How Quickly Does Tretinoin Work? The Skin Centre

How Quickly Does Tretinoin Work?

What is Tretinoin?

Tretinoin belongs to a group of drugs called retinoids, which means they are Vitamin A derivatives. Tretinoin is a topical (applied to the skin) form of Vitamin A that helps the skin renew itself and was first licensed for the treatment of acne. However, over the years, the anti-wrinkle effects of tretinoin have been explored further due to its proven anti-ageing properties in scientific research studies.

How quickly does Tretinoin work?

Tretinoin users have reported that the anti-ageing effects of Tretinoin usually take around three to six months to show. In the long-term, consistent use of Tretinoin will pay off when it comes to reducing the signs of ageing. In terms of acne, it could take up to eight to twelve weeks to notice results – and your acne may appear worse during the first few weeks of using Tretinoin.

There are numerous studies that looked at both short and long-term application of Tretinoin and their secondary effects. In one study, the treatment was applied for a time period of one to four months. Within this period of time skin changes were noted and included improvement in fine/coarse wrinkles and the tretinoin-treated group were reported as having ‘a rosy glow’ that was not noted in the control (non-treated) group. One critique of these studies is that patients were not under long-term follow-up. However, improvements were noted within a few months.

There have also been a number of longer-term studies where patients were treated for six months with different strengths of Tretinoin. These studies overall included many more patients and the studies showed significant improvement in photo ageing effects of the skin. Further studies have also demonstrated longer-lasting effects of Tretinoin on the skin even after it has been discontinued.

How to apply Tretinoin

Before applying Tretinoin, wash your skin with a mild soap or cleanser along with warm water using the tips of your fingers. It’s important that you remember not to scrub your face with a sponge or washcloth. Wait 20 to 30 minutes before applying this medicine to make sure the skin is dry – and remember not to apply Tretinoin to wet skin as it can irritate the skin. Remember to wash your hands after application!

Key points to remember

-When you start using Tretinoin, remember to apply a sunscreen during the day – lack of sun protection can lead to burned skin.

-As mentioned above, clean, dry skin is key when it comes to applying Tretinoin. Water on your face will stop it from absorbing properly.

-Start with a low dose – Tretinoin comes in a range of doses, it’s best to start at the lowest – 0.025. Building tolerance will help to create better results.

Tretinoin is a highly effective option for those looking for a long-term solution to the signs of ageing. For more information about how quickly Tretinoin works, contact one of our expert dermatologists.

References: Mukherjee S, Date A, Patravale et al. Retinoids in the treatment of skin ageing: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clin Interv Aging. 2006 Dec;1(4):327-348.

Dr Noha Elshimy
Dr Noha Elshimy
Dr Noha Elshimy graduated from the University of Birmingham with honours and two distinctions. She is currently undergoing her specialisation in dermatology in the UK. Through her training, she wholly appreciates both the physical and psychological impact that dermatological conditions can have on patients. She has a passion for teaching others and has been regularly involved with teaching medical students from the local university.
Originally published July 12 2018, updated August 02 2018

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