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Dec 14, 2022

Skin Health


Retinoids for Acne

One of the most prevalent, damaging, and difficult skin conditions for both men and women of all ages is acne. Treatment planning isn’t any easier. After 12 weeks of Epiduo therapy, 21.5% to 47.2% of individuals reported improvement in their acne and either clear or almost clear skin.

Read our blog What Causes Acne

Topical Retinoids for Acne?

Topical retinoids take approximately 4–12 weeks to work and acne can worsen initially. An antibiotic (often minocycline or clindamycin) combined with retinoids can help.

Adapalene/benzoyl peroxide gel (Epiduo, Epiduo Forte)

Apply daily, usually at bedtime, about 20 minutes after washing your face

A pea-sized amount is sufficient (for facial application); it should be divided into 4 equal parts and smoothed over the entire surface of your face, not just on acne.

Comparable to vitamin A is adapalene, it promotes skin renewal. There is an antibacterial effect of benzoyl peroxide, it has a light drying action that makes it simple to wipe away excess oils and dirt from your skin.

Epiduo and Epiduo Forte both contain the same active ingredients and are approved to treat acne in individuals ages 9 and older. However, the adapalene in them varies in strength. The strengths of the drugs used to make Epiduo and Epiduo Forte are as follows:

  • Epiduo—contains 0.1% adapalene and 2.5% benzoyl peroxide gel
  • Epiduo Forte—contains 0.3% adapalene and 2.5% benzoyl peroxide gel

Adapalene (Differin)

Apply daily, usually at bedtime, about 20 minutes after washing your face

  • Differin is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) gel in 0.1%
  • Differin is also available as a prescription gel in 0.3% strength

Tretinoin (Atralin, Renova, Retin-A, Retin-A micro, Altreno, Avita, Refissa, Tretin-X)

Apply daily, usually at bedtime, about 20 minutes after washing your face

  • Tretinoin is available as a cream, gel, and lotion with a prescription.
  • Retin-A micro 0.1% is a slow-release option that causes less skin irritation

Tazarotene (cream: Tazorac, Avage), (foam: Fabior), (gel: Tazorac)

Apply daily, usually at bedtime, about 20 minutes after washing your face

  • Tazarotene is available as a gel in 0.05% and 0.1% strength
Retinoids side effects
  • Mild skin irritation
  • Skin redness
  • Scaling
  • Skin dryness
  • Stinging and/or burning
  • Photosensitivity/Increased sensitivity to the sun (limit sun exposure while taking this medication, and use sunscreen when outdoors)

These side effects are primarily mild to moderate in intensity, most frequently occur during the first 4 weeks of treatment, and typically get better with continued use of this medication.

Oral Retinoids

Oral retinoids are only available by prescription.

Isotretinoin (Absorica, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan)

Isotretinoin, formerly known as Accutane, is an oral retinoid that is occasionally used for severe refectory nodular acne.

This medication should ot be taken when pregnant, breastfeeding, or in the month leading up to conception because it has been linked to miscarriage and birth abnormalities.

Female patients must sign a patient information/informed consent form about birth defects that contains warnings about the risk of potential birth defects if the fetus is exposed to isotretinoin. Women taking this medication must have 2 negative pregnancy tests prior to starting treatment.

While taking this medication, women cannot get pregnant for 1 month before, or for 1 month after the drug is stopped. Do not breastfeed or donate blood until at least 1 month has passed after the drug is stopped.

Isotretinoin can only be dispensed by a pharmacy registered and activated with the pregnancy REMS (iPLEDGE) program. 1-month prescription at a time, filled within 7 days.

Some women find benefits with oral contraceptive pills, especially if acne occurs around the menstrual cycle, or if irregular menses (periods) are present.

What To Look Out For When Using A Retinoid

  • Sun exposure should be limited with topical retinoids.
  • If irritation occurs, use lower strength, or every other night. You may need to reduce contact initially (wash off if your skin is irritated).
  • Retinoids are teratogenic (drugs that can cause birth defects). They must be avoided in individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Speak With Your Doctor

The cost of over-the-counter (OTC) acne treatments in the United States exceeds $3 billion annually, with prescription acne medications and doctor visits costing an additional $3 billion. Don’t be one of them. Talk to your healthcare provider and send your prescription to Marley Drug. Save up to 95% compared to your local pharmacy by using Marley Drug.

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