Since it has an over 50-year history for the treatment of various skin ailments, we have a pretty extensive array of testing done on this little dermatology powerhouse.
Some of the most common questions that have been attempted to be answered with these studies are — just how long should you use Tretinoin for? And, is it better to use this as a short term medication, or to keep using it for years? Or, do the benefits just keep on going if you keep on using Tretinoin?
Read on to see what the studies suggest about continued Tretinoin use, and what you could expect from using this medication long term.
Studies Show That Tretinoin Can Be Safely Used Long Term
A study from 2005 enrolled 204 participants to apply either Tretinoin 0.05% or a placebo cream every day for two years. The patients were followed up with periodically, and after 2 years their skin was examined to see any benefits as well as if long term use was safe. The Tretinoin group had significant improvements in fine lines & wrinkles, dark spots, visible blood vessels, and sallowness as compared to the placebo group. The Tretinoin group also had their skin analyzed for any damages from the treatment, but there were no more abnormal skin cells changes, dermal elastosis, or any other signs of skin damage as compared to the placebo group. The amount of collagen synthesis was also found to be higher in the Tretinoin group, which can help maintain a more youthful skin appearance.
An even longer study from 1996, looked at the use of Tretinoin over a 4 year period to see if the skin continued improving over this period of time, and if there were any unwanted skin changes from long-term treatment. The researchers found that the skin benefits continued clinical improvement over the whole course of the trial, and there were no abnormal skin changes due to the treatment.
Another study looked into if long term use of Tretinoin could mean that the medication is getting distributed systemically (throughout the whole body). They reported that there was no detectable levels of Tretinoin, or its metabolites in the blood plasma of those using Tretinoin regularly, suggesting that the medication has limitations in going deeper than skin level. As far as treatment goes, this is a good thing, since it is the skin that we want to treat, not the whole body.
Skin Improvements May Continue As You Continue Tretinoin Usage
These studies suggest that long term use of Tretinoin is not only safe, but that the skin improvements may continue for years after starting use of the medication. This is why some doctors recommend the continued use of Tretinoin products indefinitely, to continue reaping the benefits of fewer blemishes, fine lines and wrinkles, and an overall healthier and more youthful appearance. Always listen to your doctor to see how long you should use a product for, and do not extend your current course of treatment without talking with your doctor first.
It May Take 3-6 Months To Begin Seeing Results From Tretinoin
Now that we know that Tretinoin has been found to be safe to use long term, it is important to note that it does take a little time to get everything going.
For most people, the beneficial effects of Tretinoin can start to be seen after using the product for 3-6 months — so patience is key with this medication. However, once the benefits begin, they should continue for as long as you continue using Tretinoin.
Summary of Is Tretinoin Safe For Long Term Use
Don’t Be Scared Away By The Initial Adjustment Period. Tretinoin is a pretty great dermatology tool for acne, scars, fine lines, and a more youthful appearance. But, there is an initial adjustment period that comes along with all of this skin goodness.
For the first weeks to months of treatment, it is common for skin to adjust to the retinoid. This adjustment can manifest as redness, dryness, peeling, irritation, or more pimples being purged out for a period of time.
Start with a lower strength Tretinoin, skip a few nights between applications at first, and use plenty of gentle moisturizers on your face 20 minutes after application to help this transition go as smoothly as possible. If your skin is extremely irritated, painful, or crusting, you may want to speak with your doctor and pause Tretinoin treatment for a while.
However, stick with your Tretinoin treatment through these potential first few rough weeks, and the benefits should start shortly after. Redness, irritation, sun sensitivity, and dryness should all lessen over the course of treatment, and they should not return during the course of treatment with the same strength Tretinoin. Basically, try to power through this adjustment period, and you will be rewarded with better skin long term.
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