Question: I have been using Retin A for acne. Whenever I try to stop, my skin starts to break out again. How long is it safe to use Retin A?
Answer: Short answer…forever. Retin A cream or gel is a powerful and effective medication for both acne and anti-aging, but it is also safe to use for years. The skin does not seem to become immune to its activity and the benefits remain over time. Studies have shown that patients who stared using Retin A for adolescent acne had fewer signs of aging in their forties. ( Yes, its been around that long).
The Other Forms of Retin A
But this safety profile is just for the gel or cream form of Retin A. In the oral form of Retin A called Isotretinoin ( aka Accutane) there are strict time limits. According to Dr Gary Goldenberg of Mount Sinai, School of Medicine, Isotretinoin should be used for 4-6 months for the management of severe or cystic acne. In fact about 80% of patients are “cured” after one course of oral Retin A. For the remaining 20%, another 4-6 months of Isotretinoin gets the job done.
What ever form of Retin A is used, it is ESSENTIAL to use an effective sunscreen each and every day. If you have oily or acne troubled skin, look for an oil-free mineral only sunscreen to avoid additional breakouts. If you have dry skin you need a rich formulation topped with a mineral based powder for extra protection. Retin A makes your skin more vulnerable to sun damage and you don’t want to exchange one problem for another.