Tretinoin cream is a widely used prescription drug that is particularly effective at treating skin blemishes and conditions that affect the appearance of skin. Due to its versatility, tretinoin is one of the most widely prescribed medications in the world.
Tretinoin is an acidic derivative of Vitamin A and has been in use since 1971, when the FDA approved it to treat acne. Tretinoin works by speeding up cell growth so that skin cells “turn over” more quickly as well as increasing collagen production, a vital component for healthy skin. For this reason, it is sometimes used to treat fine wrinkles and any signs of aging. The drug is most commonly prescribed as Retin-A.
From wrinkles caused by old age to pimples and acne, the ointment has proven to be effective in treating a range of conditions. The lotion can also be used to treat depigmentation and skin discolorations. The cream directly affects the outer layer of the skin by restoring it to its ideal natural condition. Besides being used for its anti-aging properties, the cream is also commonly prescribed by dermatologists to treat acne.
Common Side Effects
Tretinoin is applied topically and falls into a class of drugs known as retinoids. This means that the lotion affects cell growth. Generally, the drug is safe to use and has few major serious effects. A large number of patients have reported dryness of the skin when using the cream. The use of a moisturizer is highly recommended when using tretinoin cream.
Burning, itchiness, redness, and peeling are relatively common side effects. While rarely serious, if any of the above conditions are causing extreme discomfort you should discontinue use of the drug and consult your doctor or dermatologist for further advice. If any of the above conditions are minor, you can try continuing use for a few days on a small portion of your skin to see if the conditions go away. Sometimes your skin will need an “adjustment” period before adapting to the drug. Once this adjustment period is over, these irritations will disappear permanently.
While rare, some people do report serious allergic reactions to tretinoin. Should you suffer from severe rashes, swelling, blisters, or any other serious condition, stop use immediately and seek medical help. You should not apply the cream directly to open wounds. Make sure that you do not ingest the lotion and keep it away from your eyes and mouth. Also, the ointment should be kept out of reach of children as it can be harmful if swallowed. Should accidental ingestion occur, contact a medical professional immediately.
If you are pregnant, you should consult your doctor or dermatologist before use. Some laboratory studies have found that tretinoin caused birth defects in lab rat fetuses. This is because the drug interferes with the development of the embryo by disrupting retinoic acid and its processes. While the risk of any serious damage is likely low with topical applications of tretinoin, it is better to exercise caution.
Tretinoin cream can treat a wide range of conditions but you will have to consult with your doctor or dermatologist in order to obtain a prescription. While the cream is largely safe and widely used, serious side effects can occur if used inappropriately. It is always best to use it under the supervision of a doctor.