Topical Retinoids

What are Retinoids?

Topical retinoids are vitamin A creams which have been treating acne and many other skin conditions for many years. They were first introduced to treat acne, but are becoming popular to treat wrinkles, sun damage and skin conditions such as plaque psoriasis. They are available in a cream or a gel, and are usually only applied once a day, usually before going to bed. They are available as a prescribed treatment, or can be found over the counter.

What can Topical Retinoids Treat?

Using topical retinoids for acne can help to unclog the pores. This will allow other medications and treatments used for acne help better by penetrating into the skin further. Dead skin cells will not be permitted to clog the pores, and can also help with the formation of acne scars. Use the topical retinoid after cleansing the face, once the face has fully dried.

Individuals with psoriasis can use topical retinoids. Topical retinoids will help to slow the growth of the lesions on the skin. Typically, retinoids are applied once daily on the lesion before going to bed. They will often be paired up with a steroid.

Topical retinoids can be used to treat wrinkles and other signs of ageing. They will stimulate the production of collagen, and give the skin a rosy glow since the blood vessels are stimulated. Age spots can be faded. Topical retinoids can be applied to the face, arms, neck, chest and hands at least twice a week. Improvement in wrinkles can take 3 months or longer, with results typically seen in 6 to 12 months.

Those with warts can find relief in the use of topical retinoids. They will work on the wart by interrupting the wart’s cell growth. Usually the cream prescribed will work within a few months, and the wart will disappear.

Risks and Side Effects to Topical Retinoids

There are some risk associated with the use of topical retinoids. Skin irritation can be seen when using them. Nearly anyone that used topical retinoids will see some form of this, either with redness of skin, burning, stinging, peeling, swelling and scaling of the skin, and blistering skin. Retinoids will also increase one’s sensitivity to the sun. This is due to the fact that the top layer of skin is being removed when using topical retinoids. This is why it is recommended that the product be applied only at night, and the use of a high quality SPF be used during the day to block out the sun’s harmful rays.

Tips for using Topical Retinoids

Tips to consider using when applying topical retinoids that may be helpful to some include using the product less often and working your way up if it irritates the skin. Some may find it helpful to use it daily, leave it on for an hour and then rinse off in the beginning stages. Topical retinoids may not be safe to use with other topical acne products. You should consult with your skin specialist to discuss if you need to stop or cut back on their usage. Wait half an hour or more after cleansing the face to apply a topical retinoid. The skin should be completely dry. Use only a small bit and spread it out as much as you can. A little bit goes a long way here. Use oil free cosmetics if the face is oily and gentle cleansers to further help the skin.

To minimise dryness of the skin, use a moisturiser with the topical retinoids. Use only the amount recommended and only use it as frequently as prescribed or stated on the packaging directions. Using more frequently will only aid in side effects, and will not help the product work any more effectively.  Avoid being in the sun, and wear an SPF of at least 30.

4 replies
  1. JessicaCuraPrava
    JessicaCuraPrava says:

    Great article here on topical retinoids. I have been using a topical retinoid that was prescribed by my dermatologist for about 8 months now. I love it and what it has done for my skin. I suffer from psoriasis, and so I do apply the cream once a day, at night, on my skin that is effected by the psoriasis. It has helped greatly. My skin is clearing up and I am not as self conscious about it. I highly recommend if you have psoriasis, you do ask your doctor or dermatologist about topical retinoids to heal your lesions as well.

  2. puppy_lover
    puppy_lover says:

    I have been using topical retinoids on my face for the past year. I have decided that my aging skin needs to look younger and I have seen an improvement in the way I look. My wrinkles do not look as pronounced anymore. I have more confidence now as well. I feel that I do not look as old as I really am. My skin did get rather dry to begin with, but I started out full force, using the cream once a day at night, every night. I should have really did every other night until my skin was used to the treatment. I do use a moisturizing cream now with it as well. That has helped the most in allowing moisture to get to my skin.

  3. nice_lady7
    nice_lady7 says:

    Ladies, when it says it will make you sensitive to the sun, you better believe it. I was using a topical retinoid for about a week and then we went on the river boating one Sunday. I forgot my sunscreen, but figured I would be OK as I never burn. Well I could not have been more wrong. My face was bright red by the time we got home. I regret not taking the sunscreen with me. That is one mistake that I will never make again. It hurt and then my face started to peel really bad about 5 days after the burn. It looked awful. So do not put yourself in the same situation that I was in. NEVER forget the sunscreen, no matter if you think you will not burn. I learned my lesson the hard way, and do not wish that on my worst enemy!

  4. Nanny11
    Nanny11 says:

    I have a wart on my finger and was wondering if I could use topical retinoids for this? I have tried using the over the counter wart remover at my local pharmacy and that does not work at all. I have used it for about 2 and a half weeks now and it has done nothing for me. The wart has not changed in size or gone down. Do you need this in prescription strength to work for warts? Do you think that my regular doctor would be able to prescribe a topical retinoid or do they need to be prescribed by an actual dermatologist?


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