Topical Retinoids


Topical retinoids are hailed by many skin specialists as one of the prominent foundation of acne treatment. They are usually the first line of defense prescribed against acne and also recommended as long-term medical care for virtually all acne sufferers.

Without a doubt, topical retinoids are preferred by people who suffer comedonal acne, which involves blackheads and whiteheads. They also show great results in eliminating inflamed lesions and are more often prescribed by dermatologists to new patients.



Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives and cause the skin to exfoliate completely so dirty pores don’t clog up and turn to blackheads and whiteheads. Besides easy skin exfoliation, topical retinoids improves your skin in other ways.

• They check the appearance of future inflamed lesions by blocking early comedone formation. No comedones, no inflamed pustules.

• They seem to deter the breeding of p. acnes, the bacteria that triggers acne.

• Retinoid hastens the peeling of old skin which gives anti-acne solutions a better chance to penetrate the skin.

• It decreases the appearance of large pores and helps get rid of blemishes.



After washing and drying the skin, apply a small amount of topical retinoid on the affected areas once daily, either in the morning or before bedtime. Retin-A, which loses its potency in sunlight, must be applied in the evening. Be sure to start your treatments using a lower strength formulation to avoid unpleasant side effects. Gradually progress to higher strength when you have built up enough tolerance for the preparation’s active ingredient.

Positive results should be noticed within a period of 6 to 8 weeks after continued use of your acne medication. The best possible result, however, can often be seen after 3 to 4 months. Consult your doctor throughout the treatment.

Contrary to what is widely believed, acne does not intensify after the first few weeks of use. The sudden outbreak is a reaction to the retinoid or a naturally occurring acne process. You must weather it out unless the reaction gets worse. Put the treatment on hold and see your doctor. Most treatments fail to reach the point of success due to improper retinoid application and eventual halt in treatment before any positive result can be seen. Coordinate closely with your dermatologist and follow the product’s directions correctly.



Expect to encounter some side effects after a few weeks of topical retinoid use. These may come in the form of stinging or burning sensation on the skin, some redness or swelling, and scaling, which are signs that your treatment is working. As your skin begins to develop tolerance to the medication, the side effects ease up.

Topical Retinoids don’t actually dry the skin; it’s really the dead skin that is beginning to shed off. If your skin is sensitive to retinoid, you can minimize the irritation by following a few steps.

• Use the retinoid every other day, or less often, until you develop a tolerance for it.

• Apply the retinoid for as little as a few minutes before washing it off. This helps you build up tolerance and gives the medication a chance to work.

• Apply an ample amount of moisturizer on dry and scaly skin, mornings and evenings after every application.

Topical retinoids can make you sensitive to the sun’s rays. If you must go out during the day, be sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat, apply some sunscreen and stay out of the midday sun.