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Tretinoin & tazarotene creams or gels for wrinkles

Wrinkles are a natural part of ageing. As you get older your skin gets thinner, more fragile and less stretchy, so it tends to wrinkle and crease. Almost everyone gets wrinkles and there's no cure but there are treatments that claim to make a difference.

In the UK, treatments for wrinkles aren't usually available on the NHS. You'll probably have to pay for them privately.

Tretinoin creams or gels

Tretinoin is common treatment for acne, and is chemically similar to vitamin A, but is in a stronger form than the vitamin A used in many beauty products.

Tretinoin is available only on prescription from a doctor and is not a licensed wrinkle treatment.

What does it claim to do?

Some preliminary studies suggest that use of creams containing tretinoin can help improve the appearance of fine wrinkles.

How to use it

It comes as a cream or gel that you put on your skin and studies suggest that it needs to be used for 3-6 months to have an effect on wrinkles.

Side effects and precautions

Side effects of tretinoin include short-term redness, skin irritation, itching or stinging. After some months of use, dry or peeling skin may develop until treatment is stopped.

Sun protection is important while using tretinoin because it can lead to skin burning more quickly.

Tretinoin should not be used during pregnancy as it can harm a baby in the womb, so effective contraception is important.

Seek medical advice about safe use of tretinoin.

Tazarotene gel

Tazarotene gel is also a retinoid with its main ingredient related to vitamin A. It's most commonly prescribed to treat the skin condition, psoriasis.

Many beauty products contain vitamin A (sometimes called retinol). This is a much less potent chemical than tazarotene. You can only get tazarotene on prescription from a doctor.

What does it claim to do?

Some research suggests that tazarotene gel may help reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles and lines. This may be due to stimulating production of collagen protein and helping with the growth and replacement of skin cells.

One study found that after 24 weeks the appearance of wrinkles had improved more than twice as well as when using a fake or placebo cream.

How to use it

Tazarotene gel is rubbed onto the skin every day.

Side effects and precautions

Short-term side effects of tazarotene include red, itchy or peeling skin. These side effects can be unpleasant but they're rarely serious. Any irritation usually stops after a couple of weeks.

Sun protection is needed when using tazarotene because it makes skin burn quicker.

Tazarotene should not be used during pregnancy as it can harm a baby in the womb, so effective contraception is important.

Seek medical advice about safe use of tazarotene.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 11, 2016

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