Accutane vs. Retin-A

Are Accutane and Retin-A the Same Thing?

Accutane (isotretinoin) and Retin-A (tretinoin) Cream and Gel are forms of vitamin A called retinoids used for the treatment and prevention of severe acne.

The brand name Accutane is discontinued in the U.S., but generic formulations are available.

A difference is Acutane is an oral drug, while Retin-A is a topical drug (applied to the skin).

What Are Possible Side Effects of Accutane?

Common side effects of Accutane include:

What Are Possible Side Effects of Retin-A?

Common side effects of Retin-A include:

  • red,
  • swollen,
  • blistered, or crusted skin;
  • burning,
  • warmth,
  • stinging,
  • tingling,
  • itching,
  • dryness,
  • peeling, or irritation where the medicine is applied; or
  • changes in skin color (darker or lighter)

What is Accutane?

Accutane (isotretinoin) is a retinoid used for the treatment and prevention of severe acne. The brand name Accutane is discontinued in the U.S., but generic formulations are available.

What is Retin-A?

Retin-A (tretinoin) Cream and Gel is a form of Vitamin A used for the topical treatment of acne vulgaris.


Acne is the result of an allergy. See Answer

What Drugs Interact With Accutane?

Accutane may interact with steroids, seizure medications, or tetracycline antibiotics

What Drugs Interact With Retin-A?

Retin-A may interact with certain antibiotics.

Retin-A may also interact with other topical medications (especially those containing sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid), diuretics (water pills), sulfa drugs, chlorpromazine, prochlorperazine, fluphenazine, promethazine, and perphenazine.

How Should Accutane Be Taken?

The recommended dose of Accutane is 0.5 to 2 mg per kg of body weight daily.

How Should Retin-A Be Taken?

Apply Retin-A to infected areas once a day. Use enough to cover the entire affected area lightly. Exposure to sunlight including sunlamps should be minimized while using Retin-A. If you have a sun burn you should avoid using Retin-A until you have completely recovered from the sun burn.


Skin Health: 15 Tips for Clear Skin See Slideshow

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FDA. Accutane Product Information.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Retin A Micro Product Information.

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