class of acne medication falls under the category of a comedolytic agent. This
means that it helps to fight and get rid of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads).
Retinoids work by entering the cells and binding to certain receptors
where they help to change the way the skin is turning over. In doing so, retinoids
decrease the amount of "stickiness" that the skin has making it less
likely to block a pore.
used to be thought that retinoids were only good for comedones, but more recent
evidence shows that they are also very successful at fighting inflammatory lesions
as well (pimples, etc.). As such, retinoids are considered first line for most
patients with acne.
Prescription retinoids include Differin, Retin-a, Avita, and
The main side effects of retinoids are dryness and irritation.
This is mostly seen early in
treatment and continued use usually resutls in
to decrease side effects
Beacuse retinoids typically cause most of their
irritation early in treatment, it may help to start slowly. Rather than starting
every night, it may be best to start every other night or even every third night.
Once you tolerate this for a week or so, you can gradually increase the frequency
of use until the can tolerate daily application.
can also be decreased by applying the retinoid about 20-30 minutes after washing
the face with cool water. Warm or hot water may open your pores more increasing
the liklihood of irritation. In addition, topical medications tend to penetrate
better on wet skin, so allowing your skin to completely dry will decrease irritation.