Types of retinoid creams and general information
Retinoid creams are available in various levels of strengths, depending on the active ingredients and the concentrations. Some can only be prescribed by a physician (usually those with stronger active ingredients) while others can be purchased over-the-counter. The stronger retinoid creams improve the appearance of the skin faster, but have stronger side effects when you first start using them.
Depending on the skin condition treated, it may take 6 weeks (e.g. for acne) to 12 months (e.g. for wrinkles) of regular use before improvements in the appearance of the skin may be observed.
Caution: Pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, and women who are planning on becoming pregnant should not use retinoids.
Retinoid creams may be helpful for several skin conditions
- Reducing wrinkles, fading age spots, and reducing precancerous skin spots called actinic keratosis.
- Clearing acne, reducing acne outbreaks, and reducing the formation of acne scars.
- Slowing the growth of skin cells in patients with psoriasis.
- Treating flat warts on the back of the hands.
- Treating Kaposi sarcoma (a rare form of cancer).
Possible side effects
- Skin dryness and irritation
- Redness, swelling, crusting, or blistering
- Skin color changes
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Worsening of your acne
You can minimize these side effects by:
- Using the product every other day until your body gets used to it.
- Never using more of the product or using it more frequently than your doctor prescribes or the package label says.
- Staying out of the sun and using sunscreen.
- Using a moisturizer to avoid dry skin.
Retinol is simply another name for vitamin A. It's a type of retinoid, the family of chemical compounds related to vitamin A. Other retinoids include: retinoic acid (also known as tretinoin), retinyl palmitate, and retinaldehyde.