Skip to main content

Tretin-X Side Effects

Generic name: tretinoin topical

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 1, 2024.

Note: This document contains side effect information about tretinoin topical. Some dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Tretin-X.

Applies to tretinoin topical: topical cream, topical gel/jelly, topical lotion.

Serious side effects of Tretin-X

Along with its needed effects, tretinoin topical (the active ingredient contained in Tretin-X) 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 while taking tretinoin topical:

More common

Less common

Other side effects of Tretin-X

Some side effects of tretinoin topical may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

For Healthcare Professionals

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



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. (2001) "Product Information. Retin-A (tretinoin)." Ortho McNeil Pharmaceutical

2. (2001) "Product Information. Avita (tretinoin topical)." Penederm Inc

3. (2002) "Product Information. Renova (tretinoin topical)." Janssen Pharmaceuticals

4. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information."

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.