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WHAT IS RETIN A?
What does Retin A do?
Retin A cream helps fight acne by removing the dead skin cells and oil from your face that can cause spots, and it can also reduce the inflammation that accompanies more severe acne outbreaks. Retin A can even limit the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scars and dark spots on your skin, as well as healing sun damage and improving the texture and tone of your skin.
How does Retin A work?
Tretinoin, the active ingredient in Retin A, is proven to be an effective treatment for acne. It increases the growth and turnover of skin cells where the cream is applied; old cells are shed faster and new cells emerge quicker which improves the quality of your skin. It works for acne, because the removal of old skin cells and sebum oil from your face lowers your chances of getting spots. It can reduce the inflammation caused by more serious forms of acne and it can even help with acne scaring.
You should always use Retin A as prescribed, but the following are general guidelines. Apply Retin A cream directly to your face, usually once a day, and usually at night before you go to bed. You should wash and dry your face beforehand, then apply the cream to the areas where you have acne, dabbing it onto your skin, then smoothing it in gently. It should be absorbed by your skin and become invisible after a few seconds, if not, you’ve likely used too much. Retin A should only be used on your skin, so keep it away from your eyes, mouth, and nostrils.
This will vary by person, as it depends on how well someone reacts to Retin A and how severe their acne is, but you may see an improvement within two to three weeks of daily use, although between six to eight weeks is more common. If you’re not seeing any benefits by 12 weeks, speak to our doctors who will be able to advise further.
You may also find that you experience more breakouts of acne when you first start using Retin A. This is common and should pass as your skin gets used to the treatment.
Retin A cream can dry your skin, and even irritate it, so you should use a daily moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated and fresh. Don’t use the Retin A cream and your moisturizer at the same time though, in case the moisturizer stops the Retin A from working properly. If you use Retin A cream at night, moisturize in the morning, and again in the afternoon if necessary. Retin A can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so a moisturizer which contains SPF will help with this too.
You should use your Retin A cream as prescribed, but usually Retin A cream is applied once a day, often at night before you go to bed. It can take a little time for your skin to adjust to Retin A, so you might have to start off by using it once every three nights, then once every two nights, then every night when you think you’re ready.
Studies have shown that tretinoin (the active ingredient in Retin A) is safe for long term use. For most people, the medication is prescribed as a long term treatment for acne.
Most people will see a noticeable improvement in around 6 weeks, however, this depends on how well someone reacts to the treatment and how severe their acne is. For some people, they may see results in less time and in some cases, it may take longer. If you do not see any benefits in 3 months, please speak to our doctors who will be able to advise further.
Yes you can use Retin A for acne scars. Not only does Retin A help with acne breakouts, research has shown it can improve the appearance of acne scars too. Tretinoin, the active ingredient in Retin A, speeds up the turnover of skin cells, promoting the shedding of dead cells and their replacement with new ones, including the growth of new skin cells at the site of scaring. Retin A may not heal your acne scars entirely, but used daily, over time it should improve their appearance.
Although Retin A is an acne medication, the active ingredient tretinoin is also a popular anti-aging treatment. When used consistently, topical tretinoin has been proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, both over the short and the long term.
Yes, this is another in the list of Retin A benefits. As well as fighting acne and reducing some of the signs of ageing, the increased rate of skin cell turnover promoted by tretinoin (the active ingredient in Retin A) has also been shown to reduce the appearance of dark spots or dark areas on the skin (pigmentation).
There are many acne and skin products with similar sounding names, so to deal with any confusion, we’ll explain the difference simply here. The active ingredient in Retin A, called tretinoin, is a type of synthetic vitamin A (synthetic means it’s a form of vitamin A that doesn’t occur naturally). Retinols are another type of skin product used to treat acne, but Retinols are based on natural forms of vitamin A (basically types of vitamin A you can find in food). So Retin A is a synthetic vitamin A, and Retinols are natural vitamin A. Retinols are available without prescription, but are usually less effective than Retin A.
Retin A is regarded as one of the most effective treatments for acne. Studies have repeatedly shown the active ingredient in Retin A, called tretinoin, can reduce the severity of acne outbreaks, limiting the number of spots and the inflammation that can accompany acne.
Retin A is a safe and effective acne treatment for most people, but like all meds, it can have side effects. These tend to be mild in nature, and include dryness, redness, peeling, itching, and burning of the skin where the cream is applied. Any side effects should reduce over the first few weeks of use as your skin gets used to the Retin A. If they don’t go away, and if you experience more serious side effects, like swelling and blistering, discontinue use and speak to our doctors.
Yes, Retin A can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. You should wear protective clothing when going outside and use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
When using Retin A, it is important that you do not use other topical acne products that contain a peeling agent, for example, benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, or sulfur.
When you first start using Retin A, you may find you get more breakouts of acne. This isn’t something to worry about; it’s common and it should pass as your skin gets used to Retin A, usually within two to six weeks.
Retin A can also cause your skin to peel at first. The active ingredient in Retin A, tretinoin, increases the rate at which your body replaces skin cells. As old skin is shed, especially in the first few weeks of using Retin A, it can give your skin a flaky, or even crusty appearance. This peeling should reduce and even disappear over time, usually between two to six weeks, but if not, speak to our doctors.
Yes, Retin A is a stronger, synthetic version of vitamin A and it requires a prescription from a doctor. You can get a prescription from our doctors at FROM MARS, start an online consultation and our doctors will determine if Retin A is suitable for you.
Retin A cream is a prescription medication which you can buy from us here at FROM MARS. Simply start an online consultation with us and a licensed Canadian doctor will review your details and, if medically approved, prescribe Retin A cream. Your medication will be shipped for free to your door.
To find out more about acne, please visit our acne page.
Retin A dosage
Retin A cream is usually applied once a day, with a thin layer spread over the affected skin. The cream should be fully absorbed after a few seconds, if not, you’re likely using too much.
Retin A cream comes in a range of strengths, like Retin A 0.05 and Retin A 0.1. The number tells you how much of the active ingredient tretinoin is in the product, i.e. Retin A cream 0.05 means tretinoin is 0.05% of the product. Which strength is right for you should be decided upon by the healthcare professional who prescribes the Retin A cream to you, based on the severity of your acne and your medical history.
Retin A indications
Retin A cream is indicated for the treatment of acne (acne vulgaris).
Retin A contraindications
Retin A cream should not be used by anyone who’s had a hypersensitivity reaction to retinoids or other forms of vitamin A, who has sun burn or a condition which makes them sensitive to sunlight, or by anyone who has the skin condition eczema.
Retin A precautions
Retin A can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so you should limit your time in the sun, particularly strong sun, and avoid sun lamps and tanning booths. Retin A may also make your skin sensitive to weather extremes, like cold wind, so you may have to protect your face and wear sunscreen when you go outdoors. Retin A can dry your skin out and irritate it, so you should avoid skin treatments like waxing, electrolysis, chemical depilatories, or anything else that can irritate your skin.
Retin A interactions
Retin A can interact with other drugs and products, and may change how they work, or increase or decrease their effectiveness. For a full list of Retin A interactions see the leaflet that comes with your product, or speak to our doctors.
Some interactions include various drugs that can increase your sensitivity to sunlight, like fluoroquinolones and tetracyclines; skincare products that contain alcohol, lime, and menthol; harsh soaps and cleansers; and products that contain alpha hydroxy acid or salicylic acid; although this is not a full list.
What should I avoid while using Retin A cream?
Retin A cream can dry and irritate your skin, making it more sensitive to other products, and to sunlight and strong weather. You should avoid using harsh and drying skin products, and you should try and stay out of strong sun and protect your face from bad weather.
Retin A side effects
Retin A cream is a safe product for most people to use, but like all meds, it can have side effects, but most of these are limited to the skin where the Retin A is applied. In clinical trials, the most common side effects were:
- Dry skin
- Irritated skin
- Skin peeling
- Hot, burning and stinging sensations
- Erythema (redness of the skin)
- Pruritus (an urge to scratch)
In most users, these side effects lessen over time as the skin gets used to the tretinoin, but speak to our doctors if these side effects persist, or if you’re concerned about them.
Retin A storage
Store your Retin A cream in a cool and dry location. Make sure you keep it out of sight and reach of children. Don’t use the cream after the expiry date on the box (the expiry date refers to the last day of the month).
Is Retin A safe?
Retin A cream can have some mild side-effects. But don’t panic. They are usually temporary and disappear with continued treatment. If you experience sudden breathing difficulties, hives, swollen lips, throat or tongue stop taking the product immediately and seek medical advice by contacting us or your doctor. We recommend reading the link below to understand all of the potential benefits and risks of the medication.
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