Tretinoin cream is available in a variety of concentrations, ranging from .05 percent cream to creams containing up to .1 percent tretinoin.
The type of tretinoin cream you use to treat acne, like many other skincare medications, can have a significant impact on your results as well as your risk of experiencing side effects.
We've listed all of the different tretinoin cream concentrations that are available in the United States below. We've also discussed which concentration is best for treating and preventing acne.
We've also discussed how tretinoin can be used as an acne treatment to prevent breakouts and keep your skin clear all year.
What Exactly Is Acne?
Acne vulgaris, also known as acne vulgaris, is a common skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles, or pores, become clogged with a mixture of sebum, dead skin cells, and other substances.
Acne affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. For some, it is a condition that develops during adolescence. Adult acne breakouts, which can occur in a person's 30s, 40s, and even well into middle age, are a lifelong annoyance for others.
Acne breakouts are caused by a variety of factors. One of these is sebum, a natural oil produced by your sebaceous glands.
When sebum accumulates on the surface layer of your skin, it can seep into your pores and clog them.
Another factor in acne is the accumulation of dead skin cells over time. These cells, which are left over from the epidermal turnover process, can combine with sebum to clog pores and cause acne.
Acne can become infected, inflamed, and painful when bacteria begin to multiply inside a clogged pore.
Acne can range in severity from minor comedones to severe nodules and cysts that cause skin irritation.
Forms of Acne
When your pores become clogged with sebum and/or dead skin cells, these small acne lesions form. Both whiteheads and blackheads are common forms of comedonal acne.
Because of the presence of bacteria, these acne lesions are red, tender, and occasionally painful. Consider a typical red, inflamed pimple. Inflammatory acne commonly manifests as papules and pustules.
Nodular and Cystic
When bacteria multiply inside acne lesions deep within your skin, these severe forms of acne develop. Nodular and cystic acne are frequently difficult to treat and can leave acne scars.
How Does Tretinoin Treat Acne?
Tretinoin is one of the most powerful acne treatment on the market today. In fact, tretinoin and other topical acne treatments have been referred to as a "mainstay" of therapy for acne breakouts in studies.
Retinoids, such as tretinoin, work by speeding up the process by which your skin produces new cells, a process known as epidermal turnover.
To understand how this prevents acne, we must first cover the fundamentals of how your skin maintains and repairs itself, as well as the effects this process can have on the texture and appearance of your skin.
Your skin serves several purposes. These include acting as a barrier against infectious pathogens like fungi and bacteria, regulating your temperature, keeping water inside your body, and protecting your organs from UV radiation and its effects.
In other words, your skin does more than just make you look good. The outer layer of your skin, known as the epidermis, is responsible for the majority of this work.
Your epidermis constantly produces new cells to replace older, worn ones in order to maintain itself. These cells are formed in the skin's basal layers. They gradually travel to the surface over time, allowing your older skin cells to detach and shed into the environment.
This process is known as epidermal turnover. Consider it your skin's way of applying a fresh coat of paint as each old layer is worn away by the environment.
The length of the epidermal turnover process varies according to age and a variety of other factors. The epidermis of most people changes every 40 to 56 days.
So, what does this have to do with acne, and how does tretinoin play a role in it?
One of the most important factors in the development of acne breakouts is the accumulation of old skin cells on the surface layer of your skin.
Tretinoin aids in the exfoliation of dead skin cells by promoting skin cell turnover. This reduces your chances of developing clogged pores that develop into comedones or other types of acne.
Tretinoin has other skin benefits in addition to its ability to treat acne. It directly stimulates collagen production, which can lighten and conceal lines, wrinkles, and other signs of facial ageing.
It can also help with photodamaged skin, which is rough, dry, or unevenly pigmented as a result of sun exposure.
These non-acne benefits are covered in greater detail in our guide to using tretinoin to treat wrinkles and skin ageing.
How Fast Does Tretinoin Work?
Tretinoin begins to work as soon as it is absorbed by your skin, but it usually takes a few months before you notice any significant improvements.
In most studies, it takes three to six months for tretinoin to produce visible improvements in acne severity. During this time, you may notice that your skin improves gradually, or that you have fewer pimples or other types of acne.
Some people who use tretinoin for acne experience a tretinoin "purge," which is an increase in acne, skin irritation, and other symptoms after starting tretinoin treatment.
This is a temporary problem that usually resolves itself after a few months. After starting tretinoin, it's critical to persevere and be patient.
It does work, but it may take a few months before you notice any significant changes in your skin.
Which Tretinoin Cream Concentrations Are There?
Tretinoin acne cream is available in several strengths in the United States, ranging from .025 percent, .05 percent, and .1 percent.
Side Effects of Tretinoin Concentrations
Tretinoin is a medication that is both safe and effective for the vast majority of people. However, it, like all medications, has the potential for side effects.
The majority of these are minor and temporary, but there are a few you should be aware of before using any tretinoin-containing product.
Tretinoin may cause the following side effects:
A stinging or warming sensation
Skin that is red, scaling, or dry
An increase in acne lesions for a short period of time
Lighter or darker skin discolouration
Blisters, crusting, and swelling of the skin
Pain, burning, redness, or flakiness are all symptoms of a bacterial infection.
Tretinoin can also have serious side effects, especially if you have sensitive skin or skin that is easily irritated by topical treatments.
If you experience severe irritation, hives, itching, or pain after applying topical tretinoin, contact your dermatologist right away.
Another important tretinoin side effect to be aware of is that it can increase your skin's susceptibility to sunlight, making you more susceptible to sunburn.
If you use tretinoin, you should exercise caution in bright sunlight. Wear protective clothing to shield your face from bright sunlight, apply sunscreen, and avoid prolonged sun exposure, even if it is artificial, as much as possible.
The higher the concentration of tretinoin cream, as with most skin medications, the more significant the results.
Creams with a higher tretinoin concentration are more effective at preventing acne and premature skin ageing, but they are also more likely to cause side effects.
These side effects may be more common if you combine tretinoin with another acne treatment, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
What Tretinoin Strength Should I Use for Acne?
There is no "best" concentration of tretinoin cream for the treatment of acne because everyone's skin is different.
Most people who use tretinoin, whether for acne prevention or as an anti-aging cream, experiment with different concentrations over time before settling on the type of cream that works best for their skin.
Most dermatologists in the India begin by prescribing low strength medications to their patients.
If this cream is ineffective in treating your acne, your doctor may advise you to try a stronger tretinoin cream.
If you experience side effects like skin irritation, redness, or peeling, your doctor may recommend switching to a lower strength tretinoin cream, using the cream less frequently, or using an alcohol-free face moisturiser in conjunction with the tretinoin cream to prevent dryness.
Finally, keep in mind that tretinoin frequently causes the most serious side effects during the first two to six weeks of use.
This means that even if the concentration and dosage are perfect, there is still a chance that you will experience irritation and other "purge" effects when you begin treatment.