Retinoic acid gradient visualized for the first time in an embryo

Researchers from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan report a new technique that allows them to visualize the distribution of retinoic acid in a live zebrafish embryo, in real-time. This technique enabled them to observe two concentration gradients going in opposing directions along the head-to-tail axis of the embryo, thus providing long-awaited evidence that retinoic acid is a morphogen.

A morphogen is a substance governing the pattern of tissue development in the process of morphogenesis, and the positions of the various specialized cell types within a tissue.

Since morphogens diffuse through the tissues of an embryo during early development, concentration gradients are set up. These gradients drive the process of differentiation of unspecialised (stem) cells into different cell types, ultimately forming all the tissues and organs of the body.

STRECTH-X: Tretinoin 0.1%

I’ve mentioned in my previous post that stretchmarks are quite difficult to treat. There are numerous products that claim to reduce and diminish stretchmarks, but the one product that I’ve had good experience with is this good old tretinoin.

This tretinoin 0.1% formulation is quite potent. Not all dermatologists carry this product. In my readings, though, this is one topical medication that effects some improvement on stretchmarks. 

As you may recall, tretinoin or retinoic acid is a derivative of vitamin A. As an anti-aging treatment, tretinoin works by increasing the activity of skin cells and decreasing their cell-to-cell cohesion, thereby providing a mild exfoliating action. This results in a smoother and younger complexion. On stretchmarks, however, the mechanism of action is yet to be elucidated. (If you want to read more about tretinoin as an anti-aging treatment, read HERE.)

Based on my experience, my post-pregnancy abdominal and thigh stretchmarks improved in size and texture after using tretinoin 0.1% cream (and lotion) after 6 months. A word of caution: after a week of using tretinoin, my abdomen itched like crazy!!! And it started some mild peeling action too. I stopped treatment for a week, then when I resumed, I applied a moisturizer on top of the tretinoin. 

Overall, I’m happy that there was some improvement, but it did not completely erase the stretchmarks. There are several procedures that are said to reduce the stretchmarks, and I’ll blog about that soon.

If you want to know more about stretchmarks, click HERE.

ADDICTED to Tretinoin

If there is one nightly topical regimen that I must, must apply, it is this! I am addicted to tretinoin 0.05% cream. 

Tretinoin, topical retinoic acid, is a derivative of vitamin A. It is often said to be the gold standard in anti-aging medicines and is a typical mainstay of acne treatments. Tretinoin works by increasing the activity of skin cells and decreasing their cell-to-cell cohesion, thereby providing a mild exfoliating action. This results in extrusion of black/whiteheads, smoother and younger complexion.

During the first 4 to 6 weeks of treatment, your black/whiteheads and acne may increase. This is because tretinoin is working to lift up the deep-seated impurities in the skin. So don’t fret and don’t stop the treatment. (Many people are often discouraged because of this effect.) It’s best to wait for at least 6 weeks before passing judgement on the efficacy of the medication. However, if you develop redness, rash and itch, visit your dermatologist ASAP!

Words of caution on using tretinoin: Always use sun protection! Tretinoin makes your skin thinner and also reacts with sunlight making your skin more prone to painful sunburn. Always ask your dermatologist before combining any other topical treatment! Tretinoin may also cause dryness of the skin, and other medications may aggravate this. And lastly, do not use tretinoin when you are pregnant or suspect to be pregnant. Although topical in nature, oral tretinoin is a teratogenic drug, and it’s best to stay on the safe side.

Going back to my experience, I first used a lower potency of tretinoin (0.025%) when I started making it a nightly regimen some years ago. I gradually increased the potency to 0.05%. (There is even a 1% potency, but will cause your skin to dry and itch so much!!!) Í also started with a solution-based retinoic acid, but it dried my skin too much, so I switched to a cream-based medication. For about 2 to 3 weeks, I saw evident flaking and peeling of my skin and a bit of chapping on my lips. Afterwards, my skin adjusted to the treatment, and I have been using it (cream-based) religiously ever since. I use it on my face and neck. Well, I also use other products at night aside from tretinoin, but I’ll get to that at a later post.

I wear a broad spectrum sunscreen every morning! I am currently using Hamilton Quadblock SPF110, because the summer sun and heat is scorching!!! I am also very cautious about using a parasol/umbrella whenever I have to walk under the sun. I have experienced a painful burn when I started using tretinoin when I was still in college. But that was entirely my fault :( I used it without prescription and advise from a dermatologist, so I ended up with a sunburn. Ouch!

The first tretinoin cream I have ever used is Retin-A. As I said, I didn’t use it right. The next product I’ve tried is Galderma Retacnyl. I used for months, and it made my shallow face scars hardly visible. My skin became smoother. Then I tried Avene Ystheal+ Emulsion Lotion. It has a very fine consistency, and I truly fell in love with this product. However, it is quite pricey. Right now, I am using my clinic’s tretinoin cream. Well, I have been using it for quite sometime now, and I am addicted to it! It’s easy on the pocket, and works beautifully.