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Tretinoin – applied to the skin


What is tretinoin?

Tretinoin (also called Retin-A®) is a cream or gel that is applied to the skin. Retin-A® is used to treat severe acne. It is available in 0.025%, 0.05%, and 0.1% strengths.

Possible side effects of tretinoin

  • Skin warmth
  • Mild stinging or redness
  • Skin more sensitive to sun, wind, or cold
  • Changes in color of treated skin

Call the doctor right away if you have any of the following side effects:

  • Blistering or crusting skin
  • Severe redness or skin swelling

These are the most common side effects, but there may be others. Please report all side effects to the doctor or nurse.

In case of a severe side effect or reaction, call the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist at 595-3300. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), and press 0 once the call is connected.

Special instructions for tretinoin

  • Store at room temperature in a dry place.
  • Do not use more of this medicine than your doctor has instructed. It may cause red, peeling, or irritated skin.
  • Do not apply near your eyes, ears, nose, or mouth.
  • Before using this medicine, wash your skin with mild soap and warm water, and gently dry. Wait 20 to 30 minutes before putting Retin-A® on your skin to make sure your skin is completely dry. Apply a small amount to the affected areas at bedtime one (1) time a day or one (1) time every other night as your doctor directed. Wash your hands right away after you apply the medicine.
  • If you become pregnant while using Retin-A®, tell your doctor right away.
  • Retin-A® may cause your skin to be more sensitive to the sun and to the extreme cold and wind. Always use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing on the areas where you applied the medicine.
  • Do not apply Retin-A® on skin that has open wounds or rash.
  • While you are using Retin-A®, do not use other skin medicines that contain alcohol, spices, or lime. Do not use abrasive soaps or cleansers. Do not use medicated soaps, astringents, rubbing alcohol, hair removal products, or anything that might dry your skin unless your doctor tells you to do so.
  • Other medicines can make your skin more sensitive to the sun while you are using Retin-A®. These medicines include:
    • Hydrochlorothiazide
    • Tetracycline
    • Ciprofloxacin
    • Norfloxacin
    • SMX-TMP (Septra® or Bactrim®)
    • Prochlorperazine
    • Promethazine
    • Chlorpromazine
    • Methotrexate
  • Always tell the doctor if you are taking any of these medicines, or if you start taking any new medicines while you are using Retin-A®.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).