RETIN-A AND TAZORAC

Retin-A and Tazorac are both vitamin A-based drugs called retinoids. Retin-A is the name brand of a drug called tretinoin. Tazorac is the name brand for a drug called tazarotene. Retinoids can speed skin-cell turnover and boost collagen production. Tazorac comes in a gel or a cream. Retin-A comes in cream, gel or liquid form. Both Tazorac and Retin-A require a doctor’s prescription.

Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A and include retinol, retinaldehyde, retinyl esters, and retinoic acid. These compounds are primarily used to treat acne, photodamage, and psoriasis. The use of retinol and tretinoin (trans-retinoic acid) have taken front stage in the prevention and management of wrinkles with tretinoin having been scientifically shown to improve the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of sun-induced damage. While irritation is a primary side effect of these compounds, many of the new formulations often contain hydrating components to prevent dryness and scaling.

Retinoids should not be used in pregnant women or women attempting to become pregnant.


Tretinoin (Retin-A®) and Tazarotene (Tazorac®) Therapy

Tretinoin (Retin-A®) and Tazarotene (Tazorac®) are retinoids that work extremely well in the prevention of comedones responsible for acne formation. Both of these are prescription medications that are core components of most acne regimens.

Tretinoin (Retin-A®) should initially be applied in a pea-sized amount for the entire face. The pea-sized amount is placed on the finger tip, dabbed in different areas of the face, and then rubbed into the skin. It should initially be applied every other night in order to determine tolerance to the drying effects of the medication. If every other night application does not cause drying, then it may be safe to use the medication every night. The medication is applied at night because sunlight deactivates the molecule making morning application less effective.

Tazarotene (Tazorac®) is a very strong and irritating retinoid used for both acne and psoriasis. This retinoid is extremely effective, but must be used cautiously since the drying side effect can be quite uncomfortable. Tazarotene may be started by applying a pea-sized amount to the entire face (as described above) for 5 minutes and then washing it off. This should be done every other night and then increased to every night if tolerated. Once 5 minutes of contact every other night is deemed to be non-irritating, the time may be increased to 10 minutes and then washed off. Likewise, the contact time may be methodically increased per week to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, and then overnight should no irritation occur.

Both of these agents have been used as anti-aging creams as well (Renova® and Avage®). These creams were formulated to be somewhat less irritating. A prescription will be needed for either of these medications.


How to use these medications

Tretinoin / Retin-A® / Retin-A Micro®

  • place a pea-sized amount on the tip of your finger, dab small areas on your entire face, and then rub the medication in
  • this medication should be applied every other night for one to two weeks; if tolerated without dryness, cracking, or irritation, then you may apply this medication every night
  • if your skin becomes red, dry, scaly, or irritated, then take a day or two off in between applications
  • this medication will be deactivated by sunlight, thus it is primarily applied at night

Tazorac®

  • place a pea-sized amount on the tip of your finger, dab small areas on your entire face, and then rub the medication in
  • this medication should be applied for 5 minutes and then washed off every other night for the first week; then, 10 minutes every other night for the second week, 20 minutes every other night for the third week, 1 hour every other night for the fourth week, then all night every other night for the fifth week, then all night every night thereafter
  • if your skin becomes red, dry, scaly, or irritated, then take a day or two off in between applications
  • this medication is not made to use twice a day since it is quite irritating

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