Is Tretinoin a good acne treatment?

Introduction

If you have ever suffered from acne, then you will understand all of the pain and all of the trials and tribulations that come as a result of trying to find an effective solution for clearing up your breakouts. There are so many false promises, and fake miracle cure claims out there that claim to fix everything, that it can be disheartening until you find a product or solution that actually works for your skin.

If you feel like you have exhausted all of your options, vitamin supplements don’t work and you have failed to find a skin care regime that shows any signs of promise, then you may be at a stage where you are looking for a medicated alternative to give your skin the extra boost it needs to help it along its acne ridding journey.

Although medicated topicals are not a replacement in any way shape or form for a healthy diet, a healthy vitamin intake, a good skin care regime and a good sleep pattern, they do have their undeniable benefits when it comes to clearing up acne.

The focus below is on the topical, tretinoin. Read on to find out to what extent does tretinoin help to eliminate and combat acne breakouts? That is a good question with a variety of answers and factors to consider. There are advantages and disadvantages, and only you can weigh these up for your individual needs.

What Causes Acne?

AcneAcne can be caused by a number of different factors;

Genetics: Some people are prone to bad skin breakouts owing to their DNA makeup. This seems desperately unfair, but it is a fact of life. Some bodies are just made to avoid acne breakouts all together, and some bodies could not prevent them if they tried, no matter how healthy they are. With that in mind, even if you are genetically prone to breakouts, there are ways of managing them.

Hormones: Hormones, yet another thing that is hard to control. They affect each person in vastly different ways, and the effects are huge and varied. Some of those unfortunate consequences of hormone imbalances or changes are acne breakouts!

Hormone Supplements: This includes things such as the contraceptive pill, so especially considering females in this instance. They can often have a negative effect on the way the body regulates its oil production and therefore can cause acne breakouts.

Poor Diet: This point speaks for itself. A poor diet aka a diet that is high in fat, sugar and low in vitamins and antioxidants can and will lead to increased acne breakouts. Some people suffer for years without even considering their diet to be a factor, but you would be amazed at the change it could make by substituting the sugar for some salad once in a while.

Poor exercise Routine: Exercise is a great way to keep the body going in the right direction. The health benefits of a proper exercise routine, or any exercise at all, have been proven time and time again. This shouldn’t be ignored. Exercising your body really is good for lots of different parts of it, including how the skin heals and acts aka acne breakouts!

Lack of Sleep: This isn’t just referring to tiredness. This means a lack of a proper sleep routine. With a lack of an appropriate routine of sleep, the body suffers massively. All of the healing, the deep healing such as collagen reproduction and vitamin distribution happens at night while you are resting, and your brain gets to work. Without this recovery time, the body hits a cycle of not being able to reconstruct and therefore suffers massively as a consequence. Dull, lifeless skin with acne breakouts is a common occurrence in people that don’t treat their body to the downtime it needs.

Stress: Everyone knows that stress has an adverse effect on the body. What they might not realize is that stress also has a negative impact on the way your skin repairs itself and the increase in hormones that it produces, such as adrenaline, which leads to a number of different complications, including but not exclusive to, acne breakouts.

The list goes on. There are a variety of external and genetic factors that can dictate whether or not, or to what extent a person suffers with and from acne breakouts.

What kind of acne you have and what the underlying cause of the acne is will determine what type of treatment you need for it. However, unless you are seriously unlucky, a lot of skin can be improved with a change in diet and vitamin intake and adopting a healthier life routine.

What is Tretinoin?

Tretinoin is an acne treatment in topical form. It is a cream that can be prescribed (the most common way of obtaining) or bought online or over the counter. However, it is best to seek advice and guidance from your healthcare provider aka your doctor before undertaking any acne treatment other than standard over the counter products such as cleaners and moisturizes and daily washes.

It is not the strongest topical acne treatment that is available to treat breakouts. However, it is still very effective and may be more suited to people who suffer from milder breakouts than to those who suffer from intense and painful breakouts.

Why is it good for acne?

Tretinoin is a form of vitamin A. Vitamin A has numerous health benefits and combats acne in a number of different ways including stimulating collagen production, fighting free radicals and therefore pro-oxidants, and reducing inflammation. Topicals that contain vitamin A are otherwise known as ‘retinoids.’

These types of topicals focus on skin regeneration and cell renewal and often collagen production as well. It is important to clear away dead skin cells from your skin as soon as they occur so that your pores do not become unnecessarily clogged, the skin gets chance to heal efficiently, and collagen and the basal layer can continue functioning properly.

Alongside this, retinoids such as tretinoin help the skin to produce natural oils and regulate the production of said natural oils so that your skin does not produce too much and consequently make the pores become blocked. Blocked pores are the number one cause of acne breakouts. Therefore anything that helps the body to regulate its oil production and thus diminish the regularity of pores becoming blocked is a big tick in the pro column for fighting acne.

It takes time to work

So, have patience. Much like the majority of effective acne treatments, whether they are vitamin supplements, antibiotics, oral suspensions or other topicals and creams, tretinoin takes its time to get to work to its full extent and ability on your skin and acne breakouts.

Your skin has a natural cycle of repair and reproduction that is around six to eight weeks and does vary from person to person. The time that tretinoin takes to get to work is almost immediately, the time it takes for you to see the results of the tretinoin can be up to three months after beginning the initial application.

Some people may find this disheartening and may be looking for a more immediate solution to their acne problem. In which case, it may be worth searching for a combination of acne treatments to see you along until the hard stuff gets to work properly.

Using Tretinoin

Using TretinoinUsing a tretinoin topical cream is easy enough. It is applied directly to the areas that are troubling you aka the acne breakouts on your face or wherever they may be.

However, there are some handy tips and hints to make the application go smoother and work faster.

These include:

Washing your face thoroughly before application: Washing your face thoroughly should be a part of your morning routine and your night time routine regardless. However, especially when using a topical such as tretinoin, you should pay particular attention to your skincare routine. It is not entirely recommended to use other medicated acne treatments while using tretinoin unless you have been given the all clear by your doctor. You never know how the components will interact with each other, and you may end up worse off than you were at the start of the course of treatment.

However, gentle washing with soap and water and other face wipes, etc. will not cause you any problems. They will only enable you to have a clearer face in the long run. In this sense, after you have washed and dried your face, drying the skin is very important so that the topical can actually stay on the affected area, the tretinoin will have a better chance of having a more significant impact.

This is because it is being applied directly to the affected area without any barriers of dirt, grease or cosmetics. That is why it is especially important to make sure that your hands are clean before applying it. Otherwise, all that hard work that you did cleaning your face will be somewhat benign when you then reapply all the grease and dirt and germs with your dirty hands.

Not using too much: It may be the biggest temptation in the world to get your new tube of cream and drown your acne areas in it. You may think you are doing the best thing and the more, the better, the quicker, the more effective the results you will see. However, you could not be more wrong if this is your chosen method of tretinoin application.

It is very important only to apply the recommended dosage. In this sense you will hopefully avoid the nastier side effects that can sometimes come with using this topical, your skin will have a chance to breathe and not be overwhelmed, and the tretinoin can get to work slowly as it is intended to do so.

Your skin needs time to get used to any new topical that you are introducing to it so that it does not react adversely. Tretinoin is no exception to this rule!

Why is it bad for acne?

Woman using CreamTretinoin is not necessarily bad for acne. However, there can be some side effects that are not entirely desirable. Some of these include:

Severe skin irritation: Agitated skin irritation on top of skin that is already irritated is surely a big no, no. This is a major potential downside to using topical cream tretinoin. Unfortunately, there have been proven links between using tretinoin and subsequential skin peeling, intense itching, sometimes burning, and even skin that is warmer than usual.

These are all undesirable of course, and it is worth remembering that not everyone will suffer from these side effects. However, if you start using this topical and find that your skin becomes irritated in this way, it is advisable to stop and to seek out alternative treatment. There will be something out there that is more suited to your skin type.

Affected pigmentation: This can also sometimes be an issue. Tretinoin has been known to alter the pigmentation of the skin area that it is being used on aka lightening it. This will ultimately mean that you have uneven patches of skin coloring. Though you may get an effective acne treatment, your overall skin tone at the end of the treatment will be uneven. It is up to your personal choice whether that is sufficient to put you off using tretinoin as a topical acne treatment.

Conclusions

Tretinoin is a good option for people who suffer from acne and have failed to combat it with traditional, non-medicated methods.

However, it is not a lone wolf. Tretinoin, just like any other acne treatment, should be used in collaboration with other skin boosting factors. These include a healthy diet rich with vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D and zinc which can be absorbed from a number of foods or by taking vitamin supplements. Not only this but exercise, a proper sleep routine and a proper skin care routine are all other factors in the overall fight against acne.

 

 

Sheikh
Sheikh has been blogging regularly at CAA for 4 years. He spends majority of his time studying health and technology or participating in discussions about these niches (online or offline).

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