Everything You Wanted to Know About Retinoid Treatment for Skin Problems


While it’s true that there’s no magic bullet in perfecting your skin, one ingredient comes close- that’s retinol. Want to add retinol to your beauty routine? Well, this article explains everything you wanted to know about retinoid treatments for skin problems. Here you’ll learn to pick the best retinol product and use it right- so the only side effect you’ll have is younger and healthy-looking skin.

What are Retinoids?

Retinoids are topical or oral products that are chemically related to vitamin A. Eggs, milk, cheese, liver (from pork, beef, chicken, turkey, and fish) are natural food sources of retinol. There are some naturally derived retinol alternatives like chicory root, rosehip seed oil, Tara tree gum, and oligosaccharides but experts say there are no studies to prove its efficacy

Retinoids find its use in the treatment of acne, anti-aging, and hyperpigmentation. There is also a downside to using retinoids because the vitamin A derivatives cause severe irritation that many women give up using it. Reducing the contact time of retinoids on the skin can significantly help in such a situation.

How Do Retinoids Work?

Experts believe that retinoids bind themselves to specific retinoic acid receptors in your skin and activates them. The different kinds of receptors do different things when they are activated. Visualize retinoids as cell communicators that tell your skin cells to behave in the best way possible.

Retinoids help in the normalization of hyperkeratinization; They help the dead skin cells to slough off at a moderate rate so that they don’t bind together and clog your pores.

Clogged hair follicles can lead to keratosis pilaris (a condition that makes your skin look like chicken skin), and clogged oil ducts cause acne. And so, both are unwelcome skin conditions.

In simpler terms retinoids act as a natural exfoliant and quickly replaces old skin cells with much smoother skin. The most important function of retinoids is to produce collagen that keeps your skin naturally firm, and thus it replenishes your skin cells.

The collagen produced by the addition of retinol causes your skin to smooth out and reduce wrinkles. Retinol reworks the cells of your face and will help in the appearance of dark spots and pigmentation.

Retinoids Usage For Acne

If you suffer from moderate to severe forms of acne that do not go away with other treatments, a retinoid may help. Retinol is gentler on your skin than such acne treatments as retinoic acid which you can’t buy without a prescription.

Retinol is tiny enough to penetrate the outer layer of the skin. Once it reaches the lower levels, retinol begins to repair the protein elastin that lets your skin to stretch and contract. It also improves collagen that creates the normal contours of your face. These repairs make your acne scars less noticeable.

When you spread retinoids on your skin, they unclog the pores allowing other medicated creams and gels to work efficiently. They reduce acne outbreaks by unclogging pores and prevents breakouts. They may also reduce the formation of acne scars. The retinoid pills treat bacteria that cause acne, oil production, and inflammation.

It’s easy to get confused by the terminology used for vitamin A derivatives or retinoids.  Derivatives such as Tretinoin is pharmaceuticals that are available by prescription to treat acne. You can also buy over the control retinol without a prescription.

How to use: Wash your face and apply a pea-sized amount of retinoid cream over the skin once a day for 20 to 30 minutes. When you first use retinoids, you may notice peeling of skin, redness, or worsening of your acne. You can minimize this condition by using the product every other day until your body gets used to it.

Retinoids For Wrinkles

Retinoids reduce the appearance of your wrinkles, lightens the brown spots and slows down the breakdown of collagen. Retinoids do not thin your skin, they typically cause peeling and redness in the first few weeks, but in fact, they thicken your skin.

For brown spots that give skin, an uneven tone, retinoids slough them off and curb the production of melanin a darker pigment.

For the aging skin dermatologists prescribe tretinoin and retinoic acid. Tretinoin works better because it has the stronger capability of preventing the breakdown of collagen. Retinaldehyde another form of retinoid which you can get without a prescription is highly effective in rejuvenating older skin.

Tretinoin the first retinoid to be approved by FDA helps to treat your wrinkles. It is a prescription retinoid which works by enhancing the production of new collagen. It stimulates new blood vessels in your skin giving your skin a rosy appearance. Tretinoin helps fade age spots and helps prevent more serious side effects of ultraviolet radiation.

You may find that over the counter retinoids may not work well as that of tretinoin, but they contribute to improving the appearance of your sun damaged skin. Using over the counter retinoids along with products that have alpha-hydroxy acids may give you a silky-smooth skin.

How to use: Apply retinoids to your face, chest, neck, hands, and forearms at least twice a week. It’ll take you 3 to 6 months of regular use to see improvements in wrinkles. You’ll see the best results happening after 6 to 12 months of its application.

Retinoids For Psoriasis

Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic disease that often raises its ugly head.  It is a skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of your skin cells. This process causes the excess formation of skin cells on the surface of your skin. These extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are sometimes painful and itchy. The primary goal of treating psoriasis is to stop the rapid growth of skin cells. Lifestyle measures such as quitting your habit of smoking, moisturizing and managing stress may help.

Retinoids work in psoriasis by lowering the rate at which skin cells develop and renew themselves and reducing inflammation. Oral retinoids are useful for patients with stubborn or severe psoriasis. However, it may cause dry skin and other side effects.

Topical retinoids are the first treatment doctors prefer when treating with plaque psoriasis. Topical retinoids have a lower level of absorption by your body and therefore fewer side effects. Tazarotene is special among retinoids because it bonds with only the cell receptors in the epidermis that is responsible for the production of abnormal skin cells.

How to use: the gel should be thinly applied to the plaque only in circular motion. Gently start from the middle of the plaque and work outwards. Avoid contact with the surrounding healthy skin. If you feel irritation, you should reduce the amount until the initial reaction subsides. If your plaque has cleared, you need not apply the gel. The effect will be there for three months.


Retinoids For Warts

Doctors may prescribe retinoids for warts preferably when other treatments have failed. The retinoid cream works by disrupting the wart cell growth. Flat warts are benign skin growths that are caused by infection with human papillomavirus. These warts are small and flat and occur in large numbers in face and legs.

Tazorac is a retinoid medication that can treat flat warts by inhibiting the replication of HPV. Thus it regulates keratinization to allow healthy skin to grow in place of warts. Retinoids may be the best treatment for flat warts on the back of your hands.

How to use: Wash your hands and the affected area with warm water and mild soap. Avoid alcohol-based products or astringents as these commodities might be drying and increase skin irritation when combined with Tazorac.

Wait at least twenty minutes after washing before applying the medication. It will ensure your skin is thoroughly dry and will minimize irritation caused by overstimulation of your skin. Use a water-based moisturizing lotion. Then cover your warts with a thin layer of Tazorac. Gently massage into the skin. Use the recommended amount prescribed by your doctor.

Skip any forgotten doses and continue your regular application schedule. Wear sunscreen always if sun exposure is a possibility while using Tazorac.

Choosing The Best Retinoid Treatment For Anti-aging

If you are trying for the first time or have sensitive skin an over the counter retinol is a good choice. These products irritate your skin less because the retinol gets slowly converted to retinoic acid. It only takes more time to show results when compared to prescription medicines. Look for products with at least 0.1 percent retinol and packed in aluminum tubes. If you don’t notice any changes after three months, consider using a prescription-strength formula.

You’ll be surprised by changes you’ll see with an Rx formula because it will make your skin brighter, softer, smoother and more evenly toned. The reason is that retinol is 10 to 15 times as potent as its chemical cousin, OTC retinol. The commonly recommended retinoids prescribed by dermatologists to rejuvenate your skin are Renova, Avage, and Differin. Your dermatologist will determine what strength and formulation will be suitable for your skin.

Side Effects

Though retinoid treatments are effective, they are not without their risks.

The risks include

  • Skin color changes
  • Irritation and dryness
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Redness, swelling, crusting or blistering.

Basics Of Retinoid Application

Plan ahead. It takes approximately four to six months, for your skin to become used to a retinoid. Make sure for a safe window where you have no major events on the horizon. Then follow these starter steps.

Consider summer. Retinoids usually dry out your skin. So you can start your treatment during summer because there will be more humidity in the air.

Wax before application. You can schedule one last waxing appointment because dry skin is more prone to burning. Allow time for any irritation from retinoids to subside before resuming waxing.

Use only a pea-sized amount. Cleansers with alpha hydroxy acids or salicylic acids are better than granular varieties because of their unnecessary roughness. When using retinoids, avoid sensitive areas such as lips and upper eyelids. If you have a sticky feeling, then it means you’ve used too much of the retinoid. Immediately pat a tissue on your skin. Next time just half the amount.

Check for irritants. Facial products likely to react with retinoids include alcohol-based toners, scrubs, exfoliation products, astringents, makeup and medicated cleansers. So be careful when using these products along with retinoids. Watch out for any skin irritation, find out the source and avoid using that product.

Give importance to sunscreen. Every morning when you venture out, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 or higher. A topical antioxidant serum along with green tea will give you added sun protection. Retinoids slough off dead skin cells, removing skin’s natural protection against UV rays, so be vigilant about using sunscreen.

Apply retinoids while you’re going to sleep. Sunlight can destabilize the effectiveness of retinoids, so it is better to use retinoids during bedtime. Damp skin increases your skin sensitivity. So, clean your skin 20 minutes beforehand to keep dryness, redness, and flakiness to a minimum. Use a nighttime moisturizer after you apply the retinoids. If you have extra sensitive skin, use a moisturizer before the retinoid application to reduce the tenderness. Quit worrying; this won’t compromise the results.

Short contact method. If you can’t tolerate the burn, wash off the retinoid after 15 minutes. Experts call this as a short contact method. This action will significantly increase the benefits while only slightly lessening the benefits.

Go slowly. Experts suggest that you apply retinol every third day for at least the first two weeks. You can use retinoids every other day for the next two weeks and build up to daily use. For people with fair skin tone and light eyes, the process might take a bit longer, while others may be satisfied with using retinoids every other day. You must keep up your routine for life to maintain the benefits.

Some great retinol products to try

  • RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Eye Cream
  • Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum
  • Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Treatment
  • Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion Alternative
  • StriVectin-AR Advanced Retinol Day Treatment SPF 30
  • SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5
  • La Roche-Posay Redermic R Eyes
  • Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA Concentrate


Retinol steps in when your skin’s appearance is affected by signs of aging, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and the apparent loss of firmness. Research studies show us that retinol naturally turns around of how your skin appears and this makes it one of the most appealing skincare ingredients in use today. If you’re going in for retinoid treatments, be sure to take the necessary precautions and consider the possible side effects. If you’re pregnant or planning for pregnancy shortly, it’s in your best interest that you avoid using retinoids, because it may cause abnormalities in your unborn child.



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