What is tretinoin?

Tretinoin (all-trans retinoic acid) is a prescription treatment closely related to vitamin A.  

Why is tretinoin part of my treatment regimen?

Your genetic profile indicates a change in the cRABP2 gene, which oversees the transport of vitamin A into the cells. Higher levels of vitamin A are necessary when this genetic change is present. Trentoin has been shown to increase the cRABP2 protein increasing Vitamin A availability to the hair follicle.1  

Is topical tretinoin effective in alopeica?

Tretinoin has been shown to increase hair growth, anagen hair amount, hair diameter, and total hair count, especially when combined with minoxidil.1-3

Are there adverse effects while using topical tretinoin?

The application of tretinoin can cause redness, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, burning, pain, peeling, irritation, and dryness of the skin or scalp. Tretinoin is pregnancy category C and should not be used by reproductive-eligible females without reliable contraceptive use. 

Why do I need to keep taking Tretinoin?

Tretinoin should be used once a day as prescribed by your physician. Continuous use for four months is recommended before evaluating treatment response. Hair shedding may occur at the initiation of treatment as hair follicles are being stimulated to reenter the growth phase, but this frequently subsides within two months. Hair growth usually occurs within four to eight months and stabilizes over 12 to 18 months. Hair loss will occur over several months if treatment is stopped because of the nature of the hair growth cycle. Tretinoin is not a cure for hair loss; it is a treatment.

Active Ingredient Monograph: Tretinoin


  1. Bazzano GS, Terezakis N, Galen W. Topical tretinoin for hair growth promotion. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1986;15(4 Pt 2):880-893. doi:10.1016/s0190-9622(86)80024-x
  2. Sharma A, Goren A, Dhurat R, et al. Tretinoin enhances minoxidil response in androgenetic alopecia patients by upregulating follicular sulfotransferase enzymes. Dermatol Ther. 2019;32(3):e12915. doi:10.1111/dth.12915
  3. Shin HS, Won CH, Lee SH, Kwon OS, Kim KH, Eun HC. Efficacy of 5% minoxidil versus combined 5% minoxidil and 0.01% tretinoin for male pattern hair loss: a randomized, double-blind, comparative clinical trial. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2007;8(5):285-290. doi:10.2165/00128071-200708050-00003