What Is the Difference between Retin-A and…

Updated December 15, 2014.

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com’s Medical Review Board.

Question: What Is the Difference between Retin-A and Retin-A Micro?

Are Retin-A and Retin-A Micro the same medication? Is there a difference between Retin-A and Retin-A Micro?


Retin-A and Retin-A Micro have nearly identical names, so a lot of people wonder if they are really the same medication. Despite the incredibly similar names, Retin-A and Retin-A Micro aren’t exactly alike. There are some big differences between the two products.

Let’s take a look at the similarities, the differences, and discuss how both medications work.

The Similarities

Retin-A and Retin-A Micro are both used to treat mild to moderately severe acne vulgaris . They contain the same active ingredient — tretinoin .

Tretinoin is a topical retinoid (a medication that is derived from vitamin A). It works by speeding up cell turnover. Basically, the medication makes the dead skin cells shed off quickly and more effectively than they would on their own.

Tretinoin also helps the plugs of dead skin cells and oil become less sticky. When all of that “gunk” isn’t hanging around blocking your pores anymore, you won’t get as many breakouts. Trentinoin products help reduce non-inflamed breakouts, like blackheads, as well as inflamed pimples.

Retin-A and Retin-A Micro aren’t the only medications that contain tretinoin. Many other topical medications use tretinoin as the active ingredient too. Avita, Altinac, Tretin-X, Renova (mainly prescribed as an anti-wrinkle medication) and Ziana all contain tretinoin. You can even get generic tretinoin. All of these medications work similarly to Retin-A and Retin-A Micro, because they have the same active ingredient.

Topical retinoids like Retin-A and Retin-A Micro are used to treat acne in tweens, teens, and adults. In fact, many adults without acne use Retin-A because it’s great for softening lines and wrinkles, and giving the skin an overall younger look.

The Differences

Retin-A and Retin-A Micro are basically different versions of the same medication. They work in the same way, they’re used to treat the same skin problems, and they contain the same active ingredient.

So, what is the difference between the two? The main difference between Retin-A Micro and Retin-A is how they are formulated.

Retin-A comes in a cream, gel, and liquid form. When Retin-A is applied to the skin, the medication is delivered all at once.

Retin-A Micro only comes in gel form. And when you apply it, the medication is released more slowly, over time. Because of this, it can be less irritating than Retin-A.

Here’s another difference — you have to wait 20 to 30 minutes after cleansing before applying Retin-A. With Retin-A Micro, it’s not an issue. You can use it immediately after washing your face.

You can get generic versions of Retin-A (and since name brand Retin-A is slowly being phased out, you’ll most likely be prescribed a generic.) But, as of yet, there is no generic version of Retin-A Micro.

Choosing Between the Two

There are benefits and drawbacks to both products, so choosing between the two can seem overwhelming. But remember, your dermatologist is there to help!

You’ll need to see your dermatologist anyway, because you can only get Retin-A and Retin-A Micro by prescription. So, during your appointment, your dermatologist will take a look at your skin and your medical history. Then, your derm can help you develop an effective acne treatment plan.

If you’re interested in trying either Retin-A or Retin-A Micro, ask your dermatologist about them. Your derm will help you choose between the two, or will let you know if another acne treatment is more appropriate.

Next Steps:

Learn More about Retin-A

Learn More about Retin-A Micro

What’s the Difference between Retin-A and Tretinoin?

What to Expect from Your Retin-A/Retin-A Micro Treatments


Retin-A Micro Prescribing Information. Ortho Dermatologics.

“Tretinoin Topical.” Medline Plus. US National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health, 01 Aug 2010. Web. 24 Jun 2013.

Scrubbing Away at Your Skin? Here's Why You…

Exfoliating Scrubs - Jerome Tisne Collection/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Jerome Tisne Collection/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Updated December 15, 2014.

Question: Should I Use a Scrub for My Acne?

I’ve been using an abrasive scrub twice a day, to get my skin squeaky clean. So why isn’t my acne getting any better?


Scrubs may be one of the most common types of exfoliants. Scrubs manually remove dead skin cells by means of an abrasive ingredient. Many people love the soft and smooth feeling you get after a good scrubbing. But scrubs can be very harsh, especially on skin that is already inflamed due to acne breakouts.

Acne sufferers often want to scrub at the face, thinking the scrubbing really helps to cleanse out pores and reduce breakouts. In actuality, vigorous scrubbing can increase irritation and redness, aggravate already inflamed skin, and exacerbate breakout activity. Those with acne, especially breakouts that are inflamed, crusting, oozing, or open sores, should avoid scrubs altogether.

This doesn’t mean acne-prone skin shouldn’t be exfoliated regularly. There are other ways to exfoliate the skin without resorting to an abrasive, and potentially irritating, product. Some good exfoliating acne treatments include:

These products aid in the removal of excess dead skin cells, help keep pores clear, and inhibit the formation of comedones. Remember, regular exfoliation is an important step in treating acne. It’s just all a matter of how you do it.

United States. NIAMS/National Institutes of Health. “Questions and Answers About Acne.” Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.

Acne Treatments: Benzoyl Peroxide vs Salicylic…

Benzoyl Peroxide vs. Saliclic Acid - Chris Windsor Collection/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Chris Windsor Collection/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Updated December 16, 2014.

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com’s Medical Review Board.

Question: Benzoyl Peroxide Vs. Salicylic Acid

Which is the best acne treatment ingredient — benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid?


The benzoyl peroxide vs. salicylic acid question is one that is bound to come up when you’re looking for an acne treatment. Most over-the-counter acne products contain either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid; some products include both.

So which is the better treatment? It really depends on your skin.

Benzoyl peroxide is the quintessential acne treatment. It works to reduce acne-causing bacteria and is especially good if your acne is red and inflamed. Benzoyl peroxide is found in countless OTC products, as well as prescription acne medications.

Salicylic acid, on the other hand, works by speeding up cell turnover rates. It’s a good choice for those with blackheads and/or closed comedones.

Salicylic acid also makes a good selection for kids with the beginnings of acne breakouts. For those with a sensitivity to benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid is obviously the better OTC option.

You don’t necessarily have to choose just one, either. Using them together can help increase their effectiveness. Many OTC products contain both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. You could even use a cleanser containing salicylic acid, for example, followed by a benzoyl peroxide lotion.

The possible side effects for both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are similar — dryness, peeling, and irritation. Using them together can increase the chances of side effects, so scale back use if you’re getting especially dry or irritated.

Just remember, whether they contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, OTC treatments work best for those with mild acne. If you’re not getting good results after using them for several weeks, it’s time to give your doctor a call.

What Is the Best Acne Treatment?


“Acne Treatment Available without a Prescription.” AcneNet. American Academy of Dermatology, 2010. Web. 16 Jul 2010. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/treatotc.html

Goodheart, MD, Herbert. Acne for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2006. 79-81. Print.

Hegemann I, Toso SM, Kitay K, Webster GF. “Anti-inflammatory actions of benzoyl peroxide: effects on the generation of reactive oxygen species by leucocytes and the activity of protein kinase C and calmodulin.” Br J Dermatol 1994; 130:569-75.

Kligman AM. Acne vulgaris: tricks and treatments. Part II: the benzoyl peroxide saga. Cutis 1995;56: 260-1.

Russel J. “Topical Therapy for Acne.” Am Family Physician 2000;61:357-66.

Zaenglein AL, Thiboutot DM. “Expert Committee Recommendations for Acne Management.” Pediatrics 2006; 118(3):1188-99.

Ayurvedic Medicine for Acne-n-Pimple (Pamela Mickman)

We see many people that suffer from pimples or acne on different parts of their body. These bad spots on the skin sometimes become painful and damage it to great extent. There are various medicines for this ailment. Many people prefer to take the homeopathic medicines while few like to be treated with the unani treatments. The traditional medications including allopathic ones have also become much popular. However few of them sometimes result in side effects because of poor ingredients or wrong preparation methods. Ayurvedic System of Medicine proves its worth for the people that suffer from skin problems.

The following ayurvedic medicines and preventive steps go a long way in treating Acne-n-Pimples to great extent.

– Groundnut oil and lemon juice – Blackheads can be prevented by applying this mixture in even manners. The skin becomes smooth and shining with its regular use.

– Cinnamon powder – Mix some lemon juice in this powder and apply it to the affected skin to get wonderful results. Alternatively, you may make a good paste of this powder by mixing honey. Apply it in the night and wash the next morning. Doing it regularly for two three weeks gives good relief.

– Prepare a juice by blending raw papaya and apply on the swelling pimples that will vanish soon.
Make a paste by crushing orange peel. Apply the same on the face or other part of the body that is affected with pimples. It will give excellent results.

– Mix rose water and lime juice. It helps to remove the pimples.

– Pimples, blackheads and cracked skin can be defeated by applying boiled milk mixed with fresh lime juice.

– Pulp of ripe tomatoes also works wonders for pimples and acne.

– Pimples can be got rid of with ground radish seeds that may be converted into good paste by mixing water.

– Pimples, eczema, scabies, skin infection, insect stings and blackheads etc can be treated well with mint juice by applying it evenly on the affected area.

– Make a mixture of drumstick pods & leaves and lime juice. Pimples can be removed effectively by applying it evenly.

– Skin rashes, pimples and allergies can be got rid of with sesame seeds by making their paste with water.

– Fresh fenugreek leaves mixed with water can prevent pimples.

– Pimples can be got rid of with tea tree oil by using it moderately.

– Mixture of honey, aloe vera, orange peel, cucumber, sandalwood and neem etc can also help the persons that suffer from pimples.

– It is recommended that our skin is kept free from any dirt and other toxic elements. Sufficient water must be taken on frequent basis.

– People suffering from pimples and other skin problems should take rich diets and avoid smoking or drinks.

A Parent's Guide to Treating Teen Acne

6.  Offer Moral Support

Your daughter wears heavy makeup to cover pimples. Your son stays away from the pool because of body acne. Acne can absolutely affect your teen’s confidence, so they may need a bit more reassurance from Mom or Dad.

Girls, generally, tend to be more open about their feelings. Boys might not come right out and say it, but breakouts bother them too. Even mild acne can feel like a huge catastrophe to a teen.

Offer your support, be involved in their treatment, and help them find areas of interest in which they can really shine. Teens often feel societal pressures to look “perfect.” But kids who are involved in other activities like sports, clubs, or volunteer work, draw self-esteem from developing their innate talents and interests. More »

Why Do I Have Acne?

Updated February 25, 2013.

Question: Why Do I Have Acne?

I don’t understand what causes acne. I take good care of my skin, and wash my face three times a day. I don’t eat chocolate or drink soda. So why do I have acne?


First, know that you didn’t do anything to cause your acne. Having acne doesn’t mean your skin is dirty, or that you aren’t doing a good job at cleansing your skin. In fact, overzealous cleansing and vigorous scrubbing can make breakouts worse, not better.

And you don’t have to forgo chocolate or other sweets. A nutritious diet is important, but a few treats now and then aren’t going to cause pimples.

Acne is caused by factors that are out of your control. Pimples begin deep down in the skin, where you can’t see. Oil and dead skin cells block the pore, creating a blackhead or comedo. If bacteria invade, the follicle becomes red and swollen, and a pimple is formed.

During the teen years, major hormonal changes are occurring within the body. These hormones, specifically androgen hormones, rev up oil production. This explains why your skin is suddenly much more oily than it was when you were a little kid. And more oil means more pore blockages.

Using oily skin care products or heavy makeup can also trigger a form of acne called acne cosmetica. To avoid this type of acne, use only products labeled noncomedogenic or nonacnegenic. Use only light, oil-free moisturizers and sunscreens. If you use pomades or oils in your hair, keep it well away from the hairline. And remember to wash everything off at night before you go to bed.

Acne runs in families, so if either of your parents had acne you are more likely to have acne too. Most people outgrow acne, but for some people acne can last well into adulthood. Sometimes people even get acne for the very first time as adults.

This doesn’t mean you have to wait for acne to go away on its own. Although acne can’t be cured, it can be successfully cleared up with the right treatments. Over-the-counter products can help if you have mild acne or occasional pimples. Anything more persistent will probably need a prescription medication. There are a number of medications available that do a great job of clearing up teen acne. So talk to your parents and give your doctor a call!

Who Is at Risk for Acne Mechanica?

Updated December 15, 2014.

All About Acne Mechanica:

Acne mechanica is a form of acne common in young athletes, students, soldiers, and others. It is triggered by excess heat, pressure, friction or rubbing of the skin. Acne mechanica can occur anywhere on the face or body. Those who are already prone to body acne are more likely to develop acne mechanica.

What Does Acne Mechanica Look Like?:

Acne mechanica varies in appearance from small, inconspicuous comedones to inflamed papules and pustules.

In the beginning stages the skin may feel rough or bumpy, even if no breakouts are easily visible. As the source of the friction continues, these tiny breakouts become irritated and progress to more obvious, inflamed pimples.

The Cause of Acne Mechanica:

Anything that traps heat against the body for a prolonged period of time, rubs or puts pressure on the skin, can trigger acne mechanica. Athletic equipment is a prime culprit, especially among teen boys. Football or hockey pads, baseball caps, sweatbands, and helmets can elicit a breakout on the face or body of athletes. Sports gear traps heat and sweat against the skin, which can easily lead to acne mechanica.

Soldiers are another group commonly affected by this form of acne. Packing heavy gear for long periods of time puts pressure on the skin, causing irritation and breakouts. Those soldiers stationed in hot, humid areas have a higher chance of developing acne mechanica.

Tight clothing and undergarments can also cause acne mechanica. It’s not uncommon for acne to develop under tight bra straps, the inner thighs, or on the buttocks of sufferers.

Other causes include backpack or purse straps, playing a musical instrument (for example, tucking a violin under the chin), and excessive phone use.

Treatment of Acne Mechanica:

Most cases of acne mechanica respond well to over-the-counter salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide treatments. Try a facial cleanser or body wash containing one of these ingredients, and use it daily. Thoroughly cleanse the affected areas, but do not scrub. The added friction caused by scrubbing away at the skin can actually worsen breakouts. It’s best to use a soft washcloth or your bare hands.

Instead of a cleanser, you can also try benzoyl peroxide lotions. Apply to all areas affected by acne. Begin by applying just a few times per week, and gradually work up to twice a day. Allowing your skin to acclimate to the treatment will help prevent uncomfortable dryness and possible peeling of the skin.

Also, be aware that benzoyl peroxide will bleach fabric. Wait until the product is completely absorbed before getting dressed or wear old clothing you don’t mind getting stained.

Wearing synthetic fabric seems to worsen acne mechanica because they trap heat against the body. Whenever possible wear natural fabrics, like breathable cotton. Since most sports uniforms are made from synthetic fabrics, make it a habit to wear a cotton t-shirt underneath. This is especially important under athletic pads, to help reduce the amount of friction on the skin. Athletes suffering from acne mechanica should always shower immediately after sporting activities as well, to rinse away irritating sweat.

Maybe the best treatment of all is to avoid the cause of acne mechanica, if at all possible. Try a handheld bag instead of a backpack. Don’t wear hats or caps for long periods of time.

Some causes of acne mechanica you can’t realistically avoid. Soldiers can’t stop packing gear. Athletes shouldn’t stop playing sports. The best you can do is limit the amount of heat and friction on the skin when you can, and focus on clearing acne with topical treatments.

See your doctor if you are having trouble controlling acne mechanica after several weeks of using over-the-counter products. He will have additional suggestions to help clear your skin.

Next Steps:

Diagnosing Acne

What Is Acne Vulgaris?

Everything You Need to Know About Body Acne

Acne Ages and Stages


“Acne Mechanica.” American Academy of Dermatology. AcneNet. Access 4 Dec 07.

United States. NIAMS. “Questions and Answers About Acne.” Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, 2006.

Can Oral Antibiotics Be Used to Treat Acne?

Oral Antibiotics for Acne - George Doyle Collection/Stockbyte/Getty Images

George Doyle Collection/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Updated December 16, 2014.

You’re probably fairly familiar with oral antibiotics. After all, who hasn’t used them at some point, either for that dog bite you got last year or all those ear infections your child seems prone to get?

Oral antibiotics are arguably one of the greatest discoveries in medical history, helping fight infections that might otherwise become too much for our bodies to handle. You might be surprised to learn that oral antibiotics have also been used for many years to treat acne.

How Oral Antibiotics Work

Oral antibiotics work by reducing the amount of Propionibacteria acnes (P. acnes) found on the skin and in the follicle. P. acnes are the bacteria responsible for acne breakouts . Oral antibiotics can also diminish skin inflammation.

Usually, your doctor will prescribe a higher dosage at first, and move you to a lower dosage as acne improves. Oral antibiotics are used to treat moderate to severe acne, as well as milder but persistent cases.

Oral antibiotics prescribed as acne treatments include:

Generally, oral antibiotics are used in conjunction with topical acne treatments .

Possible Side Effects

All oral antibiotics can cause gastrointestinal upset (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). Certain antibiotics may also trigger skin and tooth discoloration, and cause photosensitivity . For women, oral antibiotics can cause vaginal yeast infections.

Although many people believe oral antibiotics can lessen the effectiveness of
birth control pills, this is actually more fiction than fact. No studies have been done showing this to be the case.

Antibiotic Resistance

Another unfortunate result of antibiotic use is the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or “super bugs.” While MRSA gets most of the attention, the bacteria that cause pimples can also become resistant to antibiotics.

Antibiotic-resistant P. acnes are becoming more common, making antibiotics lose their effectiveness in some cases. If you aren’t getting noticeable results with one antibiotic, or the antibiotic you’re currently using isn’t as effective as it once was, your doctor may switch you to another.

Long-term use of oral antibiotics is more likely to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Because of this, some dermatologists are limiting the time patients take oral antibiotics or prescribing different acne treatment medications altogether.

Oral Antibiotic Treatment Tips

  • Use your entire prescription (no leaving tablets unused in the bottle!)
  • Some antibiotics you should take with food; others are best taken on an empty stomach. Make sure you know exactly how and when to take yours.
  • Don’t go to bed immediately after taking your oral antibiotic. The pill may dissolve in your esophagus, causing painful burning.
  • Use sunscreen. This is a good skin care habit in any case, and there are plenty of noncomedogenic sunscreens, or even oil-free moisturizers with SPF, to choose from. Wear it daily.
  • Be patient. Oral antibiotics can take several months to really work.


Acne Net. American Academy of Dermatology. “Prescription Medications for Treating Acne.” http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/prescriptmeds.html. 2008. Accessed 15 May 2009.

Amerrican Family Physician. American Academy of Family Physicians. “Update on Oral Contraceptives.” http://www.aafp.org/afp/991101ap/2073.html 01 Nov 1999. Accessed 25 May 2009.

Del Rosso JQ. “Selection of therapy for acne vulgaris: balancing concerns about antibiotic resistance.” Cutis. 2008; 85(5):12-16.

Del Rosso JQ, Kim G. “Optimizing use of oral antibiotics in acne vulgaris.” Dermatol Clin. 2009; 27(1):33-42.

DeRossi SS, Hersh EV. “Antibiotics and oral contraceptives.” Dent Clin North Am. 2002 Oct;46(4):653-64.

NIAMS/National Institutes of Health. (2006). Questions and Answers About Acne [Brochure]. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

About Adult Acne (jhon sam)

Adults in their twenties, all the way up to their fifties can still experience acne flare-ups. And adult acne can have just as many negative effects on a person as teenage acne. Possibly even more so, as the stress of career and family adds to the strain of living with an unsightly skin problem.

Mental stress can be one of the major causes of acne in adults. It is not a surprise in the slightest that women are often more likely to suffer from adult acne than men, as it has been shown that women have much more stress in their day to day lifestyle, not to mention that they are prone to hormonal imbalances, especially during times such as their menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Just as in teens, hormones play an important factor in the onset and exacerbation of adult acne.

The environmental factors that surround a person, paired with the individual’s lifestyle can also play a huge role in the appearance of adult acne. An improper diet or behaviors such as smoking and drinking affect the skin’s condition and resistance to acne, as well as other diseases.

Prevention is the only obvious way to go when dealing with adult acne. A proper diet, paired with plenty of water and rest is a good start. Trying to relieve stress and maintaining proper skin care and hygiene can also help to prevent acne from occurring.

But what about the pimples that you may already have? There are many treatments available for people who have adult acne.

Anti-acne medications, certain skin care products, and even laser surgery are just a few of the many treatments available for acne on the market today. Visiting a qualified doctor or dermatologist is the only way to determine how severe your acne really is and to find the proper treament available for you.

Acne affects almost everybody at least for some part of their life. It is common during adolescence though it affects many into late adulthood. It causes much disturbance and may sometimes cause depression and low self esteem. The individual affected by acne usually frequently washes the affected area, tries different soaps and other home remedies which rather than reducing acne may worsen it. Following are few tips to be followed for control of acne.

Consult your dermatologist in case you are affected with acne. Do not wait for acne to aggravate. Many over the counter drugs are available for treating mild to moderate acne. Benzoyl peroxide is considered to be the best over the counter product.

Taking food supplements like acuzine is beneficial for the skin as well as body. Its ingredients include anti-oxidants, Vitamins E&C, hydrolyzed collagen, ALA, DMAE, Aloe vera, Bioperine etc. The effect of these ingredients is to strengthen the skin.

3 Ways Men Can Use Makeup to Hide Pimples

Updated December 16, 2014.

When you’re in the midst of a really bad breakout, the next-best thing to healing pimples is concealing them.

Just because you’re a guy doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Here’s a little secret: there are cosmetics on the market made especially for men to conceal under-eye circles, pimples, and other imperfections.

Wearing makeup probably isn’t high on your to-do list. But before you completely discount the idea, think about all the male celebrities, actors, sports commentators and news anchors who wear makeup every day.

Cosmetic products will help tone down redness and camouflage breakouts without making you look “made-up.” If hiding acne would help you feel more comfortable and confident, you may want to give male cosmetics a try.

Get the Right Product

Concealer is the product used most often to hide pimples, under-eye circles, and other skin imperfections. Concealer comes in sticks, pots, tubes and wands. It’s dabbed onto individual pimples to tone down redness and blend it into the skin.

If you’re not ready to tackle concealer, you have other options to help tone down redness and blend away blemishes. Powders are easily applied and help even out skin tone.

Another super easy option is tinted moisturizer. If your acne treatment causes dryness, a moisturizer is a must anyway. Choose one that is skin-toned, and you’ll blend away acne redness and pimples with a quick application.

Keep It Natural

No matter which product you choose you’ll want to look natural, so start off with the right color. The cosmetic should match your skin tone or come as close as possible. This is especially important for concealer.

Not sure if the color is right for you? Apply a bit on the skin, and step outdoors. Sunlight makes it easy to determine if the color is a good match for your skin. Remember, it should blend naturally. If you can see where you applied the cosmetic, it’s not a good match for you.

Apply It Right

The right application is key to getting good results. Luckily, learning to apply cosmetics is fairly easy.

For concealers, dot a small amount on the area you’d like to conceal. Tap it lightly with your finger until it blends and looks natural.

Powders and moisturizers are even easier — just dust or rub into the face.

The most common mistake is applying too much. Over-application will give that dreaded “made-up” look. Apply very lightly, just enough to tone down redness and blend away pimples.

One more caveat: be careful if you apply a tinted product on the jawline or neck. It can easily rub onto your collar and leave a flesh-toned smudge.

Makeup Brands Just for Men:

  • The Men Pen
  • Menaji Men’s Undetectable
  • KenMen
  • 4VOO
  • Jean Paul Gaultier

Don’t be afraid to try your pimple-hiding options. Remember, there are plenty of men who are avid users of male cosmetics. They’re just not telling you!