What is the tretinoin purge?

If you’ve done any research on Tretinoin you’ve probably heard of the ‘purge’. 

Tretinoin is a topical retinoid that is commonly used for treating acne, improving skin texture, and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It works by increasing cell turnover and promoting the exfoliation of dead skin cells, which helps unclog pores and prevent the formation of new acne lesions. However, this accelerated skin cell turnover can initially lead to a purging phase.

This ‘purge’ refers to a temporary skin reaction that can occur when starting treatment with tretinoin or other retinoids. It is characterised by an initial worsening of acne or an increase in breakouts, along with potential redness, dryness, and flaking of the skin. 

During the purging phase, tretinoin brings underlying acne lesions to the surface more quickly than usual. This means that pimples that would have developed eventually anyway appear sooner. It may seem like the treatment is causing more acne, but it is actually expediting the process. The purging phase typically lasts for a few weeks but can vary depending on the individual and the severity of their acne.

It’s important to note that not everyone experiences a purging phase when using tretinoin, and its occurrence can depend on factors such as skin type, the severity of acne, and the concentration of tretinoin being used. To minimize the severity of purging, it is recommended to start with a low concentration of tretinoin and gradually increase the strength as your skin adjusts. Additionally, maintaining a gentle skincare routine, using moisturizers, and avoiding other potentially irritating products during the initial stages of tretinoin treatment can help mitigate dryness and irritation.

If you have concerns or questions about tretinoin purging or the use of tretinoin in general, it is best to consult with a dermatologist who can provide personalised advice based on your specific needs and skin condition.

Here is a youtube videos sharing a bit more information about the purge:

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