tretinoin (Topical application)
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 18, 2023.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antiacne
Chemical Class: Retinoid
Uses for benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin
Tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide combination is used to treat acne vulgaris.
Benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide combination in children 9 years of age and older. However, safety and efficacy have not been established in children younger than 9 years of age.
Appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide combination have not been performed in the geriatric population.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Eczema (skin problem) or
- Sunburn—May cause skin irritation in patients with these conditions.
Proper use of benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin
It is very important that you use benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin only as directed. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may cause your skin to be irritated. You may need to use benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin for several weeks or months before your skin starts to look better. Applying extra medicine will not make it work faster.
Benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin comes with a patient information leaflet. Read and follow the instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
Benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin is for use on the skin only. Do not get it in your eyes, nose, corners of your nose, lips, mouth, or vagina. Do not use on skin areas that have cuts, scrapes, or sunburn. If it does get on these areas, rinse it off right away.
To use the cream:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you use benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin.
- Apply benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin on a clean and dry skin.
- Apply a thin layer to the affected areas, and gently rub it in.
Do not apply benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin in your hair or on colored fabric. It may bleach your hair or colored fabric.
The dose of benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For topical dosage form (cream):
- For acne:
- Adults and children 9 years of age and older—Apply a thin layer to the affected area(s) of the skin once a day.
- Children younger than 9 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For acne:
If you miss a dose of benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Throw away any unused medicine 12 weeks after the date you receive it or 30 days after first opening, whichever is sooner.
Precautions while using benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin is working properly and to check for any unwanted effects.
Benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis and angioedema, which can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Check with your doctor right away if you have chest tightness, cough, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, fast heartbeat, hives, itching, or skin rash, large, hive-like swelling on face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs, trouble breathing, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Serious skin reactions including pain, irritation, itching, burning, redness, peeling, dryness, scaling, or stinging of the skin can occur during treatment with benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin. Your doctor may tell you to use a moisturizer to treat skin irritation.
Benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Use a sunscreen and wear loose-fitting clothes when you are outdoors. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
Benzoyl peroxide/tretinoin side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Pain, burning, changes in color, dryness, itching, peeling, redness, scaling, stinging, or swelling of the skin where the medicine is applied
Incidence not known
- Chest tightness
- difficulty swallowing
- fast heartbeat
- hives, itching, or skin rash
- increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
- large, hive-like swelling on face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
- redness or other discoloration of the skin
- severe sunburn
- trouble breathing
- unusual tiredness or weakness
More about benzoyl peroxide / tretinoin topical
- Check interactions
- Side effects
- Dosage information
- During pregnancy
- Drug class: topical acne agents
- En español
Related treatment guides
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.