5 Things You Need to Know About Retinoids

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • The main ingredient in Retin A ( other brand names include: Avita, Renova) is tretinoin, a is a derivative of Vitamin A. They are considered retinoids. It is a treatment for acne and helps to clear whiteheads and blackheads. It is the only topical medication which has been proven to improve and prevent wrinkles. It is available only through a prescription in the United States and comes in several strengths. Your doctor will prescribe the strength he or she feels is best for your skin.


    Because retinoids have side effects, can interact with other medications and makes you more sensitive to the sun, there are some things you need to know before using it.

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    When you first start using retinoids, you might notice redness, irritation and flaking of your skin. You might want to stop because your skin looks worse than it did before. This is normal and it actually means it is working. This medication increases cell turnover, which means the flaking is dead skin cells that are being replaced by new, healthy skin cells. The initial irritation can last for a few months before you start noticing improvements.


    Start slowly. You doctor might suggest starting with a low dose (0.025%) and only using it two to three times per week. Once your skin has adjusted, you can increase how often you apply it and increase the strength if needed. This is to help reduce the irritation and side effects of using the medication.


    Retinoids make you more susceptible to damage from the sun. You should apply Retin A or other products at night and wash your face in the morning. You should wear a broad spectrum sunscreen when going in the sun. Some experts recommend sunscreens with an SPF of at least 30. You should remain in the shade as often as possible and wear a hat to shield your face.


    Your skin needs to be completely dry when applying retinoids. Wash your face and then wait for between 15 and 30 minutes before applying the cream or gel. This helps reduce the irritation from using the product. If you apply moisturizer at night, use them immediately after washing your face and wait the 15 to 30 minutes before using Retin A or wait for an additional 45 minutes before using any other product.


    There are some skin care ingredients that interfere with retinoids. Stay away from products containing vitamin C. glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. If you still want to use products with these ingredients, use them in the morning, after you have washed your face.


    More is not better. Imagine the size of a pea; the amount of retinoids you use each night should be equal to this size. Place the product on your finger so you can measure to the size of a pea, and then dab a little on your cheeks, forehead, nose and chin. Spread over your entire face without adding more.


    Retinoids have been around for several decades and are effective at treating acne and improving wrinkles. If you want to try these, talk to your dermatologist. Remember, be patient, allow your skin time to adjust and know that it takes anywhere from six to nine months, or longer, for you to see results.

Published On: February 25, 2014