ZocdocAnswersHow does Retin-A work?

Question

How does Retin-A work?

How does the medicine Retin-A work? I'm a woman who just turned 30 and my doctor said due to my history of severe acne (since age 15) I was a good candidate for Retin-A. But if this is just a treatment to dry out my skin even more brutally than the over - the - counter stuff, I'm not sure I want it.

Answer

Acne can be a very distressing and difficult skin condition to contend with. We have excellent treatments for it but they are not all for everyone. Retin A (also known as Tretinoin) is one of the most commonly prescribed form of topical acne treatment. It works by causing the cells that block your pores to fall off preventing pimples such as black heads and white heads from forming. Most patients have good response to topical Retin-A. The side effects which are common include photosensitivity (must use sun screen), and skin irritation. Dry skin is a common complaint of people that use Retin-A, but drying out the skin is not how it reduces acne. Of note, cystic or inflammatory acne will not respond as well to Retin-A I suggest you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or dermatologist, whomever you go to for your acne care. Discuss this issue with him or her. Ultimately it will be your decision as to whether you would like to trade the benefits of the medication for the potential side effects. Keep in mind that if you do decide to try it, you can always stop if you decide that the side effects are not acceptable. Good luck.

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