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Dermatologists have used Retin-A for the treatment of acne and wrinkles for more than 25 years. The active ingredient works to unclog pores and keep the skin clear by preventing the formation of whiteheads and blackheads.


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Tretinoin, also known as the trademarked product Retin-A, is a derivative of vitamin A that helps to clear acne by rejuvenating the collagen layer of the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It can also reduce signs of aging.


This drug comes in a variety of strengths and formulations. Dermatologists commonly prescribe Retin-A cream rather than gel because the cream dries out the skin less.


The most commonly prescribed strengths of Retin-A are 0.025 percent, 0.05 percent and 0.1 percent creams, depending on the severity of the acne and reaction to previous treatment methods.

Low Strength vs. High Strength

Dermatologist Peter Pacik says that patients benefit most by starting with the lowest strength of Retin-A, a .025 percent formulation. This concentration conditions the skin before increasing the concentration to .05 percent. The dermatologist also notes that higher concentrations may be more difficult for some patients to tolerate. Most patients can tolerate .025 percent concentration, but speak with your dermatologist to find the best treatment option for your acne.


The use of Retin-A may cause minor skin irritation, dryness and redness as well as sensitivity to light. Use sunscreen or shield the skin from sun exposure and follow your dermatologist's directions for use to minimize side effects.