Retin A is the generic form of tretinoin, which is available as a cream. The medicated cream is one form of vitamin A, and is used in the treatment of acne. The cream helps renew skin cells and fight acne. It also comes in a micro gel form, which is used to treat rough, uneven skin texture, tone and pigmentation, and helps smoothen acne affected patchy skin.
The cream also helps tighten skin and face off fine lines and wrinkles which are marks of skin ageing. However there are some precautions to be taken while using the cream. And you must know about the side effects too.
We have made great headway when it comes to treating acne. Our understanding of the role played by the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) has grown, and we know more about how certain vitamin deficiencies can contribute to acne vulgaris. We know that prevention is the key to fighting acne of all types—that means going below the surface to where acne starts.
We’ll talk about all these advances and what they mean in later posts, but first I’d like to discuss the most effective weapon in the acne battle—vitamin A derivatives. Since vitamin A derivatives (retinoids) have also proved to repair photodamage, they’re the go-to ingredients if you have aging issues. Clearly, their multiple benefits make them the ideal choice for adults with acne.
While almost everyone can benefit from topical vitamin A, confusion reigns over what works best over what doesn’t work at all. Unfortunately the facts tend to get drowned out in resounding marketing clamor, and some people may even get scared off from using them at all. Here’s the straight scoop, starting with retinoids.
Retinoids is the term used for the group of vitamin A derivatives that study after study have proven to unclog pores, stimulate collagen production and improve collagen density. Your skin can only use retinoids that are retinoic acid (or like retinol, can be converted to it), because retinoic acid works by binding to retinoic acid receptors found on the outer membrane of cells.
On the acne-fighting front it penetrates to sebaceous glands and reduces sebum production by binding to sebocyte receptors. Its anti-inflammatory effects keep P. acnes in check. Currently three prescription-strength retinoids are available: Tretinoin (includes Retin-A, Retin-A micro and Renova), Tazarotene and Adapalene. Tazarotene is regarded as the strongest and Adapalene the gentlest to the skin. There is no argument that prescription formulas deliver the best results, but there are drawbacks.
Dosage of the cream
One must take the medicine exactly as prescribed by the doctor. The medicine is not over active when taken more, that means, when you apply more cream, do not expect faster action. It will act and affect as the skin absorbs and adjusts to it. It may take sooner or longer depending on the person and skin type.
It’s important that you wash your hands before and after using the gel. The skin must also be washed with safe and mild face wash, and patted completely dry. Then you should wait for some more time to get it fully air dried and then apply the Retin A skin cream.
While applying the cream you must be sure not to apply it on any open would. It is a topical formation, and should only be applied on external skin. Exposure to nostrils, lips, eyes, cracks of the nose can be dangerous. Also this should not be applied when the skin is chapped, broken, sun burnt etc.
Precautions to be taken while applying the cream
While using Retin A cream for acne one has to be sure exposure to sun is made only after wearing a sunscreen lotion. That’s because the treatment makes the skin very sensitive to sunburns. You should not get into tanning beds under this treatment.
Due to the side effects of the Retin A crème, the skin may feel dry, may peel off, redness and irritation may occur, and exposure to sun may bring on a temporary irritation and burning sensation.
You should not suddenly stop taking the medicine. Applying the cream everyday as directed is necessary even if immediate positive effects may not be visible. Sometimes it takes more time to start working, and you should wait and continue, and consult your doctor in the meantime without stopping application. However is you get severe skin irritation or no results after applying more the 8 weeks, then you should talk to the doctor.
Where to get the cream
You would get the cream with prescription from any store. And if you want Retin A generic, then you can always buy it online. The online pharmacies give the best discount on generic medicine, and you would get the best price for Retin A micro. The best part is that you buy it without a prescription from any part of the world whether local supplies are there or not in your area.
They can be irritating, and some people experience peeling and redness.
Most, if not all, prescription products contain ingredients like propylene glycol and parabens that the natural community has long ago rejected. My suspicion is that some of the irritation might be a result of the non-active ingredients in the formulation rather than the retinoic acid. The irritation problem could possibly be mediated by using formulations that do not contain other known irritants.
They require a prescription, which may be inconvenient.
Retinol (vitamin A)
Here the confusion begins. The most popular version of vitamin A found in over-the-counter products is called retinol, but besides retinol there are the various types of esters, also derivatives of vitamin A, that are often described as retinol: Retinyl Acetate, Retinyl Linoleate, Retinyl Palmitate and Retinyl Proprionate. It’s important to remember that all vitamin A derivatives must convert to retinoic acid.
Their effectiveness depends on several factors:
- Number of conversion steps
Vitamin A esters like retinyl palmitate have a three–step process retinol), while retinol takes two steps to convert to (Retinyl palmitate retinoic acid).retinaldehyde retinoic acid (retinol
The drawn-out conversion process of retinyl palmitate militates against its efficacy.
All vitamin A derivatives degrade very quickly when exposed to air and sunlight. In fact, dermatologists favored prescription retinoic acid over retinol for decades because the latter was simply too unstable in solution to be effective. Fortunately advances in nanotechnology have given us encapsulated versions of retinol that do not degrade as quickly. It’s still important to keep your retinol product away from light and use the product at night only.
The efficacy of retinol depends on concentration—higher concentrations result in higher conversion rates to retinoic acid. However, higher concentrations of retinol can sometimes lead to increased irritation, the same problem encountered with, for example, prescription-strength Retin-A.
The upside here is that if you experience irritation when using a high-concentration retinol product without known irritating preservatives (parabens or sodium benzoate), you are very likely reaping the benefits of retinoic acid being absorbed into the skin’s cell receptors.
Choosing the right retinoid
Retinoic acid: The key to success is choosing your retinoid carefully. Always bear in mind that the active ingredient that repairs photoaging and alleviates acne is retinoic acid. Your skin can only use retinoids that are retinoic acid or, like retinol, can be converted to it.
Adults with both acne and aging issues will want to get the full benefit of retinoic acid if they can tolerate it. Some people experience irritation at first, which generally improves over time. If not, your dermatologist may decide to try a different prescription. If irritation persists it may be other ingredients like preservatives and so on in the cream that are causing problems.
Retinol: Remember the mantra—retinol is not retinoic acid. Many people, however, prefer using over-the-counter retinol products for a variety of reasons, including uncomfortable skin reactivity. But watch out—retinol products can be less irritating because the retinol concentration is so low nothing is happening. Effective products do exist, and if you prefer retinol look for a product with the following profile:
- Contains an encapsulated version of retinol (protects against degradation)
- Contains an effective concentration of retinol
- Does not contain retinyl palmitate or other vitamin A ester (too far removed in the conversion chain)
- Does not contain preservatives like parabens, phenoxyethanol or sodium benzoate that may irritate skin
Prescription retinoids are regulated because they are teratogenic. Pregnant and nursing women should also avoid retinol products.
Use at night only, and always wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen during the day.
Keep all retinoid products away from light.
Never use benzoyl peroxide products, especially if you are an adult with acne. Prolonged use of BP can make skin photosensitive, and it impedes new skin cell formation, both of which accelerate skin aging.
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