Retin A, along with its relatives (Differin, Tazorac, tretinoin, Atralin, and Ziana), is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for the treatment of acne. Not only does it treat acne, but it improves the appearance of acne scars. Dr. Schweiger explains that, “Retin-A treats acne and improves acne scars by similar mechanisms; basically, Retin A regulates and speeds up skin cell turnover. For acne, this means that the debris in the pores that attracts acne bacteria is sloughed off in order to prevent the formation of acne. This also prevents and treats the formation of non-inflammatory acne, or blackheads and whiteheads, on the skin. For acne scarring, the collagen in the skin is produced more rapidly, which can improve the texture of acne scars.”
Retin A should be used in the evening, as some formulations are inactivated by the sun. Because the medications can be drying, a pea size amount is sufficient to cover the entire face. We recommend starting with use only three nights each week, and increasing to nightly application as tolerated. Moisturizer can be applied before and after Retin-A and other retinoids, in order to provide moisture to the skin and prevent the drying effect.
Retin A is often used in combination with other acne medications, such as antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide, in order to treat and prevent acne in the most effective way. In-office laser and light-based acne treatments are also useful to improving acne, and they can yield results more quickly than prescription medications.