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Your Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Popular Prescription Skincare Ingredient
If you’re dealing with acne or wanting to improve the general appearance of your skin, tretinoin cream could be an important staple in your skincare regimen. This effective skincare ingredient has been lauded for its capacity to combat both acne and sun-damaged skin, as well as fading age spots and improving fine lines. Here is a rundown of everything related to tretinoin cream, from understanding how it works with your skin care routine, all the way through to finding the most reliable place where one can buy tretinoin in Australia.
- Tretinoin Cream is an effective skincare treatment for acne and skin aging, with varying potencies available commercially or compounded in Australia with a valid prescription.
- Incorporating tretinoin into a skincare routine requires appropriate cleansing, moisturising, and sun protection to ensure optimal results.
- Taking necessary precautions can help prevent and address common side effects of tretinoin cream, while allowing one to enjoy its benefits without compromising overall skin health.
Understanding Tretinoin Cream
Tretinoin Cream, also commonly known as Retin-A, Retrieve or Stieva-A, is a widely used topical cream to help tackle acne and damaged skin from the sun’s UV rays. Tretinoin helps stimulate collagen production in the dermis while limiting excess pigment formation and clearing clogged pores that are responsible for whiteheads or blackheads. It is advised to follow appropriate strength/dosage levels so as not to cause severe reactions which can occur with misuse of this topical medication.
Scientific evidence shows that tretinoin can treat acne, significantly reduce fine wrinkles, lighten dark spots and improve skin texture and tone. While some may experience slight stinging sensations during use in the early stages, if used under prescribed doctor’s instructions, such side effects are often avoided. Tretinoin cream happens to be quite a popular choice when it comes to treatment of various skin concerns in Australia. Studies have shown that tretinoin cream can be an efficient way to reduce acne in the forms of inflammatory papules, pustules and comedones (whiteheads and blackheads).
It's all about the base - Tretinoin Cream vs. Gel Vehicles
Commercially available prescription tretinoin products in Australia are made in a cream base (e.g Retrieve and Stieva-A). When compounded, the base or 'vehicle' that tretinoin is made in can be personalised and customised based on prescriber and patient requests to meet specific requirements. When it comes to the choice between tretinoin cream and gel, one should consider their skin type and the goal of treatment. The primary difference is in the end consistency, with the former having a thicker texture while the latter has a more liquid feel, sometimes with alcohol used in the base. As a general rule, creams usually contain more moisturising ingredients than gels do.
For those who have oily skin problems like seborrhea, using tretinoin in a gel formulation may be more beneficial compared to its counterpart. Having said that, tretinoin in itself treats seborrhea, hence some individuals may find gel formulations excessively drying, especially if the strength of tretinoin is too high.
In terms of which base to choose for dry skin and eczema prone individuals, a cream base with additional moisturising ingredients may provide more hydration with the potential risk of making acne worse if the moisturising ingredients chosen are comedogenic (ie acne forming). For these reasons, it is very important that tretinoin is compounded by experienced pharmacists like those at Skin Plus Compounding Pharmacy who understand the nuances of dermatologic compounding and who work closely with dermatologists.
Acquiring Tretinoin - Prescription Requirements and Options
In Australia, tretinoin is scheduled as a prescription medication. Hence, a valid prescription is required to purchase tretinoin and this can be obtained either from a local pharmacy or an online service. Tretinoin cream at a strength of 0.05% is available commercially from most pharmacies with a valid prescription. Whilst Stieva-A 0.025% and Stieva-A 0.1% were commercially available in the past, they must now be compounded at experienced and trusted compounding pharmacies such as Skin Plus Compounding Pharmacy.
Online Assessments and Telehealth Consultations
Visiting the doctor for a consultation in person may not always be feasible. Opting for telehealth evaluations through online services provides individuals with another way to be prescribed tretinoin. The process involves requesting an e-consultation with an online GP, having them evaluate your medical history along with your skin condition before prescribing the necessary strength of tretinoin, if deemed appropriate. This subsequently gets delivered at one’s doorstep for convenience. Such services in Australia include simpleonlinedoctor.com.au, skin.software, rosemaryhealth.com.au, qoctor.com.au and hub.health.
Such services use a subscription model to send you your cream at regular intervals and outsource dispensing to various compounding pharmacies. However, many patients elect to ask for their script to be delivered to them such they can then send it to a compounding pharmacy of their. In this way, patients avoid subscription fees and may end up saving hundreds of dollars while obtaining identical creams, just packaged differently. Your family GP who looks after your overall health are usually more than happy prescribing tretinoin cream.
Visiting a Doctor
Most GP's are very comfortable prescribing tretinoin. Tretinoin has been around for decades and has been a staple active ingredient in many acne treatment regimens. Doctors can prescribe tretinoin 0.05% which is commercially available as Stieva-A or Retrieve, or may prescribe at any other appropriate strengths such as 0.025% and 0.1% for it to be compounded. As mentioned above, prescriptions that are originally obtained from online health services can be continued through your GP saving patients hundreds of dollars in subscription fees.
Purchasing Tretinoin Cream in Australia
You can buy tretinoin cream in Australia as commercially available products at a strength of 0.05% (brand names Stieva-A and Retrieve). At times, your doctor may decide to include other ingredients or have tretinoin compounded in a different base. When this is required, and the strength of tretinoin prescribed is 0.05%, the topical treatment may need to be made fresh at a compounding pharmacy. Other strengths including 0.025% and 0.1% need to be compounded as they are no longer commercially available.
Purchasing tretinoin cream from the internet may be more convenient for you, though having a valid Australian prescription is required. Scripts can be sent to a compounding pharmacy for processing. Costs vary depending on the strength of tretinoin, size of container and any other special requirements that are prescribed. The cost rarely exceeds $30 for a typical one months treatment at Skin Plus Compounding Pharmacy.
If your preference is not to see a GP or dermatologist, whether online or in-person, other creams containing retinols may be an option for you and are readily available over-the-counter. Whilst these are generally not as potent as tretinoin, they may be a good starting point for some.
There are several types of retinols and formulations thereof that may suit your skin. Costs of creams will vary depending on the quality of the product and sometimes the saying 'you get what you pay for' rings true with retinol creams.
How to Apply Tretinoin Cream for Optimal Results
The appropriate use of tretinoin cream is key to gaining the best possible results.
- Start by cleansing your face with an appropriate cleanser and luke-warm water
- Dry your skin by patting with a soft towel
- Inspect your skin carefully in the mirror, looking for any red, dry or irritated areas. If found, apply a moisturiser to such areas before application of tretinoin.
- Dab a pea-sized amount of tretinoin cream on the affected areas such as the cheeks, chin, forehead and nose.
- Gently spread the tretinoin cream evenly throughout affected areas on face. Avoid the eyelids and areas immediate to your lips and nose as these are where irritation and skin peeling is most common to occur.
- If your skin is dry, or you are prone to eczema, as an optional step, you can apply a layer of moisturiser 5-10 minutes before and after application of tretinoin. This is usually referred to as the sandwich method.
It is advisable that you apply tretinoin at night for maximum benefit. If redness, skin peeling or any form of irritation occurs, it is advisable to take a break from treatment and moisturise regularly until the skin is normalised. At that stage, treatment can be re-started.
Application Frequency and Dosage/Strength
Tretinoin is applied no more than once daily. At times, it may be recommended to apply tretinoin cream less frequently such as once every second or third night until your skin adjusts to it. At times, your doctor may prescribe at very low strengths for a few weeks and gradually increase the strength such that your skin develops tolerance to tretinoin at a specific strength before the strength is further increased.
Tretinoin is often recommended as the second most important skincare ingredient, with the most important being sunscreen. A skincare regimen that is evidence-based also often includes niacinamide and ascorbic acid.
It is suggested that a gentle cleanser and non-comedogenic moisturiser is also used. The importance of strict sunscreen use and general sun protection should not be underestimated. This is particularly important as tretinoin increases sun-sensitivity and the anti-ageing benefits of tretinoin are also negated if sun protection is not practiced appropriately. Hence it is important to use sunscreen, wear protective clothing designed specifically to block UV (look for UPF ratings), and to seek shade where possible.
Managing Side Effects and Precautions
When it comes to using tretinoin cream, handling any possible side effects and taking precautions are essential for a beneficial outcome. Skin-related issues can arise such as burning sensations, skin redness, itching, stinging or peeling. These potential reactions are sometimes mistaken for skin allergies and treatment is often discontinued entirely unnecessarily.
To minimise reactions to tretinoin, the guidelines presented in this article can be followed, as well as those provided to you by your doctor. Tretinoin cream should not be used in pregnancy, potential pregnancy and breastfeeding. One should see an obstetrician for advice if you can become pregnant whilst using tretinoin cream.
Tretinoin Cream can cause skin irritation, dryness, peeling and in some cases more excessive reactions. When such reactions occur, it is important to pause treatment with tretinoin, moisturise regularly, avoid sun exposure, avoid harsh soaps and wash with warm water only. At times, if the reaction is excessive, an over-the-counter cortisone cream is sometimes suggested by dermatologists to be used used for a brief period of time.
To avoid side-effects from its onset, your prescriber may suggest using tretinoin only a few times a week initially, and increase frequency of application to daily gradually over weeks. Alternatively, your practitioner may suggest you wash off tretinoin cream after a certain period of contact time which is gradually increased over weeks (e.g 30 minutes contact time for a few days, then doubled every few days).
By taking careful action against skin irritation such as redness and peeling, the potential benefits that tretinoin provides can be maintained without compromising your overall treatment regimen.
Sun Protection and Skincare Tips
When using tretinoin cream, sun protection is of utmost importance. For those with sensitive skin, direct exposure to sunlight may lead to a heightened level of irritation such as sunburn and dryness. To maximise the advantages while minimising side effects associated with this topical treatment, it’s important that appropriate precautionary measures are taken.
Sun-protection includes applying sunscreen every 2-3 hours, to wear protective clothing and to avoid sun-exposure when the UV index is 3 or above.
Using sunscreen should be part of any tretinoin regimen. Use of a moisturiser and soap-free wash is just as important.
Taking these steps will ensure ample shield against UV rays and extend optimal results from your treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is retrieve cream the same as tretinoin?
Retrieve cream is a brand name of tretinoin in Australia, a topical medication, available only by prescription, designed to treat acne and damaged skin from sun exposure. It works on the skin to reduce acne and some signs of sun-damage.
Is tretinoin a topical retinoid?
Yes, tretinoin is a topical retinoid, which was one of the first developed and remains the most popular. It’s primarily utilised to treat acne vulgaris and photoaging/rhytids, but also may be used off-label for other conditions including keratosis pilaris, actinic keratosis or hyperpigmentation (such as melasma or solar lentigines).
How do you apply tretinoin cream?
When using tretinoin cream or gel, ensure your skin is dry and clean before applying a small amount to the affected spots. Gently massage it in all over those areas.
Is Retin A available over the counter?
Retin-A, or Retrieve and Stieva-A is Australia, is a prescription medication and not available without one. It cannot be bought over the counter.
Purpose of this article
The information presented on this website and in this article is for general information and example purposes only, does not contain health advice specific for users and must not be relied on for that purpose. Please see your GP, dermatologist or other health care professional for specific advice.