Betarretin H Cream: Uses, Side Effects, Warnings

Betarretin H is a topical cream containing retinoic acid and hydroquinone as active ingredients. It is used in the treatment of acne pigmentation, hyperpigmentation caused by hormonal disorders, sun exposure or ultraviolet radiation.

Retinoic acid enhances skin-lightening capabilities of hydroquinone by facilitating desquamation which leads to increase penetration of hydroquinone. Retinol in combination with hydroquinone, has been shown to have comparable skin lightening effects to tretinoin 0.05% applied nightly.

What should you tell your doctor before using Betarretin H?

Talk to you doctor or dermatologist about the specifics of your skin condition. Ask about the different options available to you.

Other things to mention when you talk with your doctor are:

  • Pregnancy. There haven’t been enough controlled studies yet to evaluate Betarretin H’s safety during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, or plan to be, discuss the potential harms and benefits so you can make an informed decision.
  • Breastfeeding. It’s not clear whether Betarretin H can pass through breast milk.
  • Sun exposure. Tell your doctor if your job requires you to spend a lot of time in the sun.
  • Medications. List all the medications you’re currently taking, including anything you put on your skin. It’s important for your doctor to know if there could be any interactions with Betarretin H.

If your doctor or dermatologist thinks that Betarretin H is right for you, make sure you know how it should be used, how long it will take to know if it’s working, and signs that you should stop using it.

Historically, there’s been some back-and-forth on the safety of hydroquinone. In 1982, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognized the ingredient as safe and effective.

Several years later, concerns about safety prompted retailers to pull hydroquinone from the market. The FDA went on to discover that many of the products in question contained contaminants like mercury. They established that these contaminants were behind reports of adverse effects. Since then, the FDA has confirmed that hydroquinone can be safely sold over the counter (OTC) in 2 percent concentrations.

How to apply Betarretin H on your skin

Before you apply Betarretin H, make sure your face is clean. Remove all makeup and wash your face. Be gentle. Excessive washing and scrubbing can cause irritation.

Once you’ve washed and dried your face, wait 20 to 30 minutes before applying Betarretin H.

Steps for applying Betarretin H

1.       Apply once a day, preferably before bed.

2.       Squeeze about half an inch or less of the cream or gel onto your fingertips.

3.       Gently apply to the specific areas on your skin where you need it to work.

4.       The medication should fade into your skin right away. If it doesn’t, try using a little less the next day.

5.       Keep in mind that using a larger amount of Betarretin H or using it more often won’t make it work faster. In fact, it could cause skin irritation. Betarretin H is for topical use only.

What are the side effects of Betarretin H?

Despite its effectiveness, Betarretin H can have side effects, such as:

  • red, dry, or peeling skin
  • burning or itching near the application site
  • skin that feels warm to the touch
  • lightening of the skin at the application site

In rare cases, hydroquinone has caused a condition called ochronosis. It’s marked by papules and bluish-black pigmentation. This can occur after prolonged daily use. As such, you shouldn’t use products with this ingredient for more than five months at a time.

Betarretin H and other retinoids can also thin the skin’s outer layer, leaving it more vulnerable to sun damage.

Healthcare professionals recommend people using retinoids wear sunscreen whenever they go outside.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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