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Retin-A 101

Retin-A is a familiar word to all who are initiated in the art of skincare. It’s hailed as effective in treating almost everything — from acne to wrinkles to dark spots to saggy skin. It sounds like a magical ingredient, but its effectiveness comes down to pure science. What really is this medication? How does it work? Let’s find out.

Retin-A: A Short Introduction

Retin-A is a prescription medication that belongs in the class of retinoids. It is the branded medication of the generic ingredient tretinoin, which is what Alpha Medical prescribes. Retin-A exfoliates skin chemically and encourages the growth of new skin by increasing the rate of cell turnover.

This ability has a wide range of applications from reducing and healing acne to the prevention and reversal of wrinkles.

Retin-A is a retinoid, which means that to understand what it is, we need to understand what retinoids are. Retinoids are a class of medications derived from vitamin A. There are a couple of retinoid compounds such as retinol, retinyl esters, and retinaldehyde are frequently available in over-the-counter skincare. However, Retin-A and tretinoin preparations generally have been scientifically studied and found to be effective on a variety of skincare concerns. So depending on your concern, it’s best to speak to a clinician to receive a Retin-A prescription.

How does Retin-A Work?

Retin-A has a couple of properties that are useful in achieving beautiful, clear skin. First, it is comedolytic. You may recognize this word from the other skincare buzzword non-comedogenic. These two words both relate to the clogging of pores, and while non-comedogenic means that something does not clog pores, a comedolytic actually helps prevent pores from clogging.

Secondly, Retin-A speeds up cell turnover. Cell turnover is another skincare buzzword, and for a good reason. It’s used to describe the process by which our skin produces new cells that travel from the bottom layers of our skin to the top, shedding shortly thereafter. The rate of cell turnover is important because it describes how fast your skin is healing and producing beautiful, young skin cells.

What Can I Expect?

Retin-A is effective on acne, wrinkles, dark spots, and sagging skin — however, it needs to be given a chance to work. Most retinoid preparations will become fully effective over a period of 12 weeks.

From there on, you need to closely monitor your skin’s reaction to the medication and continue usage as long as you are seeing skin symptoms. This means that if you have chronic acne, you will need to continue to apply Retin-A to manage your skin’s condition.

For people who are expected to need to use Retin-A long term, it is a good idea to speak to a doctor and work out a skincare plan that covers nutrition, sunscreen usage, and a look into any underlying issues that may be the cause of pertinent skin conditions.

Side Effects

As with any medication, Retin-A has side effects that need to be considered before beginning usage. Most of these side effects are mild and include drying or peeling of the application site, or an increased sensitivity to the sun.

Severe side effects include but are not limited to blistering, crusting, or severe burning of the skin. If you experience any of these, discontinue application immediately and contact a doctor to receive further instruction.


Retin-A is a very effective treatment, however there are some people who should avoid using it. This includes pregnant women, those who are allergic to Vitamin A or any other ingredients in the preparation being used, and those who have experienced or are experiencing eczema. The product should also not be used alongside other retinoids and products that contain sulfur (such as salicylic acid).

Before starting treatment with Retin-A, it is advised that you thoroughly and completely discuss current medications and your medical history with a trained professional.

Talk to an Alpha ProviderToday

If you’re struggling with acne, wrinkles, dark spots, or saggy skin, you should speak to a clinician to see what options are available to you. While not for everyone, Retin-A offers a powerful treatment option for those who suffer from acne, wrinkles, saggy skin, and dark spots. If you are concerned about the possibility of negative side effects or drying, you can be assured that with Alpha, you are always available to consult a professional without the weeks or months long wait at a physical physician’s practice.



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