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Acne FAQ

What is acne?

Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States.(1) Acne can appear as blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules.(1) Acne develops when pores in our skin become clogged.(1)

How does tretinoin work?

Tretinoin is a natural type of retinoid, which is substance derived from vitamin A. Retinoids work by unclogging pores and preventing whiteheads and blackheads from forming.(2)

How should tretinoin be used?

First and foremost, it is very important to follow the instructions your physician gave you. You should receive instructions with your prescription that detail specifically when and where to apply, how much to use for each application, and the length of therapy. You should be sure that these instructions are clear and that you or your caregiver will be able to follow them. Please alert your physician if you have any questions or if you feel you are unable to complete the therapy as prescribed.

The product should be applied once a day, at bedtime, to the skin where acne lesions appear, using enough to cover the entire affected area lightly. During the early weeks of therapy, an apparent exacerbation of inflammatory lesions may occur. This is due to the action of the medication on deep, previously unseen lesions and should not be considered a reason to discontinue therapy. Therapeutic results should be noticed after two to three weeks, but more than six weeks may be required for some patients. Be sure to closely follow the directions given to you by your physician.

Tretinoin can irritate the skin and increase sun sensitivity, so it is important to use sunscreen and wear hats, and follow your dermatologist’s directions.

To locate a dermatologist in your area, click here.

Please see full Prescribing Information for Tretinoin Gel, USP 0.05%Tretinoin Gel, USP (Microsphere) 0.04% and 0.1%, and Tretinoin Cream, 0.025%, 0.05%, 0.1% and Gel, 0.01%, 0.025% for further information.


  1. American Academy of Dermatology. Acne. Accessed August 19, 2019, at—d/acne.

  2. WebMD.Retinoid Treatment and Your Skin. Accessed August 19, 2019 at

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