Should I stay with tretinoin gel or switch to the cream?

Hello, Dr.Irwin: I have oily skin recovering from acne and my dermatologist recently prescribed me Tretinoin Gel 0.025%, in which alcohol (denatured with tert-butyl alcohol & brucine sulfate) is listed as the 4th ingredient out of 4 ingredients. I\'m a bit concern about the alcohol content because I am a bit sensitive to alcohol. I would feel a burning sensation whenever I applied anything with a large amount of alcohol to my face. With this gel, there\'s a strong alchoholic smell to it and I felt a slight stinging sensation over certain areas of my face when I\'m applying it, but not my whole face. And the sting disappears within seconds. I know Paula says alcohol can be damaging to skin and tretinoin may also cause the sting. I\'m not quite certain whether I stick with the gel or ask my dermatologist to prescribe me a cream instead. Any sort of answer would be very much appreciated! Thank you for your time.

Definately switch to the cream!!  Gels almost always have a higher alcohol content than creams.  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin, and I believe that consumers need and deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself and my trained staff.
  • My medical office in Seattle has experience treating thousands of patients.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product line.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes!