Vitamin A and Acne

Vitamin A and Acne | Pimples. - Acne and Skin Care Blog by YoDerm

Vitamin A and Acne

The acidic form of vitamin A is retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is the active ingredient in the most effective acne treatments available: retinoids. Retinoids come in topical form (tretinoin, adapalene, and others) as well as a pill (isotretinoin also known as Accutane). For those with very mild acne, medications without retinoic acid (Vitamin A) can be effective. However for most acne sufferers, the best way to get clear includes a combination of treatments, always including a retinoid medication.

Topical Retinoids:

Topical retinoids are a cream, gel, or foam that use retinoic acid as their active ingredient. The three primary kinds of topical retinoids are:

  • Adapalene
  • Tazarotene
  • Tretinoin

These creams clear you skin by normalizing the shedding and maturing of your skin cells, a process called desquamation. They speed up the turnover of your skin cells, allowing your epidermis to shed dead cells quicker. This reduces the likelihood of your pores getting clogged, and consequently minimizing your breakouts. For more information on topical retinoids, click here.

Topical retinoids are most effective when combined with an antimicrobial treatment, like benzoyl peroxide or antibiotics. The only way to get topical retinoids is with a prescription from a doctor, most beneficially from a dermatologist.

Oral Retinoids:

Isotretinoin, commonly referred to as Accutane, is widely considered the closest thing to a cure for acne. It’s active ingredient is also vitamin A or retinoic acid. Oral retinoids also help normalize your skins shedding process, but it also works to suppress the oil producing glands in your skin. Isotretinoin is the only medication that regulates your oil production, which is the root cause of acne. The downside to Accutane is that it can have harmful side effects, especially to pregnant and breast feeding women. Click here for more information on oral retinoids.

Retinoids are the very best treatment available for acne. If you’re serious about curbing your breakouts, they are probably your best option. Consult with a dermatologist to get a prescription for either topical or oral retinoids.


  1. Keller, K., and N. Fenske. “Uses of Vitamins A, C, and E and Related Compounds in Dermatology: A Review?, ??.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 39.4 (1998): 611-25. Web. <>.
  2. Berson, D., and A. Shalita. “The Treatment of Acne: The Role of Combination Therapies.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 32.5 (1995): S31-41. Web. <>.
  3. Ellis, C. “Uses and Complications of Isotretinoin Therapy.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 45.5 (2001): S150-157. Web. <>.


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