Retin-A (tretinoin) is a prescription medication primarily used in the treatment of mild to moderately severe acne including comedonal acne (i.e., plenty of whiteheads and blackheads). Like other topical retinoids, it’s derived from Vitamin A and it works by influencing the growth of skin cells and, thus, promoting quick healing.
The Retin-A cost depends on whether it comes in gel or cream formulation, as well as in its strength. Keep in mind that Retin-A is actually a brand name of tretinoin so it may be more expensive than its generic counterpart.
How Does It Work?
Retin-A is a comedolytic meaning that it prevents pore blockages from forming on the skin. When the skin’s pores aren’t clogged, there’s less risk of pimples including blackheads and whiteheads developing.
There are two mechanisms behind Retin-A’s beneficial effects on the skin:
* It speeds up the cell turnover rates resulting in quicker exfoliation and in lesser buildup of dead skin cells within the pore (i.e., follicle). It then decreases comedone formation and, thus, reduces the risk of pimple formation.
* It facilitates the removal of blackheads from the pores (i.e., makes them less sticky, so to speak).
Be sure to use Retin-A according to your doctor’s prescription for best results. If applied properly, it can significantly improve the appearance of acne-riddled skin, along with proper diet and lifestyle habits.
What Are Its Uses?
Retin-A is used for many purposes including:
* Treatment for mild to moderately severe acne
* Improvement of the appearance of acne scars and dark marks
* Reduction of the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as in making the complexion smoother and brighter
Emphasis must be made, however, that Retin-A isn’t effective in the removal of pitted, depressed, or raised acne scars. For these issues, professional scar treatment is the better option.
Retin-A is also effective for pimples that leave dark discolorations after being healed. These dark discolorations are actually post-inflammatory pigmentation, not true scars, and so these can be significantly lightened with the proper and regular application of Retin-A.
How Can You Use It Safely?
While Retin-A may be safe for use on most adults, it should only be used upon your doctor’s prescription due to the risk of side effects. Always read the patient information leaflet and consult with your doctor or pharmacist if you have concerns or questions.
A few tips in using Retin-A:
* Wash your hands before using it.
* Clean the affected skin with a mild cleanser and then pat dry.
* Apply a pea-sized amount on your fingertips and spread into a thin layer over the affected skin.
During the first few weeks of Retin-A use, your acne may worsen. The results can be seen 8 to 12 weeks after initial application so be patient.