Does Tretinoin Help Hormonal Acne?

If you suffer from hormonal acne, you know how frustrating it can be. Breakouts seem to happen at the worst times and can be difficult to treat. Many people turn to over-the-counter products like Retinol or prescription alternatives like Trentonin in an attempt to clear their skin, but these often don’t work.

I know because I’ve been there. 

And I’m glad I decided to treat my acne through long-term changes to my diet and lifestyle. I’ve compiled all that I learned about hormonal acne treatment over the years in my guide, Unmasking Acne

But sometimes, it’s nice to use a product that can further help reduce the appearance of acne on your face.

Today, I’m here to give my two cents on one such product, just like I did for drinking spearmint tea for hormonal acne.

If you’re looking for a more effective treatment for hormonal acne, consider giving Tretinoin a shot – it might work for you like it did for several of the product testers I interviewed.

While Tretinoin is not formulated to rebalance your hormones, it’s a great acne treatment option. Just make sure you consult with a certified dermatologist first for safe use and follow a healthy diet and lifestyle for the best possible results. 

Tretinoin for Hormonal Acne

Tretinoin is a medication derived from Vitamin A. The FDA approved it over 50 years ago, and since then, it has garnered a lot of recognition for safe treatment of acne and sun-damaged skin.  

Tretinoin binds with the retinoid receptors in your skin. In other words, it works by affecting the way skin cells grow and divide. 

Applying the cream to your skin helps unclog pores, reduce inflammation, stimulate collagen production, prevent collagen loss, and minimize pigmentation. This, in turn, helps clear up hormonal acne.

One study investigated the anti-inflammatory properties of Tretinoin. It concluded that the topical use of this cream, along with clindamycin, combines antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and comedolytic properties for treating different stages of acne. 

Many people swear by Tretinoin because, apart from treating hormonal acne, it reduces the signs of aging from sun exposure, including:

  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Uneven skin texture and dull skin tone
  • Dark spots and acne scars
  • Hyperpigmentation 

Is Tretinoin a Retinol?

If you go to the drugstore often, you must have come across several skincare products labeled “retinol.” 

Many people wonder if Tretinoin is also retinol, so I’m here to tell you the truth. 

Tretinoin is actually a retinoid.

Retinoid and retinol are vitamin A derivatives that are converted into retinoic acid. The difference lies in the formula’s strength – retinol is weaker than retinoids like Tretinoin, which is why it can easily be obtained without a prescription. For Tretinoin or products that contain tretinoin, you’ll need a prescription from a dermatologist and can expect greater effectiveness in return.

How Effective is Tretinoin for Hormonal Acne? 

Before I give my verdict on this, let’s get into the details of hormonal acne, so we know what we’re dealing with here. 

Technically, almost all acne is “hormonal.” However, hormonal acne usually refers to acne resulting from fluctuations in androgenic hormone production. 

Androgens or male sex hormones like testosterone stimulate sebum production in your body. In case of excessive sebum secretion, the oil can collect inside the hair follicles and clog your pores, resulting in acne breakouts. 

Another common cause of hormonal acne is the accumulation of dead skin cells on your skin. When these cells combine with sebum inside the pores, they result in partially blocked pores (blackheads) and completely blocked pores (whiteheads). 

These blocked pores eventually become inflamed or infected, leaving you with painful, uncomfortable, and unsightly acne lesions. 

Not to forget, the use of birth control devices like the Mirena IUD may also lead to hormonal changes in the body, resulting in acne breakouts. 

While hormonal acne knows no gender, it’s more common in women.  

You may become a victim before or during your period since this is when your testosterone level is the highest. 

How Tretinoin Cream for Acne Works

Tretinoin increases the skin cell turnover rate in your body. Therefore, you can have your body produce new skin cells and get rid of the dead ones faster than usual by using this cream regularly for a few months.  This will cause many people to have dry flaky skin, which can cause a lot of discomfort. To mitigate these negative side effects, you should use a non-comedogenic moisturizer to treat hormonal acne.  

This means you won’t have to worry about blocked pores caused by the accumulation of dead skin cells.

So, can you expect 100% effectiveness when using Tretinoin for hormonal acne? 

Well, not quite, since it doesn’t do anything to control sebum production in your body.   

You’ll likely have to use this cream in combination with another acne treatment if you have oily skin. Depending on your hormonal imbalance and acne condition, your dermatologist may recommend using Tretinoin with birth control pills or Spironolactone to keep androgen levels in check. 

Often, skin care specialists advise people to take antibiotics when using Tretinoin to get rid of the bacteria causing skin inflammation. This helps reduce the risk of skin infection and the spreading of acne. 

Does Tretinoin Help With Acne Scars?

Yes, it does!

You may use Tretinoin to reduce the appearance of acne scars. The speeding up of skin cell turnover can encourage new cell growth in the affected areas. 

Dermatologists also often recommend applying Tretinoin cream to prep the skin for chemical peel treatments aimed at removing acne scars.    

What about Tretinoin for Pitted Acne Scars?

Thanks to its highly potent formula, Tretinoin may help get rid of pitted acne scars as well!

A three-and-a-half-month study involving 38 participants with acne scarring (9 males and 29 females) aged between 16 and 29 confirmed the benefits of using Tretinoin for acne scars. The results showed that 79% of the participants witnessed the flattening of their acne scars when they used the cream consistently. It was seen that the cream worked best on younger acne scars as well as indented icepick scars. 

In another study, 94% of the participants reported a reduction in their acne scars’ depth after using Tretinoin cream with an iontophoresis device twice a week for three months. 

Does Tretinoin Help With Fungal Acne? 

Tretinoin may help with fungal acne as well. 

Research confirms that retinoids possess excellent antimicrobial properties against a wide range of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Tretinoin, being a retinoid, has high efficacy against fungal pathogens, including yeast fungi, such as Malassezia furfur, Candida spp., and Rhodotorula mucilaginosa, that usually colonize the skin. 

You can consult with your dermatologist regarding the use of Tretinoin for fungal acne to avoid any side effects. 

Tretinoin Side Effects

If you’re considering using Tretinoin to improve your skin, you must be aware of the potential side effects. This cream can cause some adverse reactions, ranging from mild to severe. 

However, not everybody experiences all of these side effects. 

Below are the potential Tretinoin side effects you should look out for. 

  • Itchiness 
  • Burning 
  • Dryness 
  • Peeling 
  • Redness
  • Skin turning a lighter color at the application site
  • Skin feeling warm to the touch

In some cases, Tretinoin can also cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. It is crucial to talk to your doctor about any side effects you may experience while using this cream. Important: Do NOT use Tretinoin for hormonal acne if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Tretinoin usually takes up to 12 weeks to show the desired results. 

When using this cream, you must limit your exposure to the sun. This is because it can make your skin thinner, making it extra vulnerable to skin damage. Because of this, you should use an acne-safe moisturizer to keep the skin barrier hydrated and healthy. Also make sure you discuss any other topical products you are using with your dermatologist, such as benzoyl peroxide. It’s also important to wear sunscreen whenever you head out, and consider wearing a hat and sunglasses when going out in the sun. 

If you experience a severe side effect like an allergic reaction after using Tretinoin for hormonal acne, discontinue use and reach out to your dermatologist right away.       

Pair Tretinoin with the MINDBODYSKIN – Hormonal Acne Supplement for Mind-blowing Results!

Hormonal acne is complex; effective treatment may require a combination of multiple products.  

If you want to get rid of hormonal acne fast, I highly recommend trying out the MINDBODYSKIN – Hormonal Acne Supplement alongside Tretinoin.  

This non-toxic supplement is packed with vitamin A, 5-HTP, glutathione, vitamin B5, and DIM. It is specially formulated to target the root causes of hormonal acne. It helps balance your hormones and calms and uplifts your skin to get rid of acne once and for all. 

I’ve talked to several users on our Facebook group and they love this product for the amazing things it does to their skin! 

And the best part is that it’s suitable for both men and women. People with PCOS, can use this supplement too to enjoy a significant reduction in breakouts!

With this product, you can achieve clear, smooth skin in 7-10 days. Sebum production in your body may also be controlled, and the redness will reduce significantly!

Final Words

As clinical trials have proved, using Tretinoin for hormonal acne is a great option. 

This cream is an effective long-term treatment for acne. You should be able to see the results in a few weeks. Just make sure you consult with your dermatologist before using it to avoid side effects.

People with hormonal acne also say that Tretinoin, when paired with the MINDBODYSKIN – Hormonal Acne Supplement, reveals clearer, smoother, and more beautiful skin. You’d want to try it yourself to see what it can do for you!   

Meanwhile, don’t forget that you can only maintain clear, healthy skin if you stick to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Products may come and go, but what you eat and how you live can have a lifelong impact on your skin health. 

Originally Published: February 20, 2022

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I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

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