The growing popularity of minimally invasive treatments has led patients to use prescription treatments. Topical skincare products like tretinoin cream have rapidly grown among all prescription-based treatments. The global demand for retinoids is expected to grow at a 5.4% CAGR per year to US$1.5 billion in 2022. Tretinoin is amongst the highest used retinoids to treat wounds, repair skin damage, lighten skin pigmentation, cure acne and treat wrinkles.
Tretinoin is a topical retinoid and is considered more potent and is available only through prescription. It is a derivate of Vitamin A and is a common ingredient in most prescription-strength acne treatments. Besides treating stubborn acne, it is used to improve fine lines and dark spots caused by prolonged exposure to the sun. Tretinoin is the generic name of a synthetic form of Vitamin A and is available in the brand name as Atralin, Avita, Refissa, Renova, Retin-A, and more.
Tretinoin is not a magical potion that repairs your skin within a day. It is a long-term treatment process.
How to safely include Tretinoin cream in your skincare regime
Tretinoin is a highly powerful treatment so you have to be extra careful and follow your doctor’s instruction religious to avoid any side effects.
At the initial stage, you should always try to use it every third night. This is because Tretinoin works aggressively on your skin, so using it regularly may not be a good idea. If you apply it on Monday, then use it next Thursday. Your skin will start to adjust itself to the medication. As you see it, you can gradually increase it to a nightly basis.
Before you apply, wash your face and let it dry completely. Apply the Tretinoin and gently massage it on the skin until it dissolves completely. Apply a good moisturizer soon after you apply Tretinoin. Ask your doctor to prescribe a good moisture that pairs well with Tretinoin.
In the first week, you will feel some temporary irritation on your face. You may also notice an eruption of acne, but don’t be alarmed as this is completely ok. Don’t expect any results so soon. You need to use it for at least six weeks to see any consistent results.
As your skin adjusts to Tretinoin, you will notice some slight irritation including peeling, dryness, and heightened sensitivity. If you have acne-prone skin, you may experience something called “purging”. It is a phase, where existing and underlying acne surface faster on your skin due to faster cell turnover. These side effects are temporary and can be minimized with the right care.
First, you need to check on the quantity of tretinoin and moisturizer you use to minimize skin irritation. Use only the recommended amount of tretinoin your doctor has prescribed. Using more than recommended is a bad idea and can result in side effects and skin damage. Don’t lather your face with the cream. Don’t use more than a pea-sized amount for your whole face, unless recommended otherwise by your doctor.
Tretinoin can also make your skin sensitive to the sun, which will normalize within a couple of months provided you use sunscreen and wear shades whenever you are outside.
At this point, your skin will be adapted to the new routine. Your doctor will ask you to increase the frequency of application. Your skin will look clearer and feel smoother to the touch within 4-6 weeks. Your skin discoloration will start to decrease and you will see some decent changes in your skin texture.
Within three months of usage, you will some phenomenal changes in your skin texture and appearance. The deep layer of skin will starts to thicken, resulting in a clearer, brighter and healthy complexion. All the photodamage is likely to lighten up and big pores will be closed by now. If you had wrinkles and fine lines, consider them gone by now. The key is to continue and stay consistent in the treatment. Tretinoin treatment is a long-term process, so don’t stop abruptly the minute you change.
Once you reach the six-month mark, you will notice the tightening and thickening of loose and wrinkly skin. Fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation would be gone by now and so is the side effects you experienced initially. Tretinoin keeps working on your skin as long you use them. Aside from repairing your skin, it also protects it from photoaging. It continues to boost collagen production in your skin, making them look bright and healthy.
Tretinoin topical cream comes with a range of concentrations ranging from 0.01% to 0.1% that should be determined by your doctor considering the severity of your skin. The success to a healthy result is having patience and using them as directed.
Some doctor-recommended tips to use Tretinoin in a rewarding way
Don’t use more than a pea-sized amount (More is never better when it comes to Tretinoin or any other forms of retinoid or steroids).
Using it before going to bed works much better (Clean your face before using the cream with a fragrance-free soap or non-soap cleanser such as Cetaphil or Cerave).
Use it only after completely drying your skin (use a blow dryer on cool setting or wait until your face dry out completely after the facewash).
Use a good moisturizing cream after applying tretinoin (avoid moisturizer and any other products containing retinol or alpha-hydroxy acid as it can intensify the skin irritation).
Don’t use more than 2-3 days on the first week (as you feel your skin is easily tolerating the medicines, you can gradually move to using it every night).
You may get a mild case of dryness or skin peeling, which is completely normal during the initial days (discontinue using if you experience any facial itching or swelling).
Clean your face gently while you are on Tretinoin (Say no to scrubs or loofas).
Use a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen and moisturizer everything your step out (use sunscreen and moisturizer if your room get too much sunlight).
Minimizing Tretinoin Irritation
The results you see in the first few weeks does not accurately reflect the results you will see within the next six months or a year. The first week of tretinoin is not exactly rewarding as most people expect. The skin irritation for the first two weeks can be a nightmare. Your skin will get a bit irritated, resulting to dryness and flaky skin, causing redness and unpleasant stinging sensations.
As mentioned earlier, the skin irritation only lasts a couple of weeks as your skin get adjusted to the new routine.
To minimize skin irritation, you can try these easy tips
Instead to using less cream, you can start with a lower concentration of Tretinoin.
Use only mild skincare products. Switch to gentle non-fragrantic cleansers and moisturizers. Avoid using agressive skin treatments like acid exfoliation.
If irritation is too bad to handle, contact your dermatologist right away. Ask your doctor to prescribe a cortisteroid cream to bring down the irritation and inflammation.
Use a pea-sized amount of tretinoid (don’t use more than the said quantity) and rub it gently or use a roller application to spread it evenly on the skin.
It will take several months to witness a solid result. However, it will take some effort to change your Tretinoin routine and monitor which dosage works best for you. Consider the first few months as your learning period and allowing your skin to get used to the topical cream. As time progresses you will learn how the cream is working out and see the incredible transformation in your skin that you have so much craved for a long time.
Tretinoin Cream: Skin Benefits, How to Use, Side Effects (healthline.com)
Tretinoin: Benefits, uses, side effects, similar drugs, and more (medicalnewstoday.com)
What to Expect with Tretinoin: Benefits and Side Effects – Dear Brightly
How to Layer Skin Care Products With Tretinoin | Dr. Bailey (drbaileyskincare.com)
10 Tips to Integrate Your Skincare Routine with Tretinoin (bywinona.com)