Retin-A® is used to treat acne (also called acne vulgaris) and is for use in people with oily skin. It will normally take 6 to 8 weeks for your skin to improve.

Tretinoin (Retin-A®)

  • While tretinoin and retinol are similar and can be used for similar concerns, there is a difference. Tretinoin was developed more than 25 years ago as a topical treatment for acne.
  • Tretinoin is a form of vitamin A and is available by prescription only; it’s more potent than retinol. Oily and tolerant skin types are best suited for treatment with tretinoin.



  • Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and is better suited for sensitive skin types.
  • Retinol products tend to contain moisturisers or emollients to reduce the possibility of irritation.
  • Retinol is available over the counter but in very low strengths.


How much to use:

  • Start using Retin-A® once or twice a day.
  • When your skin has improved, your doctor may suggest that you use it less often. It may take 6 to 8 weeks of treatment before your skin improves.


Preparing your skin before applying Retin-A®:

  • Wash your skin thoroughly with a mild (not medicated) soap. Dry your skin gently without rubbing.
  • Wait 20 to 30 minutes before applying the cream.
  • Do not wash treated skin more than twice a day.


How and where to use:

  • You only need to apply a small amount. Lightly cover the affected areas of your skin.
  • Use cotton wool or the tips of clean fingers.
  • Do not use any Retin-A® on cracked or weeping skin (such as eczema).
  • Do not use any Retin-A® on your eyes, eyelids, nostrils or mouth (mucous membranes).
  • If it gets into contact with any of these areas, wash them with water.


Protection from sun, cold or wind:

  • Avoid being in the sun for too long while you are using Retin-A®.
  • Do not use sun-lamps or sunbeds while you are using Retin-A®.
  • If you need to go out in the sun often:
    • use a sunscreen lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
    • while using Retin-A®, you may also get some skin irritation in very cold or windy weather.

On average, it takes anywhere from 8 to 24 weeks to see a noticeable improvement from the use of Retin-A® (tretinoin).

RETIN-A 0,05%® Cream

  • Retin-A® Cream is more moisturising than the gel and lends itself better to sensitive or mature skin as it is gentler Dermatologists can find Retin-A® Cream useful during winter months.
  • Preferred for dryer skin types.


RETIN-A 0,025%® Gel

  • Retin-A® Gel contains more alcohol than the cream and can be more drying to the skin. This is useful for more acne-prone skin.
  • Dermatologists can find Retin-A® Gel more useful during summer months.
  • Ideal for oily skin types.

Retin-A® can have side effects. If you experience any of the following, stop using Retin-A® and tell your doctor immediately or go to the casualty department at your nearest hospital straight away:

  • Severe irritation or reddening of your skin, hives, or other signs of allergy during the first few days of treatment. This only happens in a small number of people.
  • Blistering or scabby skin.
  • A burning feeling on the skin or swollen skin.
  • Your eyes become swollen or irritated.

Please report any adverse drug reactions to John Finlayson via email (john@riteaid.co.za) or telephone (082 574 5930)

Do not use Retin-A® if:


  • You are hypersensitive (allergic) to tretinoin or any of the other ingredients in Retin-A®.
  • You have ever had a tumour on the top layer of your skin, or if this condition runs in your family.
  • You have inflamed, red, dry and scaly skin (eczema), or if the skin around your mouth is irritated (peri-oral dermatitis).
  • You have a skin problem which can cause redness of the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead (acne rosacea).
  • You have sunburn or skin irritation with redness, peeling or itching. Your skin will need time to recover from this before you start using Retin-A®.
  • You have been using a skin-peeling agent (which removes the top layers of your skin). Your skin will need time to recover before you start using Retin-A®.
  • You should not use harsh (astringent) or rough (exfoliating) cosmetic products while using Retin-A®. This includes skin-peeling agents (which remove the top layers of the skin) or products that contain alcohol, spices or lime. Do not use products which have a strong drying effect on your skin (such as some face masks, cleansers or toners).
  • You should avoid getting permanent wave solutions and waxing products on skin being treated with Retin-A® as these can irritate your skin.
  • You may use ordinary make-up or moisturisers but do not apply them at the same time as Retin-A®.
  • You can still remove hair by plucking, electrolysis or hair removal creams, but if you do this before applying Retin-A® it could irritate your skin.