What is/are Tretinoin?
Tretinoin is the carboxylic acid form of vitamin A and is also known as all-trans retinoic acid or ATRA. It is a first generation topical retinoid commonly used to treat acne vulgaris and keratosis pilaris. It is available as a cream or gel (brand names Aberela, Airol, Renova, Atralin, Retin-A, Avita, Retacnyl, Refissa, ReTrieve, or Stieva-A). The most common strengths are 0.025%, 0.05% and 0.1%. It is also used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), and is sold for this indication by Roche under the brand name Vesanoid. It is also available as a generic.
Tretinoin is most commonly used as a form of acne treatment. It was the first retinoid developed for this type of topical use. Tretinoin is the best studied retinoid in the treatment of photoaging. It is used by some as a hair loss treatment and is a component of many commercial products that are advertised as being able to slow skin aging or remove wrinkles. Topical tretinoin is also used to treat and reduce the appearance of stretch marks by increasing collagen production in the dermis.
Tretinoin, marketed as Vesanoid, is used to treat at least one form of cancer (acute promyelocytic leukemia, also called acute myeloid leukemia subtype M3), usually together with other drugs, by causing the immature promyelocytes to differentiate (i.e. mature). The pathology of the leukemia is due to the highly proliferative immature cells; retinoic acid drives these cells to develop into functional cells, which helps to alleviate the disease. It is usually prescribed for 15 days every three months at about 8–10 10-mg capsules per day.
In dermatological use
When used, dryness or increased sensitivity to sunlight of the affected skin may occur. More sensitive patients may also experience redness, scaling, itching, and burning. A gradual increase in the frequency and amount of tretinoin application is best, as this allows one's skin to adequately adjust to the drug. Patients should be careful to follow their physician's recommendations when beginning a round of treatment.
This product increases the risk of sunburn; care should be taken (shade, sunscreen, etc.) to protect treated skin from overexposure to ultraviolet light.
Because usage of tretinoin may cause thinning of the skin, it is strongly recommended that patients who are using the drug abstain from hair removal waxing. The wax will, when removed, pull off the top level of epithelium (skin) with it, leaving a red, inflamed, sore mark for several days. Tweezing or threading (epilation) is a viable option for hair removal. The recommended timeframe to wait for a waxing treatment after using tretinoin varies from source to source; anywhere from five days to three months have been reported. Patients should consult with their esthetician and dermatologist to discuss the best hair removal options during or after tretinoin use.
In leukemia use
There is a unique complication of retinoic acid syndrome in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia. This is associated with the development of dyspnea, fever, weight gain, peripheral edema and is treated with dexamethasone. The etiology of retinoic acid syndrome has been attributed to capillary leak syndrome from cytokine release from the differentiating promyelocytes.
It is a teratogen, and therefore can cause birth defects and tests have shown increases in fetal skull abnormalities in rats. Women who are or may be pregnant, or who are seeking to become pregnant, are therefore warned against using it. This teratogenic effect is caused by the interference of the exogenous retinoic acid with endogenous retinoic acid signaling, which plays a role in patterning the developing embryo. However the risks of topical tretinoin to the fetus seems to be limited.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Tretinoin, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.