Retin-A Micro

Last updated on RxList: 3/4/2021
Retin-A Micro Side Effects Center

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

What Is Retin-A Micro?

Retin-A Micro (tretinoin) is a topical acne agent used for treating acne vulgaris, smoothening of fine wrinkles, and fading hyper-pigmentation of aged skin.

What Are Side Effects of Retin-A Micro?

Common side effects of Retin-A Micro are:

  • a brief sensation of warmth or stinging immediately after applying,
  • peeling,
  • excessive dry skin,
  • burning,
  • warmth,
  • stinging,
  • redness,
  • tingling,
  • swelling,
  • irritation,
  • discolored skin,
  • itching,
  • scaling, or
  • worsening of acne, especially during the first 2-4 weeks of using Retin-A Micro.

Photosensitivity also occurs and sunlight exposure should be minimized while using Retin-A Micro.

Dosage for Retin-A Micro

Apply small (pea-sized) amount of Retin-A Micro to affected areas nightly after washing skin. Avoid applying to lips, mucous membranes, and close to eyes.

What Drugs, Substances, or Supplements Interact with Retin-A Micro?

Retin-A Micro may interact with skin products that contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid; diuretics (water pills), antibiotics, sulfa drugs, and phenothiazines. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use.

Retin-A Micro During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Before taking Retin-A Micro, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. It is unknown if Retin-A Micro topical is harmful to a fetus. Retin-A Micro can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Additional Information

Our Retin-A (tretinoin) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


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Retin-A Micro Consumer Information

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Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe burning, stinging, or irritation of treated skin;
  • severe skin dryness; or
  • severe redness, swelling, blistering, peeling, or crusting.

Your skin may be more sensitive to weather extremes such as cold and wind while using this medicine.

Common side effects may include:

  • skin pain, redness, burning, itching, or irritation;
  • sore throat;
  • mild warmth or stinging where the medicine was applied; or
  • changes in color of treated skin.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Retin-A Micro (Tretinoin Gel)


Acne is the result of an allergy. See Answer
Retin-A Micro Professional Information


Irritation Potential

Acne clinical trial results: In separate clinical trials for each concentration, acne patients treated with Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere 0.1% or 0.04%, analysis over the twelve week period showed that cutaneous irritation scores for erythema, peeling, dryness, burning/stinging, or itching peaked during the initial two weeks of therapy, decreasing thereafter.

Approximately half of the patients treated with Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) , 0.04% had cutaneous irritation at Week 2. Of those patients who did experience cutaneous side effects, most had signs or symptoms that were mild in severity (severity was ranked on a 4-point ordinal scale: 0=none, 1=mild, 2=moderate, and 3=severe). Less than 10% of patients experienced moderate cutaneous irritation and there was no severe irritation at Week 2. In studies on Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere, 0.04%, throughout the treatment period the majority of patients experienced some degree of irritation (mild, moderate, or severe) with 1% (2/225) of patients having scores indicative of a severe irritation rating; and 1.3% (3/225) of patients treated with Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere, 0.04%, discontinued treatment due to irritation, which included dryness in one patient and peeling and urticaria in another.

In studies on Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere, 0.1%, no more than 3% of patients had cutaneous irritation scores indicative of severe irritation rating; although, 6% (14/224) of patients treated with Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere, 0.1% discontinued treatment due to irritation. Of these 14 patients, four have severe irritation after 3 to 5 days of treatment, with blistering in one patient.

Results in studies of subjects without acne

In a half-face comparison trial conducted for up to 14 days in women with sensitive skin, but without acne, Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere, 0.1% was statistically less irritating than tretinoin cream, 0.1%. In addition, a cumulative 21 day irritation evaluation in subjects with normal skin showed that RetinA Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere, 0.1%, had a lower irritation profile than tretinoin cream, 0.1%. The clinical significance of these irritation studies for patients with acne is not established. Comparable effectiveness of Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere, 0.1% and tretinoin cream, 0.1%, has not been established. The lower irritancy of Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere, 0.1% in subjects without acne may be attributable to the properties of its vehicle. The contribution of decreased irritancy by the MICROSPONGE System has not been established. No irritation studies have been performed to compare Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere, 0.04%, with either Retin-A Micro (tretinoin gel) microsphere, 0.1%, or tretinoin cream, 0.1%.

The skin of certain sensitive individuals may become excessively red, edematous, blistered, or crusted. If these effects occur, the medication should either be discontinued until the integrity of the skin is restored, or the medication should be adjusted to a level the patient can tolerate. However, efficacy has not been established for lower dosing frequencies (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION Section).

True contact allergy to topical tretinoin is rarely encountered. Temporary hyper- or hypopigmentation has been reported with repeated application of tretinoin. Some individuals have been reported to have heightened susceptibility to sunlight while under treatment with tretinoin.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Retin-A Micro (Tretinoin Gel)

© Retin-A Micro Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Retin-A Micro Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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