What Are Topical Retinoids?
Retinoids are a class of medications derived from vitamin A that are used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne, aging skin, and psoriasis. They work to unclog pores, boost collagen to reduce fine lines, and speed cell turnover to even out discoloration and smooth the skin.
Topical retinoids are formulated for use on the skin and are available at Goodman Dermatology by prescription only. There are several brands of topical retinoids available, including:
- Tretinoin (Retin-A Micro, generic)
- Adapalene (Differin)
- Tazarotene (Tazorac)
The physicians at Goodman Dermatology located north of Atlanta in Roswell, GA recommend retinoid use to their patients with acne as well as those who want the anti-aging benefits.
Tretinoin – Retin A
The first retinoid, tretinoin, was FDA approved over 40 years age. It was introduced as an acne treatment but dermatologists began noticing that their patients using Retin-A, experienced not only clearer skin but softer, brighter, less lined skin.
Adapalene is a retinoid medication used to treat acne. It works by affecting the growth of cells and decreasing swelling and inflamation. It is recommended for use once daily at bedtime.
Dermatologists find Tazarotene the stronger of the 3 available retinoids. Because it is stronger, it has the potential to be more irritating. The physicians at Goodman Dermatology recommend using at bedtime and also with a moisturing cream so that skin will not be as dry and flaky.
Common Side Effects
All topical retinoids are safe and effective, but there are several common side effects, including skin dryness and irritation. Irritation associated with topical retinoid use (“retinoid dermatitis”) occurs most commonly within the first 2 to 4 weeks of therapy and lessens with continued use. The regular use of a gentle skin cleanser and moisturizer can also help relieve the irritation.
Topical retinoids can also increase the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light. If you use a topical retinoid, you should also use a sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 to prevent additional skin irritation.
Topical retinoids are usually prescribed for use once per day, at night. The use at night is recommended because the sun’s UV radiation can degrade the medication and diminish its effectiveness.
Retinoids can help repair skin damage due to chronic sun exposure and natural aging.
Clinical studies of topical retinoids have also shown them to be effective in diminishing fine lines and superficial wrinkles. Retinoids may slow down the onset of wrinkles and extend the time between other wrinkle treatments.
Topical retinoids reduce signs of aging by stimulating collagen production, leading to a more youthful appearance.
Retinoids for Anti-Aging Benefits
Using these at least 2-3 times a week can lead to a noticeable improvement over two to 6 months. The benefits of using retinoids for aging skin include:
- Visual reduction in the number and depth of wrinkles
- Improvement of the skin’s texture (smoother skin)
- Reversal of abnormal pigmentation (fading of dark spots)
Treatment with a topical retinoid should be started before the skin is significantly damaged. To find out which retinoid would be best for you, make an appointment with one of the physicians at Goodman Dermatology conveniently located to those living in Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Cumming, Marietta, Sandy Springs, Suwanee, Duluth and Roswell.