Tazarotene (Tazorac) is a synthetic retinoid that is used as a topical treatment for certain types of skin disorders, including acne.

Topical retinoids are popular acne treatments that can help improve symptoms for many individuals. Tazarotene is a newer-generation topical retinoid that has a similar efficacy profile as older topical retinoids (eg. Tretinoin) but tends to have milder side effects. Adapalene is another newer-generation retinoid that is more popular than Tazarotene for the treatment of acne because Adapalene tends to be less expensive than Tazarotene and Adapalene is now available as an Over-The-Counter (OTC) medication.

Tazarotene is a moderately popular topical retinoid for the treatment of acne. Research studies have indicated that is has a similar effectiveness as Tretinoin and Adapalene. It also tends to be well tolerated by patients, with minimal side effects. Tazarotene can be a valuable treatment for individuals with any type of acne (Acne Types: 1-4). Many clinical research studies have shown that regular use of Tazarotene can improve acne symptoms. But clinical research and patient reports demonstrate that complete resolution of acne symptoms is rare when Tazarotene is used alone.

Tazarotene is frequently used in combination with complementary anti-acne medications, such as topical or oral antibiotics. These combinations can accelerate improvements in acne symptoms and improve the overall effectiveness of treatment. Tazarotene and other topical retinoids tend to be more effective for the treatment of mild acne (Acne Types: 1-2) and less effective for moderate and severe forms of the disease (Acne Types: 3-4).

Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A. Retinoids can help improve acne symptoms in several ways. Retinoids decrease the activity of the sebaceous glands, which decreases the production of sebum. The decrease in sebum in eliminates decreases the amount of nutrients that are available for acne-causing bacteria that live deep within hair follicles. Retinoids can also affect the growth and differentiation of skin cells, which can help reduce the formation of clogged pores (comedomes). Retinoids also have anti-inflammatory affects which may help improve acne symptoms.

Tazarotene works by entering target cells and binding to to specific receptors called Retinoic Acid Receptors that are in the nucleus of cells. Once the retinoid binds to these receptors it changes how the genes of that cell are expressed. These changes in gene expression are what give retinoids their anti-acne properties.

The most common side effect of treatment with Tazarotene is dryness of the skin. Tazarotene treatment decreases the production of sebum, and sebum is essential for moisturizing and protecting the skin. Tazarotene tends to have fewer and milder side effects than older topical retinoids, such as Tretinoin and Isotretinoin.

The most serious potential side effect of Tazarotene is a risk of birth defects. All retinoids are teratogens (compounds that can cause birth defects). However, several studies have indicated that there is minimal risk to the fetus from the topical use of retinoids, including Tazarotene. Nonetheless, the use of any type of retinoid is generally avoided in all women who are pregnant or may become pregnant during treatment.