Which medications in the drug class Retinoid-like Agents are used in the treatment of Acne Vulgaris?

Updated: Oct 23, 2019
  • Author: Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

Retinoid-like Agents

These agents stimulate cellular retinoid receptors and help normalize keratinocyte differentiation and are comedolytic. In addition, they have anti-inflammatory properties. Oral isotretinoin also reduces sebum production in the skin. Retinoids are classified into 3 generations. The first comprises topical tretinoin and systemic isotretinoin. Acitretin is a second-generation retinoid used to treat psoriasis. The third-generation retinoids include topical adapalene tazarotene.

Topical tretinoin (Retin-A Micro, Atralin, Avita, Tretin-X, Renova)

Topical tretinoin inhibits microcomedo formation. It decreases cohesiveness of keratinocytes in sebaceous follicles, which allows for easy removal. It has anti-inflammatory properties. Topical tretinoin is available as a cream or gel.

Adapalene (Differin)

Adapalene inhibits microcomedo formation. It decreases cohesiveness of keratinocytes in sebaceous follicles, which allows for easy removal. It has anti-inflammatory properties. Adapalene is available as a cream, lotion, or gel.

Tazarotene (Tazorac, Fabior, Avage)

Tazarotene inhibits microcomedo formation. It decreases cohesiveness of keratinocytes in sebaceous follicles, which allows for easy removal. It has anti-inflammatory and immunological properties. Tazarotene is available as a cream or gel.

Trifarotene (Aklief)

Trifarotene is an agonist of retinoic acid receptors (RARs), with particular activity at the gamma subtype of RAR. The stimulation of the RAR results in modulation of target genes that are associated with various processes, including cell differentiation and mediation of inflammation. The exact process by which trifarotene ameliorates acne is unknown. It is indicated for acne vulgaris for patients aged 9 years and older. Trifarotene is available as cream.

Isotretinoin (Claravis, Amnesteem, Absorica, Zenatane)

Isotretinoin is an oral retinoid indicated for recalcitrant, nodulocystic acne. It addresses all four pathogenic factors involved in the development of acne: follicular hyperkeratinization, inflammation, sebum production, and Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) growth. Treatment is weight-based, usually dosed initially 0.5 mg/kg and increased to 1 mg/kg in 2 divided doses for 15-20 weeks. Once-daily dosing is not recommended. The dose may be adjusted to administer up to 2 mg/kg/day. The patients must be registered into the government-regulated iPledge program in order to receive the medication.


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