Retinoids are a class of chemical compounds that are derivatives of vitamin A, they have found use in medicine where they regulate cell growth.
Retinoids have many important functions throughout the body including roles in vision, regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation, growth of bone tissue, immune function, and activation of tumor suppressor genes.
Uses of retanoids
Retinoids are used in the treatment of many diverse diseases and are effective in the treatment of a number of dermatological conditions such as inflammatory skin disorders, skin cancers, disorders of increased cell turnover (e.g. psoriasis), photo-aging, skin wrinkles, and acne. They are also known to reduce the risk of head and neck cancers.
Retinoids for Psoriasis
Retinoids can slow the growth of skin cells in patients with psoriasis. Usually, you apply a small dab to each sore once a day before bed. A retinoid cream or gel is often combined with steroid treatment and moisturiser.
Retinoids for Wrinkles
Tretinoin was the first retinoid approved to treat wrinkles. This retinoid works by increasing the making of new collagen. It also stimulates new blood vessels in the skin, giving skin a rosy appearance, fading age spots, and reducing pre-cancerous skin spots. Tretinoin also may help prevent more serious effects of ultraviolet radiation.
Side Effects and Precautions
Although retinoids are may be helpful for many common skin problems, they do have their own side effects:
- Dryness and irritation
- Skin colour changes
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Redness, swelling, crusting, or blistering
How to Minimize Risks
Stay out of the sun. If you must be outdoors, limit your hours, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and always wear sunscreen. This should preferably be (SPF) 50 or higher as well as protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a large-brimmed hat. You should never use more of the product than your doctor prescribes or as recommended on the packaging label. Doing so will not increase its effectiveness, but will increase side effects. Try to use a moisturiser along with topical retinoids. Doing so will reduce skin drying without interfering with the product’s effectiveness. For your feet using one with 30% urea is highly recommended.