Using Retin-A

What is it?
Retin-A is used for the treatment of acne. It is sold by Ortho Pharmaceutical Company in the form of liquid, cream, or gel, and it contains tretinoin (retinoic acid and vitamin A). Retin-A is used topically on the portions of skin that are affected by acne. There is also some research that shows that it minimizes fine lines and may reverse some of the effects of sun damage.

Recommended Usage
It is recommended that Retin-A be used only once a day. Usage more often than this may cause redness, peeling, or discomfort and will not result in a better or more rapid outcome. In fact, using Retin-A too often may cause the skin to end up worse than it started.

Side Effects
Side effects may include heightened sensitivity to sunlight exposure on the areas of skin where Retin-A is used. In addition, some areas of skin may become red, blistered, or crusted. If any of these side effects are observed, treatment should be discontinued until the symptoms subside. Very few people have reported being allergic to the compound itself, but if you experience these symptoms, you should consult with your doctor to determine if you should continue treatment.

Retin-A and Pregnancy
So far, it is not known what effect Retin-A will have on pregnant women, or those nursing. Retin-A is classified as a Class C drug for pregnancy. That means that the risks of taking it during pregnancy should be outweighed by the benefits. The Classes range from A (no restrictions) to B, C, D, and X (absolutely prohibited). While the oral form, Accutane, is extremely harmful in pregnancy (it is an X), nothing similar has been found for Retin-A.

Animal studies showed no permanent damage with frequent use (as much as hundreds of times). The animal studies found delays in bone development of the offspring, but not outside the normal range. These differences usually disappeared by the time of weaning. There have been no studies in pregnant women. There has also been no clearly documented harm. Tretinoin may be secreted in breast milk, and the effect of this is unknown.

How does it work?
It is unknown exactly how Retin-A works, but it is thought that it may somehow loosen the connections between skin cells while at the same time stimulating the growth of new cells. This, in turn, helps to expel blackheads. The skin will be loosened, allowing dirt to be washed away. Older cells that were partly the cause of acne will be sloughed off and new cells will take their place.

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