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Is Tazorac the same as Retin-A?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on July 7, 2021.

Official answer

by Drugs.com

Tazorac and Retin-A are not the same. However, they are closely related. Both of these medications belong to the retinoid family and come from vitamin A. Both are approved to treat acne, but Tazorac also treats another skin condition called psoriasis.

Tazorac is a brand name for tazarotene, and Retin-A is a brand name of tretinoin. Other medications in the retinoid class include retinol, adapalene, alitretinoin and bexarotene.

  • Retin-A is recommended to help treat acne.
  • Tazorac is used to treat acne as well as psoriasis, an inflammatory skin disease that is marked by raised, reddened plaques that itch, burn and may be covered with silvery scales.

Applied to the skin, retinoids like Tazorac and Retin-A work by slowing the overgrowth of skin cells and decreasing the inflammation that may drive acne and/or psoriasis. Retinoids may also help unclog pores.

Improvements in acne are typically seen in two to three weeks with Retin-A. Tazorac improves acne in about one month. With psoriasis, improvements are often seen within one to four weeks of using Tazorac.

All retinoids can cause side effects on the treated area. Common ones include:

  • Dry skin
  • Red skin
  • Scaling of the skin
  • Itching
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Rash
  • Peeling
  • Stinging
  • Flaking of skin

Tazorac comes as a cream, foam or gel, and Retin-A is available as a cream, gel or liquid.

Both Tazorac and Retin-A are similarly effective for treating acne, according to a 2019 review of 54 studies in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. As a result, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends both Tazorac and Retin-A as first-line treatments for mild-to-moderate acne.

Tazorac and Retin-A are both brand-name drugs, but less costly generic forms of both are available.

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