Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) has been around for more than ten years, having been given clearance for distribution and sale by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 1997. But Retin-A Micro's precursor, Retin-A, has been available since 1972. These prescription topicals are routinely dispensed by dermatologists to treat acne when over-the-counter products fail to deliver. So what's the difference between them, and what benefits does Retin-A Micro have to offer?
Tretinoin is one drug in the family of retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A. The American Academy of Dermatology describes retinoids -- such as tretinoin found in Retin-A and Retin-A Micro -- as a "cornerstone in acne treatment." Tretinoin fights acne by reducing clogged pores over a regular period of use and then keeping them clear. According to the AAD, older tretinoins like Retin-A were very harsh, but newer generation of tretinoins such as Retin-A Micro cause less itching, burning, redness, and flaking.
Retin-A Micro Advantages
Retin-A Micro is made in two formulations that inlcude either 0.1% or 0.04% tretinoin -- your dermatologist will determine which strength is appropriate for your needs. But Retin-A Micro also has a "microsponge" system made of patented methyl methacrylate/glycol dimethacrylate crosspolymer porous microspheres that allow tretinoin to be delivered in a gel, rather than cream. According to the official website, Retin-A Micro's microsphere technology results in less skin irritation and reduces the appearance of a shiny face.
How to Use Retin-A Micro
Retin-A Micro should be applied to skin that's been washed with a mild, non-medicated cleanser once every evening or according to your dermatologist's instructions. You don't need a lot of Retin-A Micro for it to be effective -- only an amount the size of a pea. Dot your forehead, cheeks and chin with Retin-A Micro and spread it into the rest of your skin with your fingertips.
In clinical trials prior to this drug's FDA approval, patients who used it to treat acne over a 12-week period noted peeling, dryness, burning, and itching during the first two weeks of treatment that eventually resolved. Some people may note improvement in acne as soon as two weeks, but it takes at least seven weeks to experience the full benefits of Retin-A Micro.
Those who use Retin-A Micro are cautioned to stay out of the sun (including tanning beds) and wear a sunscreen with a SPF rating of 15 or higher, as the skin is more prone to sunburn while using this topical. Avoid other things that will irritate your skin, such as cold weather, wind and skin care products that contain astringents, alcohol and lime peel, including medicated soaps. Using harsh skin care products with Retin-A Micro can cause your skin to become excessively dry, red or crusted.