isotretinoin and tretinoin: what’s the difference?


Does anyone know what the difference is between isotretinoin and tretinoin? I mean do these agents work in the same way when treating acne?


Related Acne Archive Posts & Questions

9 thoughts on “isotretinoin and tretinoin: what’s the difference?

  1. umm as far as i know isotretinoin is internal, while tretinoin is applied topically (isotretinoin is accutane)

  2. hmm i’m sorry i have no clue then! i’d would check on the internet for you, but i’m about to head out for extra physics help lol. umm i took accutane and i remember it saying Accutane (Isotretinoin)

    i’m sure wallyejones would know!

  3. I posted this in another thread but since you asked, here is the post again:

    Retin-A, and Retin-A micro gel plus the other true and synthetic forms of Retinoic Acid are applied topically to stop acne, remove scar tissue through flaking of the surface skin, and also encourage faster collagen replacement under the surface of the skin. Retinoic Acid works on both the surface of the skin and deep inside the layers of the skin to change the actual structure of the skin.

    Retin-A is Tretinoin while Isotretinoin is synthetic Tretinoin, all come from Retinoic Acid or are synthesized to be the same chemically as Retinoic Acid, plus Accutane and Roaccutane are formulated from Retinoic Acid, which is derived from Vitamin A. The name of the product just depends on what country you live in for the particular product name to be available for you to purchase. All are forms of Retinoic Acid in either the topical form or the systemic form, and all work in or on the body in the same way. The cautions are the same too for the topical and the systemic forms of Retinoic Acid. Wither synthetic or ‘true’ all are Retinoic Acid.

    Please read the complete links as well as the commentary I have provided below.

    Tretinoin (Retin-A) and Isotretinoin (Isotrex gel), are just two of the TOPICALS that are available, there are other topicals from the same chemical, while Accutane is the SYSTEMIC (oral) version of the same chemical derived from Vitamin A. I don’t mind going through this exercise AGAIN with you, Luvhause, as we do have new posters to this board who may not understand how Accutane, Retin-A, Retin-A gel, Isotretinoin, Isotrex gel, and Roaccutane, plus several other forms of Retinoic Acid are all related because they are all Retinoic Acid, either natural or synthetic.

    Isotretinoin (Accutane) — Oral agent that treats serious dermatologic conditions. Isotretinoin is the synthetic 13-cis isomer of the naturally occurring tretinoin (trans-retinoic acid). Both agents are structurally related to vitamin A.

    The above site is probably the best site for anyone who is considering using a Retinoic Acid product for their skin to either eliminate acne or to reduce/remove scar tissue. I highly recommend that everyone do a read-through of this web site from emedicine.

    Topical Retinoids

    The group of medicines known as retinoids are derived from Vitamin A. Creams containing the retinoids retinol and retinaldehyde can be obtained over the counter at pharmacies and supermarkets. Other topical retinoids containing tretinoin or isotretinoin require a doctor’s prescription. Adapalene is a related prescription medicine.
    Topical retinoids can be applied to any area but are most often used on the face, the neck and the back of hands.
    There are many brand name face creams that contain retinol or retinaldehyde, which are quite well tolerated and may help improve the appearance of aging skin. The trade names of the more potent topical retinoids available on prescription in New Zealand are:
    · Retin-A Cream (tretinoin)
    · Isotrex Gel (isotretinoin)
    · Differin Gel, Cream (adapelene)
    · Retinova Cream (tretinoin emollient), specially formulated for ageing skin.

    Isotrex Gel is the TRADE NAME for Isotretinoin, which is a synthetic , and is chemically the same as Tretinoin while Tretinoin is the name that Retin-A is marketed under, in the United States. Both are Retinoic Acid and are topicals while Accutane is the systemic.

    Isotretinoin is an isomer of tretinoin


    Topical Isotretinoin is Isotrex gel plus Isotretinoin is also used as the synthetic systematic, oral Accutane which is sometimes administered in place of Roaccutane. Roaccutane is true Accutane but is just the name used in Europe for what we call Accutane in the U.S. In the U.S. we have Accutane as the ‘true’ retinoid for oral administration and we have several creams that are topical Accutane among these creams is Retin-A. We also have the micro gel form as a topical, which is true Retinoic acid but is time released, and often prefered by people who have active acne. I believe that the micro gel form of Retin-A is also available in Europe.

    Metabolism: After oral administration of isotretinoin, 4- oxo -isotretinoin is the major metabolite identified in the blood. Maximum concentrations of 4- oxo -isotretinoin (87 to 399 ng/mL) were achieved at 6 to 20 hours after oral administration of two 40-mg capsules; the blood concentration of the major metabolite generally exceeded that of isotretinoin after 6 hours. Isotretinoin also undergoes isomerization to the all-trans-isomer, tretinoin, which is then metabolized to its corresponding 4- oxo -metabolite; both have been detected. Both parent compound and metabolites are further metabolized into conjugates which are excreted.

    Here in the above link to a Mexican pharmacy; synthetic Isotretinoin is the preferred form of oral, systemic Retinoic Acid that is dispensed here. True oral, systemic Retinoic Acid would be called Accutane or Roaccutane as it is called in Europe. We already know, from reading, that Isotretinoin is a synthetic Tretinoin perhaps that is why this pharmacy uses it for the oral administration as it is most likely much cheaper to use than the ‘real thing.’
    BRAND NAMES also play a part in the naming of this chemical that we know in the United States as Accutane for the systemic oral, and as Retin-A or Retin-A micro gel for the topical. We also have versions of Retin-A that are synthetic, and at least one brand that I have read about that has an antibiotic included in with the topical product.

    Accutane (isotretinoin) is the 13-cis isomer of tretinoin, the naturally occurring form of retinoic acid. It is used for the treatment of severe, recalcitrant cystic acne. Accutane has been described as one of the most potent teratogens known to man and its teratogenicity has been well documented in both human and animal studies.

    Retin-A is topical, true Retinoic Acid; Accutane is the oral, true Retinoic Acid; and both are the common forms available in the U.S.
    Retin-A is also available in the U.K.
    Isotrex gel is a synthetic, topical retinoid; Isotretinoin is the synthetic oral retinoid that is related to Isotrex; and both are available in Europe and I believe in the rest of the world.
    Roaccutane is true Retinoic acid, and is the same as Accutane. Roaccutane is available in Europe and in the rest of the world.


  4. accutane is a pill

    tretinoin is the chemical in it, it can be taken both internally and topically

Comments are closed.