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Tretinoin Topical



Tretinoin is topically used to treat acne (pimples), rough texture of facial skin, reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles and mottled skin discoloration.

How it works

Tretinoin is a form of vitamin A and belongs to a group of medications called as retinoids. It helps the skin to renew itself (causing peeling) and prevents skin inflammation.

Common side effects

Facial swelling, Allergic reaction, Lip swelling, Application site skin tenderness, Application site reaction, Application site oozing, Application site blister, Darkening of skin, Facial redness, Flushing, Itching, Skin redness, Scaling


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Expert advice

  • Inform your doctor before using tretinoin topical if you are using cosmetics or astringents that exfoliate or dry your skin or if they contain alcohol, lime or spices.
  • Avoid direct contact of cream/gel with your eyes. In case of direct contact, wash your eyes with water immediately and seek immediate medical attention.
  • Exercise caution in children less than 12 years of age.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or breast feeding
  • It should not take if patient is allergic to tretinoin or any of its ingredients.
  • It sholud not given to patients having eczema (red, scaly, inflammed and dry skin) or if you have damaged skin or sun burns
  • It sholud not given to patients taking medicines that remove the top layers of the skin.

Frequently asked questions

Tretinoin Topical

Q. Is tretinoin topical a steroid/ retin a/ retin a/ a retinoid/retinol?
Tretinoin topical is not a steroid. It is a form of vitamin A (Retin-A) and belongs to a group of medications called as ‘retinoids’. Tretinoin and retinol are similar but tretinoin tends to be a bit more aggressive than retinol which is a bit more suitable for those with sensitive skin.
Q. Is tretinoin cream safe?
Tretinoin is safe if taken at recommended doses and duration. The gel form should be used with extreme caution in children younger than 12 years.
Q. Does tretinoin cream work/ is tretinoin cream good for acne/acne scars/lighten skin/thin the skin/work on wrinkles/fade dark spots/clog pores/cause breakouts?
Tretinoin cream works effectively in most of the patients. It is useful for treating most of the skin related issue like acne, acne scars, skin lightening, removing wrinkles, fade dark spots, clog pores, etc. It does not cause breakouts but helps the skin in healing it. 
Q. Is tretinoin available over the counter?
It is available only as per doctor’s prescription.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)