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Atralin Side Effects

Generic Name: tretinoin topical

Note: This page contains information about the side effects of tretinoin topical. Some of the dosage forms included on this document may not apply to the brand name Atralin.

In Summary

More frequent side effects include: exfoliation of skin, stinging of the skin, localized warm feeling, and mild erythema. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to tretinoin topical: topical cream, topical gel/jelly, topical liquid, topical solution

In some animal studies, tretinoin has been shown to cause skin tumors to develop faster when the treated area is exposed to ultraviolet light (sunlight or artificial sunlight from a sunlamp). Other studies have not shown the same result and more studies need to be done. It is not known if tretinoin causes skin tumors to develop faster in humans.

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by tretinoin topical (the active ingredient contained in Atralin). In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

Severity: Moderate

If any of the following side effects occur while taking tretinoin topical, check with your doctor or nurse as soon as possible:

More common:
  • Burning feeling or stinging skin (severe)
  • lightening of skin of treated area, unexpected
  • peeling of skin (severe)
  • redness of skin (severe)
  • unusual dryness of skin (severe)
  • Darkening of treated skin

Minor Side Effects

Some of the side effects that can occur with tretinoin topical may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

More common:
  • Burning feeling, stinging, or tingling of skin (mild)—lasting for a short time after first applying the medicine
  • chapping or slight peeling of skin (mild)
  • redness of skin (mild)
  • unusual dryness of skin (mild)
  • unusually warm skin (mild)

The side effects will go away after you stop using tretinoin. On the rare chance that your skin color changes, this effect may last for several months before your skin color returns to normal.

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to tretinoin topical: topical cream, topical gel, topical kit, topical liquid


Very common (10% or more): Severe skin irritation (Up to 32%)
Frequency not reported: Mild irritation, peeling/skin exfoliation, erythema, pruritus, blistering, pain, crusting, tenderness, dry skin, burning/warmth/stinging, photosensitivity/increased sensitivity to light
Postmarketing reports: Temporary hyper/hypopigmentation, rash, skin atrophy

Very common (10% or more): Dry skin (Up to 16%), peeling/scaling/flaking skin (Up to 12%)
Common (1% to 10%): Burning sensation, erythema, pruritus, skin pain, sunburn
Frequency not reported: Blistering/crusting skin
Postmarketing reports: Temporary hypo/hyperpigmentation, increased susceptibility to sunlight

Microsphere Gel:
Common (1% to 10%): Skin irritation, skin burning, erythema, dermatitis
Frequency not reported: Peeling, dryness, stinging, itching
Postmarketing reports: Temporary hypo/hyperpigmentation[Ref]

Erythema, peeling, dryness, burning/stinging, and/or itching occurred most frequently during the first 2 weeks of therapy.

Most of the dermatologic side effects were mild in severity (approximately 63%), and approximately 34% were of moderate severity.

Dry, peeling, scaling, and/or flaking skin occurred most often in the gel formulation.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Reversible liver function test changes (bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, ALT, AST)[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Thymol turbidity elevations, increased flocculation[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Edema/swelling of application site[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Allergic contact dermatitis
Postmarketing reports: Allergic reaction[Ref]


1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

2. "Product Information. Retin-A (tretinoin)." Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation, Raritan, NJ.

3. "Product Information. Renova (tretinoin topical)." Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Titusville, NJ.

4. "Product Information. Avita (tretinoin topical)." Penederm Inc, Foster City, CA.

Not all side effects for Atralin may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.