At present external retinoids are most common topical medications for acne ailment. These are most often prescribed by the dermatologists globally for the eradication as well as thwarting further recurrence of acne blemishes.

What are Retinoids?

Retinoids are the derivatives of fat soluble vitamin A. These are the most popular choice of treatment for mild to moderate type of acne blemishes like blackheads, whiteheads, and other comedonal acne. These are also used alongside other prescribed oral drugs in order to heal moderate to severe forms of acne.
Till now three generations of external retinoids are scientifically recognized; these are classified into three major categories: nonaromatics (e.g., tretinoin), monoaromatics, and polyaromatics (e.g., adapalene, tazatorene). These retinoids are anti-inflammatory in nature and widely used as over-the-counter topical acne treatments.

How Retinoids Work?

The purpose of each and every acne medication is to diminish and eventually eradicate the flare up of basic acne lesions, known as microcomedones. These lesions are initial forms of other mild and moderate to severe acne blemishes like blackheads, whiteheads, nodules, cysts, etc. External retinoids nip microcomedones in the bud by opening up the clogged pores, normalizing the cell distribution inside the hair follicles, and purging the unwanted waste blocked inside the follicles.

Use of External Retinoids as Acne Medication

Use of External Retinoids as Acne Medication

A Few Most Important Topical Retinoids

A. Tretinoin

This is the generic name of retinoic acid. Also known as vitamin A acid, this first generation retinoid is the best known external retinoid. These are mostly effective in growing the turnover of hair follicular cells and eliminating dead skin cells and thereby sloughing off microcomedones and putting off any further comedonal formation.
Tretonin is available in the form of cream (0.025%, 0.05%, and 0.1%), gel (0.01% and 0.025%), and solution (0.05%). These are commercially available in generic names as well as some brand names like Retin-A, Avita, and Renova. The order of reactivity of the product decreases in the order of solution form > gel form > cream form.
Tretinoin takes atleast six to nine weeks to show any visible improvement of the skin. So, it is advisable not to lose patience if you do not notice any difference within a couple of days or weeks. It might come up with side effects like epidermal irritation and pustular eruptions. If you got a sensitive skin it is preferable to avoid this medication. As this external retinoid augments photosensitization of skin, it would be beneficial to use a sun screen lotion if you have a plan to go out in the sun after using this topical medication. This chemical breaks down in presence of benzoyl peroxide and therefore cannot be used together. Apply retinoid with a lower strength at night before going to bed to get the maximum output.

B. Adapalene

Adapalene bears similar characteristics like tretinoin. It is comedolytic in nature and controls keratinization and inflammation of follicular cells. This external retinoid is useful for sensitive skin as it is more tolerable compared to tretinoin.
Adapalene is available in the form of cream or gel (0.1% strength) and commercially available as Differin.
You might have to wait for 2 to 12 weeks before you could see the full beneficial effect of this retinoid. It could be used in presence of benzoyl peroxide. Side effects of this medication include mild stinging or irritation and inflammation of the affected area.

C. Tazarotene

This third generation external retinoid is found to be more efficient than tretinoin in treating non-inflammatory acne and trimming down the quantity of open comedones if used once a day.
This topical retinoid is commercialized in the name of Tazorac. It is available in the form of gel with the strength of 0.05% and 0.1%.
Many patients have experienced burning, stinging, or irritation with redness of the skin while using this medication. Therefore, it is advised not to use this medication for more than 30 seconds to 5 minutes to achieve the best possible result. Pregnant women should not apply this retinoid unless prescribed by any dermatologist as it is believed that tazarotene might impart birth defect to the unborn child during pregnancy. It also could make your skin sensitive to UV and sun. Try your best to keep yourself out of sun or wearing tight clothing and apply sun screen cream or lotion before going out.

Last Few Words

External retinoids could be the perfect answer for anyone scuffling with mild acne problems unless the person is unable to cope with the side effects. Always stick to your medical prescriber’s directions and maintain this skin care medication on a regular basis to get the best result.