Use of Retin-A Cream
Retin-A is an extremely useful medication for treatment of acne and photodamaged skin. However, irritation of the skin is a common side effect of treatment. It is important to avoid use of other products that may worsen this irritation, including harsh deodorant soaps, abrasive cleansers, alcohol-containing astringents or toners and many acne washes. Face washing should be minimized to only once or twice daily. Use only mild soap-free liquid cleansers labeled for use on dry sensitive skin. Such products include Cetaphil cleansing lotion, Purpose gentle cleansing wash, Neutrogena non-drying cleansing lotion, Basis facial cleanser, Oil of Olay foaming face wash and many others.
Retin-A should be applied sparingly to affected areas at bedtime. Use only a pea-sized amount on the fingertip and spread this amount all across the affected areas of the face. You may want to begin with every other or every third night applications, and then increase frequency to every night use after your skin has become accommodated to the drug. If irritation recurs, then reduce the frequency of the application again as needed.
Regular and frequent use of facial moisturizers is important to counteract the irritation from Retin-A. These can be applied in the morning beneath make-up with reapplication during the day as needed to dry areas. For acne patients, be sure the label indicates that the product is safe for acne-prone skin (non-comedogenic). Such products include Cetaphil, Neutrogena, Purpose and many others, including facial moisturizers made by cosmetics manufacturers. Avoid products that feel greasy, as these will likely clog pores and worsen acne.
In addition, Retin-A will make your skin sunburn more easily. Regular use of a sunscreen with an SPF of 15-30 is important. For acne patients, be sure the sunscreen is labeled as safe for acne-prone skin or non-comedogenic.
Follow these recommendations closely and you will find that your skin will able to tolerate Retin-A. Do not let this expected irritation side effect make you abandon use of this extremely helpful medication.
Back to Patient Teaching article list