Tretinoin is a prescription cream that is used to lessen wrinkles, decrease acne and reduce acne scarring. A study conducted by the Department of Dermatovenerology at the Sarajevo University Hospital Center showed that tretinoin successfully treated acne scars in 79 percent of patients. [Acta Dermatovenerol Croat. 2004;12(2):84-91] Tretinoin is a derivative of vitamin A. It works by increasing the rate the skin sheds the top layers of dead skin cells. The increased shedding encourages the growth of new skin. Faster rates of new skin growth means faster scar reduction.
Tretinoin is used in different brands of creams and is available in different strengths. A dermatologist will assist you in choosing the right tretinoin cream for your skin. A small amount of tretinoin is applied topically to the skin, generally once a day, before bed. Results can be seen in as early as two weeks after treatment begins, with full results generally seen six months after treatment. A dermatologist may combine tretinoin treatments with other treatments for the removal of acne scars.
Common Side Effects
Tretinoin causes sun sensitivity. You should always use a full-spectrum sunscreen when undergoing tretinoin treatment. The most common side effects associated with tretinoin cream is dry skin, skin peeling and skin redness. The side effects are usually tolerable and decrease over time. In cases of severe skin sensitivity, a dermalogist may decrease the dose of tretinoin, decrease application to once every other day, or change to a different treatment.
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Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.