It usually takes two to three weeks before an improvement in acne is seen in response to topical tretinoin. Sometimes, it can take as long as six weeks before a clinical effect is seen. Acne symptoms usually get worse before they get better after starting topical tretinoin.
Tretinoin helps with acne symptoms by unplugging pores. It also dries up the oils that clog the pores in the first place. It is most appropriate for acne that is not complicated by bacterial infections and inflammation.
Tretinoin comes in creams, gels and liquids, all of which are to be applied to the face. It is also called Retin-A or retinoic acid. Tretinoin can cause reddening, dryness and peeling of the skin.