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Retin-A for Age Spots

by
author image Claire McAdams
Based in Los Angeles, Claire McAdams has been writing professionally since 2006. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and also online at MaestroCompany.com and SoCal.com. She holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Belmont University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Political Science from King College.
Retin-A for Age Spots
Close-up of cosmetic cream Photo Credit Voyagerix/iStock/Getty Images

Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation initially introduced the topical medication Retin-A for use as an anti-wrinkle cream; however, dermatologists noticed that Retin-A had several anti-aging benefits, including the treatment of age spots, reports "The New York Times" website. In fact, Dr. Jeremy Shupack of the New York University School of Medicine says its effect on age spots is "more dramatic than the anti-wrinkling effect." The generic name for Retin-A is tretinoin, a derivative of vitamin A. It fades age spots by prohibiting the production of melanin, the skin's pigment.

Age Spots

Age spots frequently develop on older adults, although MayoClinic.com reports that younger people can get them, as well. Too much sun exposure can send the skin’s pigment-producing melanocytes into overdrive, causing them to pump out excessive amounts of pigment. These melanin deposits form into brown, black or gray oval or round skin lesions commonly called sun spots, age spots or liver spots—though they have nothing to do with liver function.

Retin-A for Age Spots

In 1992, Dr. John Vorhees of the University of Michigan Medical Center discovered that the popular wrinkle-reducer was an effective treatment for liver spots, as well. He and a team of researchers divided 58 patients with age spots into two groups. To one group, he applied the topical medication Retin-A to the patients’ age spots daily for 10 months. To the other group, he applied a placebo cream. For those receiving the medication, 80 percent of their age spots faded, and some disappeared entirely. The study was published in a February 1992 issue of the "New England Journal of Medicine" and reported on by "The New York Times."

Directions for Use

Since skin irritation can occur if you apply Retin-A to wet skin, always clean and dry your skin well before following with a thin layer of the medication. Wait at least one hour after your application before washing the treatment or applying additional skin care products. If you get Retin-A in your mouth, nose, eyes or on your lips, gently rinse with water. Don’t apply the medication if your skin is sunburned, chapped or irritated. You will need to use the cream daily for several months in order to generate results.

Side Effects

Some people do experience side effects while using Retin-A. Some of the more common reactions include stinging, peeling, dryness, redness and swelling. On rare occasions, however, Retin-A can induce an allergic reaction that produces such symptoms as hives, difficulty breathing or a swelling of the face, lips tongue or throat. If you experience these symptoms while using the medications, discontinue use, and contact your doctor immediately, advises Drugs.com.

Renova

Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation, the maker of Retin-A, produces another tretinoin topical medication that goes by the brand name Renova. Ortho Pharmaceutical promotes this topical medication for use as an age spot and wrinkle treatment, while it promotes Retin-A primarily as a treatment for acne. However, dermatologists can prescribe either medication for anti-aging purposes, notes Drugs.com.

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