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The Effect of Retinoids (Aging Skin)
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The Effect of Retinoids

Mariusz J.A. Sapijaszko, MD FRCPC (Dermatology)

What are retinoids?

Retinoids have been studied for its beneficial effects on the skin, and are now an important part of skincare and for the treatment of damaged skin. Retinoids are chemical molecules that are derived from vitamin A. They are used to treat various skin conditions such as psoriasis or acne (visit psoriasisguide.ca or acneguide.ca for respective information), and can be topical or oral. They bind to receptors, which generates new molecules, and regenerates the skin. Tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene are the most common topical retinoids, with the first two being used to treat photo-aging.

In particular, topical tretinoin is a popular retinoid, which has been studied, and its benefits confirmed. Short-term benefits include an improvement in smoothing of skin, and skin glow. It can also treat wrinkling and damaged skin. Although tretinoin can improve even significantly damaged skin, we recommend that you seek treatment as soon as possible for best results if you wish to improve the appearance of your skin. These short-term benefits should be visible within 6 months of use. Long-term benefits include improvement in skin texture, reversal of skin pigmentation, as well as treatment of skin for early stages of skin cancer. Generally, the application amount is decreased over time, but its effectiveness will not suffer.

Are Retinoids right for you?

Like any kind of medication, there are no panaceas that work for everyone. Most people can benefit from the use of topical retinoids, as it improves photo-aging, sun damage, and can reverse many skin abnormalities. However, if you have sensitive skin, retinoids can cause skin irritations. In fact, most people will experience some type of irritation, but will generally recede with repeated use. For those with sensitive skin, we recommend that you apply less retinoids, and tolerance should build quickly. For those with rosacea, topical retinoids are not recommended. Topical vitamin Cs can be used as replacements.

Retinoids have been shown to have significant benefits for the skin, but prevention is still the most important part of skin care. Remember to bring your sunscreen with you.

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anti-aging,   retinoids ,