Tretinoin reduces wrinkles, clears acne and evens skin tone. It also increases cell turnover and decreases the amount of pigment produced in your skin.
Tretinoin is a very effective treatment but it can cause initial sensitivity or peeling. It can also take 8-12 weeks to see results.
Start with a low concentration, apply every third night and increase frequency as tolerated.
Increased Epidermal Turnover
Retinoin works by increasing the production of new skin cells and causing them to shed dead skin cells more quickly. This helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sun damage to the skin.
Retinoids also help dark spots fade to reveal a more even skin tone. This is because they decrease the amount of melanin produced by skin cells.
When tretinoin is applied to the skin, it interacts with a protein called retinoic acid receptor alpha (RARa). RARa and its partner retinoic acid receptor beta (RXR) are transcription factors that regulate cell division.
Apply tretinoin to cleansed skin each evening before bedtime. Do not use it on cuts, scrapes, or sunburns. Keep it away from your eyes, mouth, and the corners of your nose. If it gets into your eyes, wash them immediately with large amounts of water. Talk to your doctor before using tretinoin if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The medication may pass through your milk and harm your baby.
Increased Collagen Production
Tretinoin is effective in the treatment of fine lines and wrinkles, skin sallowness, texture, pigmentation and acne. It unclogs pores, reduces inflammation and stimulates collagen production. It helps to restore the elasticity of the skin and diminishes age spots and sun damage.
Using the correct concentration of tretinoin is key. Too high and the skin may become irritated. A dermatologist can recommend the right strength to start with and a ramp up from lower concentrations.
While using tretinoin, patients should use gentle soaps and pat (do not rub) the face dry 2 to 3 times per day. It is important to avoid sunlight and tanning beds while on tretinoin, as it makes the skin more sensitive to light. They should also use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, even on cloudy days. Patients should also wear protective clothing and hats when going outdoors. They should also encourage the use of moisturizers that are non-comedogenic.
Reduced Risk of Acne
Originally used for hormonal acne (acne caused by fluctuations in androgen levels, often seen a few days before menstruation), retinoids have long been known to unclog pores and encourage the normal flow of sebum. In addition to its comedolytic properties, tretinoin also reduces the inflammation that can lead to acne breakouts by blocking the release of proinflammatory molecules.
It is important to note that tretinoin will make your skin sensitive and vulnerable to sun damage. You will need to be extra careful when applying sunscreen or using other sun-care products and should regularly use a broad-spectrum SPF 15+ moisturizer. It is also possible that your acne will worsen for the first few weeks while you are on this medication; this is normal and should resolve itself within 8 to 12 weeks. If your acne does not improve, talk to your doctor about other options. Do not apply tretinoin to irritated or sunburned skin and do not get it in your eyes.
Reduced Risk of Sun Damage
Tretinoin works to reverse some of the damage caused by sun exposure. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet rays invisibly penetrate the skin and cause damage to microscopic cells known as fibroblasts. This damage causes the skin to lose its elasticity, creates fine wrinkles and mottled pigmentation, and increases the risk of skin cancer.
Retinoids, such as tretinoin, stimulate the growth of new skin and decrease the appearance of fine lines. They also increase collagen production, which helps reduce wrinkling and even out the skin’s tone and texture.
While retinoids are extremely effective in treating and preventing acne, it is important to be aware that they do make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Using a broad-spectrum, high SPF sunscreen and reapplying it frequently is essential. Additionally, a moisturizer that is non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) is recommended. If you experience severe dryness or flaking, consult your doctor. They may suggest that you apply a small amount of tretinoin at night before applying your moisturizer to minimize irritation.