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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 What's the Difference Between Retinol and Retinoids? Retinol is available over-the-counter and retinoids (tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene) are only available by prescription (except for 0.1% adapalene which is available over-the-counter). Retinol is weaker than retinoids and comes with less side effects. November 24, 2020