Tretinoin

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Generic Name: Tretinoin Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available. Avability: Rx Pregnancy Category: C

Uses

What is Tretinoin used for?

Tretinoin is used to treat acne. It may decrease the number and severity of acne pimples and promote quick healing of pimples that do develop. Tretinoin belongs to a class of medications called retinoids. It works by affecting the growth of skin cells.

How should I take Tretinoin?

Wash your hands before applying this medication. Gently clean the affected skin with a mild or soapless cleanser and pat dry. Use your fingertips to apply a small amount of medication (about the size of a pea) in a thin layer, usually once daily at bedtime or as directed by your doctor. A gauze pad or cotton swab can be used to apply the liquid. For some preparations, you should wait 20-30 minutes after cleaning your face before applying this medication.

Use this medication on the skin only. Do not apply to the inner lip area or inside the nose/mouth. Do not apply to cut, scraped, sunburned, or eczema-affected skin.

Avoid getting this medication in your eyes. If this medication gets into your eyes, flush with large amounts of water. Call your doctor if eye irritation develops. Wash your hands after using the medication to avoid accidentally getting it in your eyes.

During the first few weeks of using tretinoin, your acne might appear worse because the medication is working on pimples forming inside the skin. It may take up to 8-12 weeks to notice results from this medication.

Use it regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same time each day. Do not use a larger amount or use it more frequently than recommended. Your skin will not improve any faster, and it will increase the risk of developing redness, peeling and pain.

Since this drug is absorbed through the skin and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication.

This medication is available in different strengths and forms (e.g., gel, cream, solution). The best type of medication for you to use will depend on the condition of your skin and your response to therapy. Inform your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.

How do I store Tretinoin?

Tretinoin is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store Tretinoin in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of Tretinoin that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush Tretinoin down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using Tretinoin?

Before using tretinoin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to vitamin A-related drugs (other retinoids such as isotretinoin); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: eczema.

This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Limit your time in the sun. Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps. Weather extremes such as wind or cold may also be irritating to the skin. Use sunscreen daily and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Tell your doctor right away if you get sunburned or have skin blisters/redness. Wait until your skin has completely recovered from a sunburn before using tretinoin.

Avoid electrolysis, waxing and chemical depilatories for hair removal on the treated areas while using this product.

If you have recently used products containing sulfur, resorcinol or salicylic acid, use tretinoin with caution. Wait until the effects of such products on the skin have decreased before using tretinoin.

This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

Since this drug is absorbed through the skin and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication.

It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this Tretinoin during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking Tretinoin. Tretinoin is pregnancy risk category C according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Side effects

What side effects can occur from Tretinoin?

A brief sensation of warmth or stinging may occur immediately after applying the medication. Skin redness, dryness, itching, scaling, mild burning, or worsening of acne may occur during the first 2-4 weeks of using the medication. These effects usually decrease with continued use. A daytime moisturizer may be helpful for excessive dry skin.

If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Your doctor may want you to decrease how often you use tretinoin, change the strength or type, or have you stop using it.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor immediately if you experience: blistering, crusting, severe burning/swelling of the skin, eye redness and watering (conjunctivitis), eyelid swelling, skin discoloration.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with Tretinoin?

Some products that may interact with this drug include: hair perming solutions, alcohol/lime/menthol-containing products (such as astringents, toners, shaving lotions), medicated or abrasive soaps and cleansers, products containing sulfur, resorcinol or salicylic acid, products containing alpha hydroxy acid, products containing glycolic acid, soaps and cosmetics with a strong drying effect, other drugs that may increase your sensitivity to sunlight (e.g., fluoroquinolones such as ciprofloxacin, tetracyclines, thiazide water pills such as hydrochlorothiazide, sulfa drugs such as sulfamethoxazole, phenothiazines such as chlorpromazine).

Benzoyl peroxide can be very irritating and may decrease the effectiveness of tretinoin if the two products are applied at the same time. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the safe use of prescription and non-prescription benzoyl peroxide products (e.g., Pro-Activ, Clearasil).

Tretinoin may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with Tretinoin?

Tretinoin may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with Tretinoin?

Tretinoin may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this Tretinoin.

What is the dose of Tretinoin for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Acne

Recommended dose: Apply a thin layer to the entire affected area once a day at bedtime

Comments:

-Excessive amounts of the gel formulation will result in “pilling” or “caking,” which prevents over-application.

-Warmth and/or stinging may occur after application.

-An apparent exacerbation of acne may occur during the first weeks of treatment, and should not be a reason to discontinue treatment.

-Patients with and without acne reported that the gel formulation was less irritating than the cream formulation.

Use: Treatment of acne vulgaris

Usual Adult Dose for Dermatoheliosis

Recommended dose: Apply a pea-sized amount to the entire affected area once a day at bedtime

Duration of therapy: 48 weeks (0.05% cream/emollient cream) and 52 weeks (0.02% cream)

Comments:

-Approximately 20 to 30 minutes prior to application, patients should wash their faces with a mild soap and pat the skin dry.

-Warmth and/or stinging may occur after application.

-Improvement in fine wrinkling may not be observed for up to 6 months.

Use: Adjunctive agent for the mitigation of fine facial wrinkles in patients with comprehensive skin care and sunlight avoidance programs

Dose Adjustments

Severe warmth or stinging on application: Use may be temporarily stopped or the frequency of application decreased until the patient is able to tolerate treatment.

Other Comments

Administration advice:

-This drug is for topical use only, and should be used with caution around mucous membranes.

-The gel formulation should be kept tightly closed when not in use.

-Cosmetics may be used during treatment, but the area should be thoroughly washed and dried before this drug is applied. The application of topical products should be separated by approximately 1 hour.

Storage requirements:

-The manufacturer product information should be consulted.

General:

-Excessive application may increase the risk of skin irritation without improving efficacy. The gel formulation “pills” or “cakes” when excessive amounts are added to the skin, which may help patients to determine an appropriate amount to use.

-The 0.02% cream and 0.05% emollient cream formulations are not indicated to eliminate wrinkles, repair sun-damaged skin, reverse photoaging, and/or restore youthful/younger-looking skin.

-Safety and efficacy with the 0.05% emollient cream formulation have not been established in patients over 50 years of age and/or with moderate to heavy skin pigmentation; efficacy and safety of the 0.02% cream formulation have not been established in patients over 71 years of age.

Monitoring:

-Excessive skin irritation

-Sunburns/increased photosensitivity

Patient advice:

-Patients should be counseled on using appropriate sun protection while on therapy.

-Patients should be instructed to wash the affected area with a mild, non-medicated soap and pat the area dry before application. Patients should be told to avoid washing the area too frequently or scrubbing the skin too hard.

-Patients should be warned that benefits may not be seen for up to 8 weeks; initially, acne may look worse, but patients should not discontinue use during this time.

-Patients should be told to avoid contact with extremes in weather, other topical drugs, agents with strong drying effects, preparations with high alcohol concentrations, abrasive soaps, astringents, spices, and/or lime or lime peels to decrease the risk of skin irritation.

-Patients should be advised to speak to healthcare provider if they are pregnant, intend to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

What is the dose of Tretinoin for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Acne

12 years and older:

-Recommended dose: Apply a thin layer to the affected area once a day at bedtime

Comments:

-Excessive amounts of the gel formulation will result in “pilling” or “caking,” which prevents over-application.

-Warmth and/or stinging may occur after application.

-An apparent exacerbation of acne may occur during the first weeks of treatment, and should not be a reason to discontinue treatment.

-Patients with and without acne reported that the gel formulation was less irritating than the cream formulation.

Use: Treatment of acne vulgaris

Precautions

Safety and efficacy for most formulations in the treatment of acne have not been established in patients younger than 12 years. Consult with the manufacturer product information for more information.

Safety and efficacy for the palliation of fine lines and wrinkles have not been established in patients younger than 18 years.

How is Tretinoin available?

Tretinoin is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Topical liquid,
  • Topical cream,
  • Topical gel,
  • Topical kit.

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Tretinoin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: November 8, 2018 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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