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Dermatology/Retin A and sun damage

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Question
I am a 20 year old girl and I've been using Retin A over the past two or three years to treat my acne. However, I am really scared because I just realized that I didn't wear sunscreen a lot of the time when I went out. I'm not an outdoorsy person -- I don't usually spend hours and hours out in the sun. I don't go tanning and I don't play sports. (Nowadays, the majority of my outings are when I'm driving to and from work.) But last summer I went on a number of walks, like an hour or so, during the daytime without sunscreen.

I've heard that because the Retin A compromises your skin's melanin, that makes it extremely vulnerable to sunlight. Does this mean that my skin is badly damaged already?!?!?!!! Am I going to get nasty discoloration and wrinkles and age badly in years to come? If I start wearing sunscreen from now on, can I prevent these things from happening? Is it too late?

Answer
Retin A does not affect the melanin pigment in your skin. Retin A compacts your skin so the skin is not as thick so the sun can penetrate deeper in your skin. Changes in skin color can be postinflamatory hypopigmentation or hyperpientation. Your skin should recover over time but do wear sun screen.

Dermatology

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Michael S. Fisher, <B>Ph.D., M.D.</B>

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