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How do retinoids treat acne?

Dr. Doris Day, MD
Dermatologist (Skin Specialist)

The wonderful part about retinoids is that they affect several of the most important steps in the path to acne formation. They get to the root problem of acne by preventing microcomedo (plugged hair follicle) formation. They decrease the number of existing comedones and block pathways that lead to inflammation. Several studies have shown that there is an enhanced therapeutic benefit when topical retinoids are used along with other topical and oral treatments for acne. Irritation from retinoids is still an issue in that some people are very sensitive to these treatments; however, patient education and proper use reduce this potential side effect.

100 Questions & Answers About Acne

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100 Questions & Answers About Acne

100 Questions and Answers About Acne provides you with all the information you need to manage your complexion problems. Written by Dr. Doris J. Day, a world-class expert in the field, this clearly...

Retinoids are vitamin-A derivatives; they go by the name retinol when purchased over the counter and are available in stronger strengths by prescription (such as Retin-A, Differen, Renova) to treat acne. Retinoids exfoliate to diminish pores and blemishes, while stimulating collagen production to help skin look rejuvenated. Retinoids can be extremely irritating, so start using them only once per week and gradually work your way up to more days.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.