged skin through many studies over more than a decade. Tazorac and Differin are also Vitamin-A prescription strength products that are of use to sun-damaged skin. Other vitamin A compounds utilize Retinol as the active ingredient. These products are usually less potent than Tretinoin. Many over-the-counter products contain Retinol or other vitamin A compounds, but their efficacy has not been proven.
Q: What are the side effects of Vitamin A/Retin-A therapy?
A: Retin-A has had an excellent safety record over 20+ years of use. There are no known internal side effects, but it is not recommended during pregnancy. This drug often produces excessive dryness and, at times, redness and irritation–particularly during the early weeks of application. Retin-A also makes the skin more sensitive prior to salon treatments such as waxing or facials. It is important to discontinue Retin-A use several days prior to waxing, facial, or other salon treatments.
Q: Can I use Vitamin A/ Retin-A when I go out in the sun?
A: A common misconception is that Retin-A cannot be used with an active outdoor lifestyle or that it is somehow not safe to use when out in the sun. Retin-A can be drying and irritating, thus making you somewhat more sensitive to the further irritant effects of intense sun exposure. However, it is indeed safe to use Retin-A as long as regular, careful sun protection is always followed.
Q: Is the Retin-A purchased in Mexico equivalent to the US brand?
A: The Retin-A brand is not for sale in Mexico, but the generic equivalent, Tretinoin, is available and sold under a variety of brand names from several reputable companies. The Tretinoin cream products will usually come in .025%, .05% and .1% strengths with names such as Retanycl. As long as the Tretinoin is produced by a reputable company such as Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Steifel, or Galderma it should be fine. The reaction to the cream or its effectiveness may not be the same as its US counterpart since it may be mixed in a different base vehicle with a different feel in some cases. These generic Mexican products are a mere fraction of the cost of a similar product in the states and in many instances can have a similar beneficial effect.
Before and After