A status report on topical tazarotene in the management of acne vulgaris

J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 Mar;12(3):s53-8.


Tazarotene is a synthetic retinoid that, depending on the concentration and vehicle, is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the topical treatment of acne vulgaris (AV) and plaque psoriasis. Tazarotene is also used as adjunctive treatment for specified clinical manifestations of chronically photodamaged skin (facial fine wrinkling, mottled facial hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation, and benign facial lentigines), along with comprehensive skin care and photoprotection from sunlight. The gel formulation was released in the United States in 1997, with the cream formulation made available in 2000. Multiple studies are available supporting the effective and safe use of topical tazarotene for each of its indications. This article provides an overview of the pharmacology of topically applied tazarotene, discussing in particular up-to-date information on the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of topical tazarotene for AV, including monotherapy and combination therapy studies. Topical tazarotene 0.1% in both formulations is highly effective in reducing both inflammatory and noninflammatory acne lesions, and can be used in combination with other topical agents, including formulations containing benzoyl peroxide or dapsone 5% gel. Although many patients tolerate the use of topical tazarotene without significant issues or concerns, some patients experience application-site tolerability reactions, which can usually be managed with proper skin care and are less frequent with the cream formulation.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology
  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Animals
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Approval
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Gels
  • Humans
  • Nicotinic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Nicotinic Acids / adverse effects
  • Nicotinic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Gels
  • Nicotinic Acids
  • tazarotene