Acne treatment Acne treatment

Topical Retinoids for Acne

Topical Retinoids for Acne

Acne is one of the most common skin diseases in the United States and many other parts of the world. This is partially due to the fact that acne affects all ages, races and genders, with teenagers and young adults being most prone to outbreaks. There are multiple over-the-counter (OTC) and treatment methods available for acne. Topical retinoids are one popular option for treatment and come in gels, creams and lotions. Topical retinoids come in three main types and are used to treat mild to medium cases of acne.


Topical adapalene is one retinoid option for acne treatment. Adapalene is a synthetic retinoid used to unclog acne affected pores and may also be beneficial for reducing acne inflammation, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Adapalene works by increasing the rate in which new skin cells grow and reducing skin cell keratinization. Common side effects of adapalene include skin dryness, redness, itching and other minor skin irritations. Adapalene, along with all other retinoids, is not recommended for those who are pregnant, as there may be some risk for birth defects.


Tazarotene is another common retinoid used to treat acne. Like adapalene, tazarotene is also a a synthetic retinoid. Like other retinoids, tazarotene works to unclog pores and reduce acne inflammation through increasing the turnover rate of skin cells on the acne affected areas of skin. Tazorotene has caused some birth defects in lab animals. Because of this, birth control is necessary at all times while you are using the topical medication.


Tretinoin is the only natural topical retinoid on the market and was also the first retinoid available for the treatment of acne. Like other retinoids, tretinoin works by promoting skin peeling and unclogging pores. Because tretinoin causes the skin to peel, the skin may become more sensitive to the sun. Wearing sunblock and staying out of the sun whenever possible are both ways to avoid unnecessary irritation. Skin irritation and other side effects may vary, depending on how strong the prescription is.

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