Topical retinoids are the "in thing" today. These drugs have become popular both in dermatology and cosmetic medicine. The range of disorders for which topical retinoids are used include:
- fine lines
- Oily skin
- Actininic keratosis (precancerous skin lesion)
- Flat warts
- Skin discoloration
- Solar keratosis
Topical retinoids require a prescription from a physician. Topical retinoids can be applied to any area but are most often used on the face, the neck and the back of hands.
Buying the drug over the internet and using it without any prior knowledge only leads to development of side effects and complications
Over the years, various formulations of the topical retinoids have been devised. Those containing moisturizing agents are most useful for individuals with dry skin. Retinoids are generally safe when applied with a physicians' instruction, but the drugs do have the potential to cause serious harm when abused.
In the cosmetic industry, lighter strength of retinoids are now available in various facial creams and lotions. The major problem with the use of topical retinoids is the skin side effects which include:
- skin peeling
- sun sensitivity
The most commonly available topical retinoids include:
- Retinol is commonly added in low concentration to cosmetic products
- Tretinoin is widely used to treat wrinkles, sun damaged skin and acne
- Isotretinoin is used as Tretinoin
- Adapalene is used for the treatment of acne
The safest way to start using a topical retinoid is to apply it as a thin film every alternate day. If you develop sensitivity immediately, wash the cream after 1 hr. If the skin irritation is moderate, apply the retinoid less often and wait till the skin adjusts and the irritation lessens.
One should never get the retinoid inside the mouth or eyes.
Apply a sunscreen daily and more frequently if you plan to go out in the sun.
In some cases, the skin peeling may be excessive and the itch may be unbearable. In such cases, you may no longer be a candidate for topical retinoids