Clinical Review: Topical Retinoids

Sheri L. Rolewski


Dermatology Nursing. 2003;15(5) 

In This Article


With sensible patient education, the multitude of benefits that topical retinoid therapy can provide may be enjoyed. Hopefully, retinoid therapy will heighten awareness of the detrimental effects of sun exposure and motivate future generations to become "sun smart."

Topical retinoids provide a beneficial, novel way of treating a plethora of dermatologic disorders, in view of their ability to address numerous inflammatory and keratotic dermatoses. The utilization of topical retinoids is advantageous over systemic retinoids from a toxicologic perspective. Though often effective and beneficial, administration of systemic retinoids can be associated with disturbing, adverse reactions such as teratogenesis, pseudotumor cerebri, hepatotoxicity, elevated triglycerides, depression, alopecia, musculoskeletal symptoms, and altered night vision (Nurse Practitioner's Prescribing Reference [NPPR], 2003). With topical retinoids, the possibility of toxicity and side effects are minimized, while still contributing to a favorable localized efficacy (Verschoore, Bouclier, Czernielewski, & Hensby, 1993). The purpose of this article is to explore current, state of the art dermatologic practices regarding the use of topical retinoids. Topical retinoids can provide an extensive spectrum of benefits, addressing multiple dermatologic issues at once. Patient support and education are essential during retinoid therapy to ensure successful clinical outcomes (Baumann, 2003). We must empower our patients with the knowledge of risks, benefits, reasonable expectations, and the importance of becoming "sun smart."


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