Retinol & Skin
Retinol is basically another name for vitamin A. When ingested within your diet, it helps to encourage cellular growth, maintain proper vision and even improve the immune system. But it's also used topically in both over-the-counter and prescription creams to promote healthy skin.
Retinol is characterized as a vitamin A compound by both the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Dermatology. It's considered a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant on the skin. This means that retinol neutralizes the free radicals that damage the epidermis, which eventually leads to aging.
The most common use of retinol is in over-the-counter wrinkle creams. When applied directly to the skin, it's said to promote what's known as cellular turnover. The American Academy of Dermatology describes this as an increase in the death and growth of skin cells. The growth of new epithelial cells can modestly decrease the depth of fine lines and wrinkles, and thereby provide a more youthful appearance to the skin.
Another form of retinol is retinoid, which is a topical prescription commonly used in the treatment of acne. Retinoids have the ability to break down obstructions within your pores that are directly causing the acne lesions, which can reduce inflammation and improve your complexion. They're also effective in sloughing off dead skin. Retinoids are often combined with an antibiotic to improve their efficacy.
Both prescription and nonprescription derivatives of vitamin A can cause skin irritation, warns the American Academy of Dermatology. Prolonged daily use may lead to dryness and peeling of the skin along application sites. The Mayo Clinic also cautions against the use of vitamin A derivatives by women who are pregnant, as the compound may produce birth defects. Consider switching to a different topical cream if you're currently trying to get pregnant or are breastfeeding.
The National Institutes of Health recommends avoiding vitamin A supplements when using a topical application of vitamin A. Simultaneous use of both products could lead to toxicity, which can produce headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and blurred vision in adults.
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