The Skinny on Retin-A
Sana Fela does not use Retin A in any of our products, as it has many undesirable properties.

What is Retin-A?

Retin-A is a formulation that contains between 0.04% and 0.1% of tretinoin. This is a medication from the family of retinoic acid. It is a metabolite of Vitamin A and can be used either topically or systemically and have been shown to cause a decrease in sebum production.

Tretinoin (Retin-A)

Sebum is the oil produced by cells in the sebaceous glands. Over-production of this oil, followed by infection with bacteria, can cause the hair follicles to swell and become infected, resulting in acne (see “The Skinny on Acne” for more information).
How Does It Work?

Retin-A impacts the number of cells that produce sebum (oil) in the sebaceous glands by increasing the turnover and detachment of these cells so they get sloughed off quicker and get extruded from the hair follicle before they can cause the hair follicle to become plugged and cause acne. In two clinical studies, 12 week treatments with 0.1% Retin-A resulted in reductions of lesion counts of 32% to 45% (1).
Drug Interactions

Patients using Retin-A must be careful with the use of other topical medications, medicated or abrasive soaps, scrubs and cleansers, products that have drying effects such as alcohol. Particular caution should be exercised when using Retin-A together with other topical over-the-counter acne preparations that contain sulphur, benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Avoid contact with the peel of limes. Since Retin-A is derived from vitamin A, patients should be careful not to use multivitamins vitamins that contain high doses of vitamin A.
What Are The Side Effects?

Retin-A is known to have many side effects and some of them can be severe. The product insert for Retin-A (1) contains a long list of side effects:

  • Dryness, redness, peeling, flaking, itching, swelling and blistering and general skin irritation; especially during the first several weeks of use.
  • Photosensitivity and an increased sensitivity to sunburn and sun damage.
  • Weather extremes such as wind or cold can be irritating to patients that use Retin-A
  • Can cause severe irritation on eczematous skin

Apart from these skin-related side-effects Tretinoin (Retin-A) can also cause:

  • Birth defects in pregnant rats. It is strongly advised for women of childbearing age to use contraceptives when using Retin-A.
  • Tretinoin has been shown to cause skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) and warts (papilloma); as well as liver tumors.
  • Tretinoin formulations have been shown to cause decreases in sperm count and mobility in rats.

(1) FDA package insert preview