Feel like you’ve tried everything to get rid of your acne? If you haven’t tried a prescription retinol yet, don’t throw in the towel yet. You may be pleasantly surprised by how effective retinoids can be as an acne remedy.
Basically, retinol is a vitamin A derivative. Vitamin A is beneficial for your skin, your vision, and your bones too. But to understand how retinoids control acne, it helps to know a bit about how pimples form in the first place. It’s a combination of factors that begin when the skin cells lining the hair follicles die and begin to slough off. Sometimes these cells get sticky, clump together, and plug up your pores, thus giving rise to pimples. Retinoids put a stop to this chain of events by bringing these cells back into balance and preventing them from sticking together. The cells are then free to slough off normally. In short, retinoids keep your pores open.
Retinoids also have anti-aging properties, another bonus for adult acne sufferers. The vitamin A derivative increases the amount of collagen in your skin, a protein that keeps your skin youthful and elastic. You may notice your skin looks more smooth and vibrant after using retinoids for a while.
Unfortunately, retinoids also have negative side effects. They can dry and irritate your skin at first, and may even worsen acne for a short time. To avoid stressing out your skin, you should begin by applying a topical retinoid no more than once a week, and gradually increase the number of applications each week. In most cases the skin will get acclimated to the retinol cream and won’t be irritated by it. Applying moisturizer can also offset the drying effects. Retinoids can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so applying a sunscreen is a must.
There are several different types of retinoids, including Differen, Retin-A, and Tazorac. Although most are applied topically as a cream or ointment, there is a retinol that can be taken orally. Isotretinoin (more commonly known as Accutate) is the most effective retinoid treatment of all. In fact, for many patients it stops acne indefinitely. However, Accutane is infamous for its side effects. It can cause birth defects if women take this medication while pregnant. It can also dry out your lips and nose, and cause nosebleeds. In rare cases, it has been linked with joint soreness, liver complications, and suicidal thoughts. For these reasons, it’s wise to work closely with a physician when taking an oral retinoid such as Accutane.
If you’ve been struggling with acne and feel like you’ve tried everything, a retinol may be just what you need. Retinoids are especially effective when combined with other acne treatments, such as a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment. Ask your dermatologist if retinoids are right for you.