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A guide to prescription retinoids

Learn how prescription retinoids can help to delay the process of skin ageing and help treat hyperpigmentation.

To purchase, you’ll need to complete a short doctors assessment to ensure you are suitable for retinoids.

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What are prescription retinoids?

You may be familiar with using retinol or have seen it appearing in skincare regimes in recent years. Prescription retinoids are a form of vitamin A, and may help to delay the process of skin ageing.3 They are used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including inflammatory acne. But they can also be used to help fight the effects of sun damage and signs of photoageing. This can include fine or deep lines, wrinkles, sunspots, freckles or hyperpigmentation.3 Photoageing can be prevented through a number of measures such as sun protection and cosmetic procedures. However, once sun damage has occurred, the mainstay of medical therapy for people with mild to severe sun damage is the use of prescription retinoids.1

How do they work?

Prescription retinoids help to reduce the effects of sun damage and treat hyperpigmentation in a number of ways – find out more below.

Stimulating skin cell turnover

In the topmost layer of the skin (the epidermis), retinoids may help new skin cells to grow and help speed up the shedding of old skin cells. This helps to strengthen the protective function of the epidermis and minimise water loss from the skin barrier, helping to keep skin healthy and reduce the signs of photoageing.3

Promoting collagen production

Sun damage involves UV radiation damaging the collagen fibres in the skin.1 This can lead to photoageing, where changes in collagen and elastin fibres lead to wrinkles and loss of skin firmness and elasticity. Retinoids may help to prevent the degradation of collagen associated with sun damage.3

Fighting inflammation and acne

Retinoids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce the symptoms of inflammatory acne.4  Furthermore, oral retinoids can reduce the amount of sebum (oil) secreted by the skin to help prevent the formation of blackheads.3

Freckles? Sunspots? Wrinkling? Acne?

Talk to a doctor online and get prescription-strength cream for your skin concerns now.

What’s the difference between non-prescription and prescription retinoids?

All retinoids are related to vitamin A and retinoids can come in various forms.3 The main difference between non-prescription and prescription retinoids is the potency – how strong the retinoid is.5 If a product claiming to contain a retinoid is available to purchase without a prescription (i.e., over-the-counter), then the retinoid will be less potent than one that is only available with a prescription from a doctor or dermatologist.5 Read more about the different types of retinoids here.

What is the right retinoid to use?

Everybody’s skin is different, so the strength of the retinoid you may need will depend on your skin condition and treatment preferences. Prescription retinoids come in a range of different strengths, from 0.02% to 0.3%.1 Generally speaking, your doctor will prescribe the lowest dose possible to start with and gradually increase to a higher dose over several weeks. This is because if you jump straight in with a higher strength retinoid, you may see skin irritation such as dryness, redness, stinging, and peeling.1

How can you get started on a prescription retinoid?

Before beginning a prescription retinoid to treat hyperpigmentation or sun damage, your GP or dermatologist will consult with you to find the most suitable treatment for your skin. They will tailor the treatment according to your skin type and needs. Note that women who are pregnant should not take prescription retinoids.1If your doctor or dermatologist has recommended that you take prescription retinoids, always follow their instructions for use. This advice may include:1,5Applying the treatment sparingly (e.g., thin layer or pea sized amount) Ideally using it at night to avoid skin sensitivity during the dayUsing moisturiser regularly to help reduce any potential skin irritation Going back for a dose adjustment if you are experiencing side effects or skin irritationUsing regular sun protection and avoiding exposure to the sunConsulting a doctor or dermatologist doesn’t always mean face-to-face consultations. You can seek out advice virtually through Rosemary Health – start your online visit today.

Freckles? Sunspots? Wrinkling? Acne?

Talk to a doctor online and get prescription-strength cream for your skin concerns now.

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