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Tretinoin (On the skin)

Tretinoin (TRET-i-noin)

Treats acne and other skin conditions. Renova® may reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles and rough skin.

Brand Name(s):

Atralin, Avita, Refissa, Renova, Retin A Micro, Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Tretin X, Tretin-X

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to tretinoin.

How to Use This Medicine:

Cream, Gel/Jelly, Liquid

  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to apply and how often. Do not use more medicine or apply it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • This medicine is for use on the skin only. Do not get it in your eyes, mouth, nose, or the creases alongside your nose. Do not use on skin areas that have cuts or scrapes. If it does get on these areas, rinse it off right away. Do not use this medicine if you have a sunburn, eczema, or other skin problems.
  • Wash your skin with mild soap and warm water and gently pat it dry. Allow your skin to dry for 20 to 30 minutes before applying this medicine.
  • Do not wash your face or put on make-up for at least 1 hour after applying this medicine. You may need to apply a skin moisturizer in the morning.
  • You may need to use this medicine for several weeks or months before your skin starts to look better. Applying extra medicine will not make it work faster.
  • For the cream or gel, apply a thin layer to the affected skin area. Rub it in gently. The medicine should become invisible right away. After about a minute, if you can still see the medicine or if the medicine dries and flakes off, then you are using too much.
  • Apply the liquid using your fingertip, a gauze pad, or a cotton swab. Carefully pour out the liquid. Avoid getting it on other skin areas.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, apply it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to apply the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not apply extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the medicine at room temperature in a closed container, away from heat, fire, and direct light. Do not freeze. Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using medicines that may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, such as diuretics or "water pills" (such as furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, Hyzaar®), an antibiotic (such as Cipro®, tetracycline), a sulfa drug, or phenothiazines (such as Compazine®, Phenergan®, Serentil®, Thorazine®).
  • Do not use any other medicines or acne treatments on the treated skin areas without asking your doctor. Avoid using any skin care products that can dry or irritate your skin. These include rough skin cleansers or products that contain alcohol, spices, or lime.
  • Do not use lotion, wax, electrolysis, or laser treatment to remove hair on any treated skin areas. Avoid medicated shampoo (such as dandruff shampoo) and chemical hair treatments (such as perms or dye).

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have eczema or other skin problems.
  • Do not use this medicine for a skin problem that has not been checked by your doctor.
  • This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, wind, and cold weather. Use a sunscreen when you are outdoors. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds. You may need to wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and a hat.
  • The gel form of this medicine is flammable. Do not smoke while you are using this medicine. Always keep the medicine away from fire, flames, or high heat.
  • You may feel minor warmth, stinging, or burning briefly while applying this medicine.
  • During the first 3 to 6 weeks of using this medicine, your acne may seem to get worse. This means the medicine is working, and it is important that you keep using it.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Severe or ongoing skin redness, peeling, itching, blistering, crusting, or swelling

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Changes in the color of your skin that has been treated with the medicine
  • Mild skin dryness, itching, peeling, or redness
  • Skin warmth, stinging, or burning that continues or gets worse

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088


Last Updated: 10/4/2014


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