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.
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
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.