Last updated on RxList: 10/23/2020
Retin-A Side Effects Center

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

What Is Retin-A?

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

What Are Side Effects of Retin-A?

If you have sensitive skin, 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)

Dosage for Retin-A

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.

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

Retin-A may interact with other topical medications, especially those containing sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid. Tell your doctor all medications you use.

Retin-A During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Retin-A should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Caution should be exercised when Retin-A is used during 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.


Skin Health: 15 Tips for Clear Skin See Slideshow
Retin-A 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 (Tretinoin)


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


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. True contact allergy to topical tretinoin is rarely encountered. Temporary hyper- or hypopigmentation has been reported with repeated application of RETIN-A. Some individuals have been reported to have heightened susceptibility to sunlight while under treatment with RETIN-A. To date, all adverse effects of RETIN-A have been reversible upon discontinuance of therapy (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION Section).

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

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

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