Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Application: Avoid contact with the eyes, eyelids, angles of the nose, mouth, easily irritated areas, or other areas where treatment is not intended. Tretinoin should not be applied to severely inflamed skin or to open lesions. Avoid applying more of this medication than is recommended or applying it more often than recommended by your doctor. This will irritate your skin and will not cause the acne to clear up any faster.
Skin care: You may use cosmetics, but be sure to thoroughly cleanse the areas to be treated before applying the medication. Oil-based cosmetics should be avoided. Instead, use oil-free, water-based products. If your doctor prescribes an additional acne treatment, it should be applied at a different time of day than tretinoin.
Try to avoid products applied to the skin that have high concentrations of alcohol, spices, or lime as they cause stinging and burning on treated skin. If possible, avoid simultaneous use of harsh abrasives and other skin treatments, including sun lamps.
Hair removal is permitted as usual (e.g., plucking, electrolysis, depilatories) but avoid these procedures at night before applying tretinoin as they may result in skin irritation.
Permanent wave solutions, waxing preparations, and medicated soaps and shampoos can sometimes even irritate skin that is not being treated with this medication. Use caution so that these products do not come into contact with skin treated with tretinoin.
Skin irritation: Some people may experience temporary skin irritation, especially in the early weeks of treatment. If excessive reactions occur, and the skin becomes extremely red, swollen, and crusted, stop taking the medication and contact your doctor.
An apparent worsening may develop due to the medication's effect on existing deep lesions. This is a normal part of the treatment effect and will clear up with continued treatment.
Your skin may be more sensitive to exposure to wind and cold while you are using this medication.
Sunlight exposure: Exposure to sunlight, including ultraviolet sunlamps, may cause more irritation. Therefore, avoid or minimize this type of exposure while you are using tretinoin. If you cannot avoid exposure to sunlight, use sunscreen products (minimum SPF 15) and wear protective clothing over treated areas. Do not apply this medication to skin that has a sunburn until the skin has fully recovered.
Pregnancy: This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Women who may become pregnant should use an effective method of birth control while they are using this medication. If you become pregnant while using this medication, stop using it immediately and contact your doctor.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if tretinoin passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are using this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children less than 12 years of age. Topical tretinoin is not recommended for this age group.