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Retinoids are the most prescribed acne treatments, but not without controversy. There are 3 retinoids on the market: (1) tretinoin, (2) adapalene, and (3) tazarotene, with tretinoin being the most prescribed. While relatively safe, their lack of powerful results, tendency to produce discomfort (particularly with tazarotene), and likelihood to increase the skin's susceptibility to sunburn, makes the cost/benefit decision difficult, particularly when proper application of over-the-counter treatments can produce better and more consistent results. However, they are a mainstay of acne treatment for their ability to help skin cells keep turning over, reducing inflammation, and helping to prevent acne from becoming worse. 

The bottom line: If you choose to use retinoids, be realistic about results, and ask your doctor if you can combine them with other treatments to increase the chance of clear skin.

Latest in Retinoids

Retinoids Do Topical Retinoids Increase Sensitivity to the Sun? Topical retinoids include tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene. All three come with package inserts that warn about sun exposure and recommend sun protection. However, published evidence is scant on this subject. Still, it is always a good idea to protect your skin from the sun. February 07, 2020
Retinoids What Are Retinoids, and Why Are They Used to Treat Acne? When people refer to retinoids in acne treatment, they are normally referring to the three approved prescription topical retinoids: tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene. All three work by unclogging pores and reducing irritation. They are unlikely to completely clear the skin on their own, however. February 07, 2020
Retinoids What's the Difference Between Retinol and Retinoids? Retinol & retinoids are both derivatives of vitamin A that are used to treat various skin diseases. However, retinol is available over-the-counter and retinoids are only available by prescription (except for 0.1% adapalene). Retinol is weaker than retinoids and comes with less side effects. February 03, 2020