How Long Can I Use Retin A? by Deb Chaase

Q&A logoQuestion:  I  have been using Retin A for acne.  Whenever I try to stop, my skin starts to break out again.  How long is it safe to use Retin A?

Answer:  Short answer…forever.  Retin A  cream or gel is a powerful and effective medication for both acne and anti-aging, but it is also safe to use for  years.  The skin does not seem to become immune  to its activity and the benefits remain over time.  Studies have shown that patients  who stared using Retin A  for adolescent acne had fewer signs of aging in their forties. ( Yes,  its been around that long).

The Other Forms of Retin A

But this safety  profile is just for the gel or cream form of Retin A.  In the oral form  of Retin A called Isotretinoin ( aka Accutane)  there are strict  time limits.  According to  Dr Gary Goldenberg of Mount Sinai, School of Medicine,  Isotretinoin should be used  for 4-6 months for the management of severe or cystic acne.  In fact about 80% of patients are “cured” after one course of oral Retin A.  For the remaining 20%, another 4-6 months of Isotretinoin gets the job done.

What ever form of Retin A  is used, it is ESSENTIAL to use an effective sunscreen each and every day.  If you have oily or acne troubled skin, look for an oil-free mineral only sunscreen to avoid additional breakouts.  If you have dry skin  you need  a rich formulation topped with  a mineral based  powder  for extra protection. Retin A makes  your skin more  vulnerable to sun damage and you don’t want to exchange one problem for another.

Coming up, I’ve asked the experts  how  long is it safe to use  hydroquinone, steroid cream and antibiotics.   Are you using a skin care medication  and wonder how long it is safe to stay on it?  Email me  and I will get  the best doctors I know  to provide the answer.

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