What is the best topical retinoid for acne vulgaris?

Updated: Aug 28, 2020
  • Author: Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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The most commonly prescribed topical retinoids for acne vulgaris include adapalene, tazarotene, and tretinoin. These retinoids should be applied once daily to clean, dry skin, but they may need to be applied less frequently if irritation occurs. Skin irritation with peeling and redness may be associated with the early use of topical retinoids and typically resolves within the first few weeks of use. [36] The use of mild, nonirritating cleansers and noncomedogenic moisturizers may help reduce this irritation. [35] Alternate-day dosing may be used if irritation persists.

Topical retinoids thin the stratum corneum, and they have been associated with sun sensitivity. [37] Instruct patients about sun protection. Also see Sunscreens and Photoprotection.

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