I’m 7 weeks into using 0.05% tretinoin for my mild adult acne. This week we have a juicy update because I’m experiencing a new level of “the tretinoin purge.” If you’ve been following along you’ll know the tretinoin purge begins around week 3 for me. But this week 7 purge is a bit different.
In this update, I’m going to talk about my experience with the tretinoin purge so far and how I’ve been dealing with purge pimples.
I’ve searched high and low for clinical information on “the tretinoin purge” but all I could find was anecdotal personal accounts on tretinoin forums (some of which are a little scary). But nothing clinical that could really explain what to expect. This might be because not everyone experiences the purge, and those who do, experience various severities.
The basics of “the purge” is your skin might get worse before it gets better. This is likely because tretinoin is helping to clear out your pores. So, this might result in new blemishes for roughly the first 6 weeks (of regular use).
Since trying tretinoin myself, my understanding of the purge has definitely expanded. I’ve personally found that there are a few levels to purging: a “surface purge” and a “deep skin purge.”
Around week 3 I had a lot of fast resolving pimples pop up which felt like a “surface purge.”
Now, during week 7, pimples are fewer in frequency but mightier in general. These pimples are far bigger and are coming from deep within the skin. Often these pimples never come to a head and would be considered “blind pimples.”
These are a little less notable than the surface level purges since they are below the skin. But, I definitely notice them as they are a little bit tender until they resolve.
While yes, I’ve been using tretinoin for 7 weeks, I wouldn’t say I’ve been using it regularly for 7 weeks. This is because I’ve got to account for the “acclimation” period where I was using tretinoin sparingly.
I’d say I started regularly using tretinoin around week 3 or 4. Until then I was taking things slow (as should everyone).
Now that I’ve been using tretinoin to some degree for 7 weeks, I use it about every other day or three days in a row with one day break in between.
When you try tretinoin for yourself, make sure to listen to your skin and take it as slow as you need to. I have pretty resilient skin, and wouldn’t classify my skin as sensitive.
Since starting tretinoin, I’ve had to be a little more careful with how I treat my breakouts. When I get a pimple I try not to poke and prod (unless it’s right on the surface, then it’s fair game.)
Acne report week 7: Blind pimple mania. At any given time this week, I had about 4 deep-seated “blind pimples.” Some of which came to a head eventually but others just resolved themselves.
Read more: How To Get Rid of Blind Pimples
Here are a few tips on how to take care of purge pimples while on tretinoin:
Prescription retinoids can feel a little daunting for newbies (and I understand). This is exactly why I’ve been writing weekly updates on my tretinoin experience -- so you know what to expect.
I’ve been using Strut Health’s anti-aging formula which is thoughtfully formulated with 0.05% tretinoin, hyaluronic acid, and skin-soothing niacinamide.
I am acne-prone and hoping to control breakouts, and brighten my skin and acne marks. If you are in a similar situation, keep up to date with the rest of the series:
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