External Retinoids: Topical Retinoids
Retinoid medications are Vitamin A derivatives and are typically used to treat whiteheads and blackheads. They help to increase the skin cell turnover so that the material on the plugged follicle is expelled. Retinoids also help to stop new acne breakouts. All retinoids must be prescribed by your doctor.
This is the best known topical retinoid. It is typically found under the names Retin-A, Avita and Renova. There is also a generic form available. It can be found as a cream, gel and a liquid. The creams are less potent than the gels. However, the liquid is the best form for treating acne. It cannot be applied along with benzoyl peroxide since this will cause a breakdown of the chemicals. When starting to use tretinoin you should take precautions since there is a high incidence of skin irritation. When taking this medicine there is a high risk of sunburn. There is Retin-A Micro which releases tretinoin over a long period of time and is less irritating to skin for those who have sensitive skin.
If you see a darkening or lightening of the skin where you use tretinoin or if you experience severe burning, itching, crusting or swelling then you should contact your doctor immediately. Other side effects including an increased sensitivity to sunlight, itching, mild stinging, redness, inflammation and peeling of the skin after a few days.
This is one of the newer topical retinoid available on the market today. It is typically seen under the name Differin and can be found as a cream and gel. It’s primary benefit is that it has less skin irritation than tretinoin. It can be applied at the same time as benzoyl peroxide because it is stable.
Topical antibiotics such as clindamycin and erythromycin may interact with adapalene so you should talk to your doctor before taking adapalene with other skin creams and prescription medications. If you experience severe burning, itching, reddening, crusting, or swelling then you should contact your doctor immediately. Other side effects include an increased sensitivity to sunlight, mild burning or stinging, redness, inflammation and peeling skin.
This is another new topical retinoid that is seen as Tazorac. It is only available as a gel and has two available strengths. It is the most expensive topical retinoid and may be more irritating to the skin than other retinoid. Medicines that dry your skin such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are known to interact with tazarotene. Medicines that increase your sensitivity to the sun such as tetracycline should also not be taken with this medicine. In addition, you should consult your doctor before using it with topical antibiotics such as clindamycin and erythromycin or Vitamin A supplements.
If you find any of the following side effects you should contact your doctor immediately skin color changes, deep grooves or lines in the skin, pain or tenderness, severe burning, dryness, itching, redness, crusting and swelling. Other rare side effects include dry skin, increased sensitivity to sunlight, itching, mild burning or stinging immediately after application, redness, inflammation and skin peeling.
By talking with you doctor they can help you find the best external retinoid for your needs. Be sure to tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking whether they are prescription or not as many of these medicines have limits on what they can be used with. Always remember to notify your doctor if you see any side effects that are serious or persist for long periods of time. If the medicine creates mild side effects that affect your life then you may want to ask your doctor to try another form of retinoid or acne treatment that may better suit you and your life.