A Patient's Guide to Acne
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Tretinoin is a variation of vitamin A and is often used as an ingredient to treat acne. This ingredient is often used to treat sun damaged skin as well as acne.


Tretinoin is used in dermatology very commonly. It is used to improve sun-damaged skin primarily, but also improves acne problems too. Like many topical medications for acne, it causes irritation especially when initially used as the skin is not used to the treatment. It takes time for any acne medication to take effect, and this patients need to understand this.


Common side-effects for tretinoin include skin irritation and photosensitivity. Skin irritation is especially common when the medication is first applied. To mitigate these side-effects:

  • Reduce the time that the medication stays on the skin. Remember to wash after 5 minutes to minimize unnecessary exposure.
  • Avoid the sun as much as possible in the area that is treated. Tretinoin causes the skin to become photosensitive, amplifying the effects of the sun.
  • Avoid applying more than instructed in an attempt to treat acne faster.
  • Apply medication when your skin is dry.
  • Use gentle cleansers and light moisturizers.

Brand names

  • Stieva-AŽ cream/gel/solution (Stiefel)
  • Retisol-AŽ (Stiefel)
  • Retin-A MicroŽ 50 g Pump (Johnson & Johnson Inc.)


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