Tips for avoiding irritation from your topical retinoid

Retinoids are often used to treat blackheads (open comedones), pictured above. They are also used for wrinkle prevention and other forms of acne.
Are you on a topical retinoid for blackheads, whiteheads, other types of acne, or for wrinkle prevention? If so, this post might be helpful for you.

There are many different types of topical retinoids, e.g. tretinoin (brand names: Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Renova), tazarotene (brand names: Tazorac, Avage) or adapalene (brand name: Differin).

When you first start the medication, you can develop redness, dryness, flaking, itching or other irritation since your skin isn’t used to the medication yet. Here are some tips that can help reduce the irritation:

– Use the medication at night.
– Start with application every third or every other night. Work your way up to every night.
– Mix the medication with some face lotion to dilute it, or apply face lotion after applying the medication.
– Use a small pea-sized amount for the whole face. All you need is a thin layer.
– Creams are less drying than gels or solutions.

If these tips don’t work, let your doctor know. It may be time to change to a different formulation or medication!

What is Botox and is it right for you?

Botox is the brand name for onabotulinum toxin A (yes, it’s a mouthful!). There’s a product called Dysport (abobotulinum toxin A) which acts very similarly. And now, there’s another one on the market called Xeomin (incobotulinum toxin A).

How do these toxins work? These toxins prevent nerves from releasing a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Usually the acetylcholine is the messenger from the nerve to the muscle, telling the muscle to contract and move. Thus, these toxins are used to treat wrinkles caused by muscle movement (“dynamic rhytides”). These toxins aren’t helpful in wrinkles that are not caused by muscle movement.

Cosmetically, what are these toxins good for? Many patients opt to have treatment for forehead wrinkles, the glabellar wrinkles (the ones between your eyebrows — also called the frown lines), or crow’s feet. Botox, etc. can also be used to achieve a brow lift, reduce “bunny lines,” or to soften vertical lines and furrows around the mouth.

How long do the effects last for? Effects are not permanent and last for months before wearing off. As you get more injections, you may be able to spread out injections further apart.

Is Botox, Dysport or Xeomin right for you? It’s wise to speak to someone who performs many of these procedures (e.g. a cosmetic dermatologist) about what your goals from treatment are and whether you can fulfill that goal with these products. There are also contraindications to having these treatments performed so your provider will review that with you as well. Also remember that Botox, Dysport or Xeomin injections are out-of-pocket costs and not covered by insurance.