Why am I irritated with Refissa/tretinoin and what can I do?

Hi Dr. I, Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to answer all of our questions. I am a 44y/o vietnamese female and have been using Refissa for the past 4 months. I try to use it twice a week, a pea size amount, but it causes more and more irritation each time. I tried to cut the strength by using a moisturizer ahead of time, but it does not help at all. Does using Renova 0.02% cream better and does it help with blotchy sun spots?

There are so many Retin A type products out that it’s confusing isn’t it?  All these products have the same active ingredient – tretinoin.  Tretinoin is prescription and comes in many forms – gels, lotions, and creams – like Refissa (the newest one), Renova, Retin A Micro, Avita, the generics, and then it has cousins like Tazorac.  It also comes in many strengths from 0.02% to 1.0%.  And,  all the bases for these different tretinoins contain many different ingredients themselves.

You’ve given the Refissa a good try and it’s still not working.  You are probably sensitive to either the tretinoin itself or something in the base.  I would recommend stopping it for 3-4 weeks and letting your skin get back to normal.  At that point, you could try one of the other forms cautiously.  Renova is the most gentle generally.    Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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