Tazorac Cream & What it Does for Acne

Tazorac is a brand name for the topical medication tazarotene, which is useful for treating acne and psoriasis. Although it is effective against acne, you may not see improvement for at least four weeks, according to the Tazorac official website. Manufactured by Allergan, this prescription-only medicine is available in gel and cream forms.


Tazorac cream comes in 0.05 percent and 0.1 percent strength for treating plaque psoriasis, and the 0.1 percent strength cream also is used for treating acne. This is a retinoid medication, derived from vitamin A. Topical retinoids help keep pores clear and prevent the formation of comedones, known as whiteheads and blackheads, explains the American Academy of Dermatology.


During a study published in the May 2010 issue of the "Journal of Drugs in Dermatology," tazarotene cream had better results against acne than adapalene gel, another prescription-only topical retinoid. Participants with moderate to severe acne used either tazarotene 0.1 percent cream or 0.3 percent adapalene gel once daily. Tazarotene cream was more effective at reducing acne lesions and in decreasing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Both medications were well-tolerated except for infrequent skin irritation.


Apply Tazorac once each evening, advises the official website. First gently cleanse your face and allow your skin to dry, then apply a thin layer of Tazorac cream to acne-affected areas and to areas prone to acne. To avoid excess absorption, wash it off any areas that do not need to be treated, including your hands. Do not get any medicine on your eyelids or in your eyes or mouth. Drugs.com notes that you can apply a moisturizing cream or lotion if you want to, either before or after applying tazarotene cream, but allow the first product to absorb and dry completely before applying the second product.

Side Effects

The most common side effects associated with Tazorac cream are dryness, redness, peeling, itching, stinging and burning sensations, according to the official website. It can cause severe irritation if applied to eczema. Tazarotene makes skin more sensitive to weather extremes such as cold and wind, and to ultraviolet light, which can increase the risk of severe sunburn. An allergic reaction to tazarotene is possible, with signs of hives, shortness of breath, throat closing and facial or mouth swelling. Drugs.com cautions patients not to apply tazarotene topical more often than directed, because using too much can cause significant redness, peeling and discomfort and will not result in faster or better results.


Pregnant women or women who are likely to become pregnant should not use Tazorac, cream because retinoids can cause birth defects, warns the official website. Because it causes extra sensitivity to sunlight, do not use Tazorac cream if you are taking any drugs that have a similar effect, such as tetracycline or fluoroquinolone antibiotics.