Tazorac and Retin-A are both vitamin A-based drugs called retinoids. Retin-A is the name brand of a drug called tretinoin. Tazorac is the name brand for a drug called tazarotene. Retinoids can speed skin-cell turnover and boost collagen production.
Tazorac comes in a gel or a cream. Retin-A comes in cream, gel or liquid form. Both Tazorac and Retin-A require a doctor's prescription.
Both Retin-A and Tazorac can be used to treat acne. They both work by keeping pores clear, according to the Mayo Clinic. Many people who use Retin-A see an improvement in their acne in four to six weeks. Optimal benefits are usually seen after three months, according to Emory College in Atlanta, Georgia. People using Tazorac will see improvement in six to eight weeks, according to acneguide.com.
Both of these retinoids are used to treat photodamage including brown spots, fine wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, pore size and poor skin elasticity. With Retin-A, expect improvement after three to six months of regular use, and best results between six and 12 months. With Tazorac, people should see improvement in six to eight weeks of regular use. Continued use after this point will lead to more improvement, according to acneguide.com.
Tazorac can be used to treat psoriasis, according to the Mayo Clinic. The drug has anti-inflammatory properties, according to acneguide.com. Retin-A can be used to treat a skin disorder characterized by small, red bumps called keratosis follicularis, as well as flat warts.
Both of the drugs can cause a person's skin to be sensitive to the sun, severe dryness of the skin, redness, peeling skin and skin color changes. Both also can cause an initial acne flare-up that usually dissipates with further use, according to the Mayo Clinic and acneguide.com. Other side effects with Tazorac can include deep lines or grooves in the skin and pain or swelling of the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. Neither Tazorac nor Retin-A should be used by pregnant women.
A study published in the August 2000, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology concluded that applying Tazorac once a day is more effective than a daily application of Retin-A in reducing papules and open acne skin bumps. The drugs appeared equally effective against closed acne skin bumps, according to the study. The study also concluded that the drugs are tolerated equally well by people.