Retin A questions are the top category in my mail box. This medication is strong, effective, but success lies with so many details that are not discussed when its first prescribed. This is not the first time I received this one-dab- fits- all question, so it definately needs an answer.
Question: I am 35, African American and I am using Retin A for both acne and area of discoloration. The directions say to use a single pea size dab for the whole face. Wouldn’t it be smarter to put it just on the areas that need help?
Answer: That little nightly dab of Retin A hardly seems enough for a whole face, but its all the skin needs… and can handle. Retin A is powerful and even that small amount can cause dryness and irritation, especially if used in just a few spots.
Spread out over the entire face also helps control acne and hyperpigmentation in all facial areas. Keep in mind that what you see on the surface is just an indications of problems that lie below. Did you ever notice that problems keep occuring in the same area? Treat one spot and a short time later there is another problem right next door. This is because the inflammatory processes are going on below the visible skin and treating just isolated surface areas will not stop new problems.
Retin A and Women of Color- Special Concerns
Retin A formulations can be very effective for darker skin tones, but need to be used with extra care. They can be helpful for both acne and hyperpigmentation, but they can be irritating– and irritation can trigger new dark spots and splotches. To avoid new problems start using Retin A twice a week for two weeks. If the skin does not feel dry and raw, gradually work up to using Retin A 4-5x a week. Stop using it immediately if the skin begins to feel uncomfortable. Use mild cleansers and most dermatologists recommend against using rough wash cloths, scrubbing grains and exfoliating brushes at least the first six months you are using Retin A. And every morning don’t forget to apply at least a 30SPF oil-free sunscreen, even on cloudy days.