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Retin-A & Pores

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Retin-A & Pores
Retin-A can reduce clogged pores. Photo Credit: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Retin-A is a medication that is derived from vitamin A. The active ingredient is tretinoin and is available by prescription. Retin-A is used to treat skin conditions including acne, wrinkles or dark spots, according to Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery. When applied regularly, Retin-A may help to improve these conditions.

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When applied in a thin layer to the skin, Retin-A works to unplug clogged pores in the skin. This can help to reduce acne breakouts, which result when the pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. In addition to pore exfoliation, Retin-A can stimulate the growth of new collagen cells. Collagen gives structure to the skin—without it, your skin appears wrinkled.


Retin-A should be applied to clean skin, according to Dr. Audrey Kunin writing on DERMA Doctor, a skincare resource website. Wait between 20 to 30 minutes, then apply a thin layer of Retin-A. A pea-sized amount should be sufficient when you are initially applying. Be sure to apply to all affected areas, especially where pores are clogged. You also should apply only every other night. Be sure to keep the product away from your eyes and wash your hands after using.

Side Effects

When first applying Retin-A to the skin, you may find your pores become irritated. This is because the pores are becoming acclimated to the Retin-A application. Other side effects may include redness, tenderness, dryness and swelling. These side effects should subside with time. Because your skin also may become more sun sensitive, you should apply sunscreen prior to going outdoors.


Retin-A is available in a variety of formats to shrink pores. These include gel- or cream-based options, according to The medication also is available as Retin-A Micro Gel, which is a variation designed to be less drying to the pores than Retin-A.


While Retin-A should improve clogged pores, in some instances, the product can cause adverse reactions in sensitive skin, according to the Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery. If you experience skin blistering, redness or excessive dryness after applying, cease using Retin-A. If your skin irritation is mild, yet does not reduce after two weeks, notify your physician, who may prescribe a form that is less irritating to the pores.

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