There is a great deal of confusion about acne therapy, due to some similar-sounding names of some important medications. These are the retinoids, forms of vitamin A that are the mainstay of acne treatment. They are prescribed by most dermatologists and other physicians. First let’s see how they work, and then go on to individual medications.
What causes acne?
Acne is caused by overproduction of certain skin cells, known as keratinocytes, as well as oil, which block the oil glands, forming what is known as comedones. This blockage leads to inflammation of the pores.
How do retinoids work?
Retinoids stop the skin from overproducing oil and keratinocytes, and by calming inflammation.
Retinol and tretinoin are forms of vitamin A that are used in several acne creams and gels (as well as topical anti-wrinkle preparations). Accutane (isotretinoin) is still another form of vitamin A, used orally only. Because it is taken by mouth it can cause side effects through the body, the most serious of which is severe birth defects. This is why it is important that it not be taken by pregnant women or women who may become pregnant. Women taking isotretinoin must be tested monthly for pregnancy, and doctors who prescribe it must have a special license.
Where can I get a prescription for retinoids?
QuickMD prescribes topical forms of retinoids through telemedicine directly to your pharmacy.
The cost of tretinoin ranges from $58 to $104 for one 45 gram tube, strength .05%, but most insurances cover at least part of the cost. To find the least expensive pharmacy near you and to get a coupon click here.