Tazorac is a brand-name prescription medication that’s FDA-approved to treat certain forms of the following:

  • Plaque psoriasis. With this condition, scaly patches form on your skin. Plaque psoriasis is one of many kinds of psoriasis.
  • Acne. Another name for acne is “acne vulgaris.”

Tazorac comes as a cream and a gel.

Tazorac cream

Tazorac cream is approved to treat acne in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older. The cream form is also approved to treat plaque psoriasis in adults.

Tazorac cream is available in two strengths: 0.05% and 0.1%. Here’s what the different strengths of Tazorac cream are used for:

  • plaque psoriasis (0.05% and 0.1% strengths)
  • acne (0.1% strength only)

You’ll typically apply the cream to your skin once a day, in the evening.

Tazorac gel

Tazorac gel is approved to treat plaque psoriasis and acne in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older.

Tazorac gel is available in two strengths: 0.05% and 0.1%. Here’s what the different strengths of Tazorac gel are used for:

  • plaque psoriasis that affects 20% or less of your body surface area (0.05% and 0.1% strengths)
  • mild to moderate acne that affects your face (0.1% strength only)

You’ll typically apply the gel to your skin once a day, in the evening.

Tazorac active ingredient and drug type

Tazorac contains the active ingredient tazarotene. This means tazarotene is the ingredient that makes Tazorac work.

Tazorac is a type of drug called a retinoid. Retinoids are related to vitamin A.

Effectiveness

To read about the effectiveness of Tazorac, see the sections “Tazorac for acne” and “Other uses for Tazorac” below.

Tazorac is available as a generic drug called tazarotene. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The generic is considered to be as safe and effective as the original drug. Generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

In some cases, the brand-name drug and the generic version may come in different forms and strengths.

Tazorac contains the active drug tazarotene. Other brand-name drugs containing tazarotene are also available. Examples include Fabior and Arazlo.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Tazorac to treat certain conditions. Tazorac may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label use is when a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Tazorac 0.1% cream and 0.1% gel are FDA-approved to treat certain forms of acne vulgaris in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older. Acne vulgaris is the medical term for the skin condition that’s more commonly known as just acne. Tazorac 0.1% gel is used only for mild to moderate acne that affects your face.

Acne explained

Acne mainly affects your face, but it can also develop on your neck, back, chest, or shoulders. With acne, the pores in your skin become blocked by a buildup of skin cells and sebum (oil). This causes blackheads and whiteheads to develop.

The sebum can also build up in your pores, leading to inflamed (red and swollen) papules and pus-filled pimples. A papule is a type of small bump. In more severe cases, larger nodules or cysts can form under the skin.

Tazorac helps slow down the production of skin cells, so it helps stop your pores from getting clogged. The drug also reduces inflammation in your skin.

Effectiveness for acne

Researchers have looked at the effectiveness of Tazorac cream and gel in treating acne.

Studies of Tazorac cream

Tazorac cream was found to be effective for treating facial acne in two clinical studies. The drug reduced the number of inflammatory lesions (red and swollen spots, pimples, or cysts) and noninflammatory lesions (blackheads and whiteheads). In these studies, researchers compared Tazorac cream with a placebo cream (cream containing no active drug).

The results showed the following:

  • After 12 weeks of treatment, people who used Tazorac cream had, on average, 42% to 44% fewer acne lesions than before treatment.
  • By comparison, people who used the placebo cream had, on average, 21% to 24% fewer acne lesions than before treatment.

Of the people who used the Tazorac cream, 53% to 55% had no, minimal, or mild acne after 12 weeks of treatment. Of the people who used the placebo cream, 36% had this result.

Studies of Tazorac gel

Tazorac gel was also found to be effective for treating facial acne in two clinical studies. As with the cream, the gel reduced the number of inflammatory and noninflammatory acne lesions. In these studies, researchers compared Tazorac gel with a placebo gel (gel containing no active drug).

The results showed the following:

  • After 12 weeks of treatment, people who used the Tazorac gel had 45% to 52% fewer acne lesions than before treatment.
  • By comparison, people who used the placebo gel had 27% to 33% fewer acne lesions than before treatment.

Of the people who used Tazorac gel, 48% to 68% found that their acne eased by at least 50% after 12 weeks. Of the people who used placebo gel, 29% to 40% had this result.

In addition to treating acne (see the “Tazorac for acne” section right above), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Tazorac to treat plaque psoriasis.

Tazorac may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label use is when a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Tazorac for plaque psoriasis

Both strengths (0.05% and 0.1%) of Tazorac cream are FDA-approved to treat plaque psoriasis in adults.

Both strengths (0.05% and 0.1%) of Tazorac gel are FDA-approved to treat plaque psoriasis in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older. Tazorac gel is approved only for plaque psoriasis that affects 20% or less of your body surface area. If your psoriasis is more widespread than this, your doctor will typically prescribe Tazorac cream.

Plaque psoriasis explained

Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of an autoimmune condition known as psoriasis.

With plaque psoriasis, your immune system mistakenly attacks your skin cells. (Your immune system is your body’s defense against infection.) This causes your skin cells to be replaced too quickly. The skin cells build up on the surface of your skin, creating silvery and scaly patches called plaques.

The plaques are often itchy and inflamed. “Inflamed” means the plaques are swollen and can appear as purple or violet in darker skin tones and red in lighter skin tones. They typically develop on your elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp.

Tazorac helps slow down the production of skin cells. The drug reduces plaque formation, scaling, and inflammation in your skin.

Effectiveness for plaque psoriasis

Researchers have looked at the effectiveness of Tazorac cream and gel in treating plaque psoriasis.

Studies of Tazorac cream

Tazorac cream was found to be effective for treating plaque psoriasis in two clinical studies. The drug reduced the thickness of the psoriasis plaques, as well as redness and scaling.

In these studies, researchers compared Tazorac cream with a placebo cream (cream containing no active drug). They assessed how many people had clinical success with treatment. Clinical success was defined as having no, minimal, or mild psoriasis plaques.

After 12 weeks of treatment, clinical success was seen in:

  • 40% to 42% of people who used the Tazorac 0.05% cream
  • 39% to 51% of people who used the Tazorac 0.1% cream
  • 24% to 26% of people who used the placebo cream

In one of the studies, researchers also looked at how many people still had clinical success 12 weeks after stopping treatment. Clinical success was maintained in:

  • 33% of people who used the Tazorac 0.05% cream
  • 30% of people who used the Tazorac 0.1% cream
  • 22% of people who used the placebo cream

Studies of Tazorac gel

Tazorac gel was also found effective for treating plaque psoriasis in two clinical studies. Similar to Tazorac cream, the gel reduced the thickness of the psoriasis plaques, as well as redness and scaling. In these studies, researchers compared Tazorac gel with a placebo gel (gel containing no active drug).

After 12 weeks of treatment, psoriasis eased by at least 50% in:

  • 42% to 52% of people who used the Tazorac 0.05% gel
  • 52% to 65% of people who used the Tazorac 0.1% gel
  • 23% to 33% of people who used the placebo gel

Tazorac for other conditions

In addition to the uses listed above, Tazorac may be used off-label for other uses. Off-label drug use is when a drug that’s approved for one use is used for a different one that’s not approved. And you may wonder if Tazorac is used for certain other conditions. Below is information on other possible uses for Tazorac.

Tazorac for wrinkles and other anti-aging uses (off-label use)

Tazorac isn’t FDA-approved to treat wrinkles or for other anti-aging uses. However, another brand-name drug that contains tazarotene (the active drug in Tazorac) is approved for some of these purposes.

Studies have found that tazarotene can reduce fine wrinkles caused by sun damage. Other studies have also found that the drug can improve fine wrinkles, dark spots, skin roughness, and elasticity, and reduce pore size in sun-damaged skin.

In fact, a brand-name medication containing 0.1% of tazarotene, called Avage, is FDA-approved for some of these uses. Avage is approved to reduce fine facial wrinkles and certain types of dark or light spots on the face caused by sun damage. While you use Avage, you have to protect your skin from sunlight and follow a complete skin care routine that includes a moisturizer.

However, Avage and Tazorac don’t prevent wrinkles, help with deep wrinkles, or get rid of fine wrinkles completely. And the drugs don’t fully repair sun-damaged skin or reverse aging caused by excessive sun exposure.

If you’re interested in using Tazorac for fine wrinkles or certain skin problems due to sun damage, talk with your doctor.

Tazorac for acne scars (off-label use)

Acne can sometimes leave deep pitted scars. Tazorac isn’t FDA-approved for treating pitted acne scars. However, if Tazorac effectively treats your acne, this can help prevent acne scars from developing in the first place.

Tazorac may also be used off-label to treat acne scars. A small study found Tazorac 0.1% gel to be as effective as microneedling for improving the appearance of pitted acne scars. Microneedling is a treatment dermatologists use for various skin conditions.

Talk with your doctor if you’re interested in using Tazorac to treat acne scars.

Tazorac for scars (not a known use)

Tazorac hasn’t been studied for treating scars that aren’t related to acne. The drug isn’t FDA-approved for treating scars, and it’s not used off-label for this purpose.

Tazorac and children

Here’s some information about Tazorac use in children.

Tazorac cream and children

The 0.1% strength of Tazorac cream may be used to treat acne in children ages 12 years and older.

It’s not known if Tazorac cream is safe and effective for treating psoriasis in children younger than age 18 years.

Tazorac gel and children

The gel form of Tazorac is approved for use in children ages 12 years and older as follows:

  • The 0.1% strength of Tazorac gel may be used to treat mild to moderate acne affecting the face.
  • The 0.1% and 0.05% strengths of Tazorac gel may be used to treat plaque psoriasis affecting up to 20% of the body surface area.

You may wonder how Tazorac compares with other medications that are prescribed for similar uses. Here we look at how Tazorac and Retin-A are alike and different.

Ingredients

Tazorac contains tazarotene, while Retin-A contains tretinoin. Both Tazorac and Retin-A are retinoid medications. Retinoids are related to vitamin A.

Uses

Here’s some information about the uses of Tazorac and Retin-A.

Tazorac uses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Tazorac to treat certain forms of plaque psoriasis and acne.

Tazorac cream

Tazorac comes as a cream and a gel. Tazorac cream is approved to treat acne in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older. The cream form is also approved to treat plaque psoriasis in adults.

Tazorac cream is available in two strengths: 0.05% and 0.1%. Here’s what the different strengths of Tazorac cream are used for:

  • plaque psoriasis (0.05% and 0.1% strengths)
  • acne (0.1% strength only)

Tazorac gel

Tazorac gel is approved to treat plaque psoriasis and acne in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older.

Tazorac gel is available in two strengths: 0.05% and 0.1%. Here’s what the different strengths of Tazorac gel are used for:

  • plaque psoriasis that affects 20% or less of your body surface area (0.05% and 0.1% strengths)
  • mild to moderate acne that affects your face (0.1% strength only)

Retin-A use

Retin-A is FDA-approved to treat acne in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older.

Drug forms and administration

For information on the forms and strengths of Tazorac, see the “Tazorac uses” section right above.

Retin-A comes as a gel and a cream. The gel is available in two strengths: 0.025% and 0.1%. The cream is available in three strengths: 0.025%, 0.05%, and 0.1%.

Retin-A Micro is a gel that’s available in four strengths, 0.04%, 0.06%, 0.08%, and 0.1%.

Tazorac and Retin-A are each typically applied once a day, in the evening.

Side effects and risks

Tazorac and Retin-A both contain a retinoid drug. Therefore, these medications can cause very similar side effects, but some different ones as well. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

This list contains up to 10 of the most common mild side effects that can occur with both Tazorac and Retin-A (when used individually):

  • dry skin
  • itching
  • skin redness
  • skin that feels like it’s burning or stinging
  • peeling skin

Serious side effects

These lists contain examples of serious side effects that can occur with Tazorac, with Retin-A, or with both drugs (when used individually).

  • Can occur with Tazorac:
  • Can occur with Retin-A:
    • few unique serious side effects
  • Can occur with both Tazorac and Retin-A:
    • severe skin irritation
    • sensitivity to the sun and risk of sunburn

Effectiveness

Tazorac and Retin-A have different FDA-approved uses, but they’re both used to treat acne.

Tazorac and Retin-A were found to be similarly effective for treating acne in a recent review of studies.

Current guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology recommend both Tazorac and Retin-A as effective options for treating acne. Talk with your doctor about which one is right for you.

Costs

Tazorac and Retin-A are both brand-name drugs. Generic forms of both drugs are available:

  • Tazorac cream comes in a generic form called tazarotene.
  • Retin-A cream comes in a generic form called tretinoin.
  • Retin-A Micro gel comes in a generic form called tretinoin micro.

Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

According to estimates on GoodRx.com, the costs of Tazorac and Retin-A and their generic forms will vary depending on your treatment plan. The actual price you’ll pay also depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Like Retin-A (above), the drug Differin has uses similar to those of Tazorac. Here’s a comparison of how Tazorac and Differin are alike and different.

Ingredients

Tazorac contains tazarotene, while Differin contains adapalene. Both are retinoid medications. Retinoids are related to vitamin A.

Uses

Here’s some information about the uses of Tazorac and Differin.

Tazorac uses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Tazorac to treat certain forms of plaque psoriasis and acne.

Tazorac cream

Tazorac comes as a cream and a gel. Tazorac cream is approved to treat acne in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older. The cream form is also approved to treat plaque psoriasis in adults.

Tazorac cream is available in two strengths: 0.05% and 0.1%. Here’s what the different strengths of Tazorac cream are used for:

  • plaque psoriasis (0.05% and 0.1% strengths)
  • acne (0.1% strength only)

Tazorac gel

Tazorac gel is approved to treat plaque psoriasis and acne in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older.

Tazorac gel is available in two strengths: 0.05% and 0.1%. Here’s what the different strengths of Tazorac gel are used for:

  • plaque psoriasis that affects 20% or less of your body surface area (0.05% and 0.1% strengths)
  • mild to moderate acne that affects your face (0.1% strength only)

Differin use

Differin is FDA-approved to treat acne in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older.

Drug forms and administration

For information on the forms and strengths of Tazorac, see the “Tazorac uses” section right above.

Differin comes as a gel, cream, and lotion. These are all available in a strength of 0.1%. The gel is also available in a 0.3% strength.

You can buy the 0.1% strength of Differin gel over the counter without a prescription.

Tazorac and Differin are each typically applied once a day, in the evening.

Side effects and risks

Tazorac and Differin both contain a retinoid drug. Therefore, these medications can cause very similar side effects, but some different ones as well. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

This list contains up to 10 of the most common mild side effects that can occur with both Tazorac and Differin (when used individually):

  • dry skin
  • itching
  • skin redness
  • skin that feels like it’s burning or stinging
  • skin peeling

Serious side effects

This list contains examples of serious side effects that can occur with both Tazorac and Differin (when used individually):

Effectiveness

Tazorac and Differin have different FDA-approved uses, but they’re both used to treat acne.

A recent review of studies examined the use of topical (applied to the skin) retinoids in treating acne. The retinoids included Tazorac and Differin. The researchers didn’t find any major differences between the effectiveness of these drugs for treating acne. However, they did find that Differin was linked to less bothersome side effects than other retinoids, including Tazorac.

Current guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology recommend both Tazorac and Differin as effective options for treating acne. Talk with your doctor about which one is right for you.

Costs

Tazorac and Differin are both brand-name drugs. Generic forms of both drugs are available:

  • Tazorac cream comes in a generic form called tazarotene.
  • Differin cream and gel come in a generic form called adapalene.

Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

According to estimates on GoodRx.com, the costs of Tazorac and Differin and their generic forms will vary depending on your treatment plan. The actual price you’ll pay also depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Tazorac can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Tazorac. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

For more information on the possible side effects of Tazorac, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be bothersome.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to report to the FDA a side effect you’ve had with Tazorac, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects of Tazorac can include:*

  • dry skin
  • itching
  • skin redness
  • skin that feels like it’s burning or stinging
  • peeling skin

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* This is a partial list of mild side effects from Tazorac. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or visit Tazorac’s package instructions for the form of the drug you’re using: Tazorac gel or Tazorac cream.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Tazorac aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects, explained in more detail below in “Side effect details,” include:

Side effects in children

Children ages 12 years and older may have the same side effects as adults who use Tazorac, such as those listed above.

It’s not known if Tazorac is safe for use in children younger than age 12 years.

Side effect details

You may wonder how often certain side effects occur with this drug. Here’s some detail on several of the side effects this drug may cause.

Allergic skin reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after using Tazorac. It’s not known how often allergic reactions occur with Tazorac.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • hives (itchy welts on your skin)

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include hives around your throat or on your tongue, or trouble breathing along with hives. If you develop these symptoms while using Tazorac, call 911 or your local emergency number, or seek medical attention right away.

Skin irritation

Some skin irritation may occur while using Tazorac. In fact, skin irritation was the most common side effect of Tazorac in clinical studies of the gel and cream. It’s not known how often skin irritation occurred in people who took a placebo (treatment with no active drug).

In people with plaque psoriasis, up to 30% of those who used the 0.05% or 0.1% strength of Tazorac gel had some skin irritation. Up to 23% of those who used the 0.05% or 0.1% strength of Tazorac cream had some skin irritation.

In people with acne, up to 30% of those who used Tazorac 0.1% cream or Tazorac 0.1% gel had some skin irritation.

Skin irritation with higher strengths

Skin irritation in plaque psoriasis was more likely to occur with a higher strength of Tazorac:

  • Cream: Rates of skin irritation with the Tazorac 0.1% cream were 0.1% to 0.4% higher than with Tazorac 0.05% cream.
  • Gel: Rates of skin irritation with Tazorac 0.1% gel were 2% to 5% higher than with Tazorac 0.05% gel.

Symptoms of skin irritation

Symptoms of skin irritation with Tazorac may include:

  • itching
  • burning or stinging
  • redness
  • pain
  • rash
  • dryness
  • peeling
  • blistering
  • dermatitis (skin that’s dry, itchy, and swollen)
  • swelling
  • discoloration (skin that’s lighter or darker than usual)

What can worsen skin irritation

Skin irritation can be made worse by medications, cosmetics, and cosmetic treatments that have a drying or irritating effect on your skin. Talk with your doctor before using other medications on your skin while you’re using Tazorac. And avoid cosmetic treatments like waxing and chemical peels.

Cold weather and wind can also worsen skin irritation.

Talking with your doctor about skin irritation

If your skin gets irritated while using Tazorac, talk with your doctor. Depending on how bad the irritation is, they may recommend using Tazorac less often, such as every other day. Or your doctor may suggest that you stop treatment for a time. You can usually start using Tazorac once a day again when your skin irritation eases.

If your skin gets irritated while using Tazorac 0.1% for plaque psoriasis, tell your doctor. Tazorac 0.05% may be more suitable for you.

Sensitivity to the sun

Skin may become more sensitive to sunlight, sun lamps, and tanning beds while using Tazorac. This can raise your risk for getting a severe sunburn, particularly if you have fair skin.

It’s not known how often sun sensitivity occurs in people using Tazorac.

To protect your skin, you should avoid sunlight when possible. If you need to go out in the sun, wear a hat and clothes that cover your skin. Use sunscreen on skin that’s not protected by clothing. And don’t use sun lamps or tanning beds during your Tazorac treatment.

If you get a sunburn while using Tazorac, talk with your doctor about ways to soothe it. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t apply Tazorac to the sunburned area until your skin is fully healed.

You should use Tazorac according to your doctor’s or healthcare provider’s instructions.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re using Tazorac for plaque psoriasis:

  • If you’ve just showered or bathed, make sure your skin is dry before applying Tazorac.
  • If you’ve just used a moisturizer on your psoriasis plaques, wait at least 1 hour before applying Tazorac.
  • Apply Tazorac in a thin layer to your psoriasis plaques. Take care to avoid the surrounding skin. These areas are more likely to be irritated by the medication.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re using Tazorac for acne:

  • Gently wash and dry your face before applying Tazorac.
  • Apply Tazorac in a thin layer to the areas of skin affected by acne.

Be sure not to get Tazorac in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you accidentally get Tazorac in your eyes, rinse them well with water.

Wash your hands after applying Tazorac, unless you’re treating plaque psoriasis on your hands.

When to use

You’ll typically apply Tazorac once a day, in the evening.

However, if your skin gets very irritated during treatment, talk with your doctor. (Skin irritation may appear as skin peeling, redness, or discomfort.) You may need to use Tazorac less often or stop using it for a time. Your doctor may have you start using Tazorac once a day again when the irritation eases.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try setting a reminder on your phone. A medication timer may be useful, too.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Tazorac to treat certain forms of plaque psoriasis and acne.

What happens with plaque psoriasis

With plaque psoriasis, your immune system mistakenly attacks your skin cells. (Your immune system is your body’s defense against infection.) This causes your skin cells to be replaced too quickly. The skin cells build up on the surface of your skin, creating silvery and scaly patches called plaques.

The plaques are often itchy and inflamed. “Inflamed” means the plaques are swollen and can appear as purple or violet in darker skin tones and red in lighter skin tones. They typically develop on your elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp.

What happens with acne

With acne, the pores in your skin become blocked by a buildup of dead skin cells and sebum (oil). This causes blackheads and whiteheads to develop. The sebum can build up in your pores, leading to inflamed (red and swollen) papules and pus-filled pimples. A papule is a type of small bump.

The inflammation is made worse by a type of bacterium that’s linked to acne, called Propionibacterium acnes. The bacteria feed on the sebum and produce waste products that irritate and inflame the pores. In more severe cases, larger nodules or cysts can form under the skin.

What Tazorac does

Tazorac is a type of drug called a retinoid. It works by slowing down the production of skin cells. This helps stop dead skin cells from building up on the surface of your skin. Tazorac also reduces inflammation in the skin.

In acne, Tazorac helps stop your pores from becoming clogged. As a result, the drug reduces the formation of blackheads and whiteheads. Tazorac also helps keep red, swollen spots and pimples from forming.

In plaque psoriasis, Tazorac reduces the formation of psoriasis plaques. The drug also reduces the amount and severity of scaling and redness.

How long does it take to work?

Tazorac may start working in 1 to 2 weeks. But it typically takes longer than this before you start to see an improvement in your skin. It can take up 12 weeks of treatment for the drug to have its full effect.

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to use the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Drug forms and strengths

Tazorac comes as a cream and a gel. Both are available in two strengths: 0.05% and 0.1%.

For differences between the cream and gel forms, please see the “Common questions about Tazorac” section below.

Dosage for acne

The 0.1% strength of Tazorac cream is used for acne. The 0.1% strength of Tazorac gel is used for mild to moderate acne affecting the face.

To treat acne, you should apply a thin layer of Tazorac once a day, in the evening. Only apply Tazorac to the areas of skin affected by acne.

Dosage for plaque psoriasis

The 0.1% and 0.05% strengths of Tazorac cream are used for plaque psoriasis. The 0.1% and 0.05% strengths of Tazorac gel are used for plaque psoriasis affecting up to 20% of the body surface area.

For plaque psoriasis, you’ll typically start treatment with the 0.05% strength of Tazorac cream or gel. If your skin doesn’t improve enough with this strength of Tazorac, your doctor may recommend using the 0.1% strength of Tazorac cream or gel instead.

To treat psoriasis, you should apply a thin layer of Tazorac once a day, in the evening. Only apply Tazorac to the psoriasis plaques. Take care to avoid the surrounding areas of skin.

Pediatric dosage

Here’s some information about Tazorac use in children.

Tazorac cream and children

The 0.1% strength of Tazorac cream may be used to treat acne in children ages 12 years and older. The cream is used in the same dosage as for adults (see above).

It’s not known if Tazorac cream is safe and effective for treating psoriasis in children younger than age 18 years.

Tazorac gel and children

The gel form of Tazorac is approved for use in children ages 12 years and older as follows:

  • The 0.1% strength of Tazorac gel may be used to treat mild to moderate acne affecting the face.
  • The 0.1% and 0.05% strengths of Tazorac gel may be used to treat plaque psoriasis affecting up to 20% of the body surface area.

The gel is used in the same dosage as for adults (see above).

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss an application of Tazorac, just skip that dose, then follow your usual schedule. Don’t apply more Tazorac than usual to make up for a missed application. This could cause skin irritation.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try setting a reminder on your phone. A medication timer may be useful, too.

Will I need to use this drug long term?

Your doctor will typically prescribe Tazorac as a 12-week course of treatment.

However, if your plaque psoriasis or acne comes back after you stop using Tazorac, talk with your doctor. They can advise you on whether it’s appropriate to keep using medication for another 12 weeks. Tazorac has been used for up to 1 year to treat plaque psoriasis.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Tazorac.

What’s the difference between the two forms of Tazorac: cream vs. gel?

Tazorac gel is a clear, water-based gel. Tazorac cream is a white, oil-based cream. The gel is lighter and more easily absorbed than the cream. As a result, skin irritation is slightly more common with Tazorac gel. The cream may be more appropriate for treating skin that’s very dry or sensitive.

To find out which form of Tazorac may be right for you, talk with your doctor.

Is Tazorac a steroid?

No, Tazorac isn’t a steroid. It’s a type of drug called a retinoid, which is related to vitamin A.

Steroids are drugs that reduce inflammation (swelling and redness). They’re also known as corticosteroids. Topical corticosteroids are applied to the skin and come as creams, gels, and ointments. These medications are typically used to treat a type of skin condition called eczema, as well as skin allergies. But topical corticosteroids are also sometimes used for plaque psoriasis.

Examples of topical corticosteroids include:

Tazorac also reduces inflammation, but it works in a different way than steroids. The main action of Tazorac is to slow down the production of skin cells. Tazorac isn’t linked to the same side effects that steroids have, such as skin thinning.

Why do I need to protect myself from the sun while using Tazorac?

Tazorac can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. This means you’re more likely to get a sunburn while you’re using the drug. So it’s important to protect your skin from the sun to avoid getting a severe sunburn. Wear a hat with a brim and clothing that covers your skin. Also, apply sunscreen to skin that’s not covered by clothing.

Can I use Tazorac for eczema?

No, you shouldn’t use Tazorac for the skin condition known as eczema. Tazorac can cause severe skin irritation if you apply it to eczema.

If you have eczema, talk with your doctor about ways to treat it.

Tazorac is a topical (applied to the skin) retinoid drug for treating acne and plaque psoriasis.

Other drugs are available that can treat your condition. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Tazorac, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

Alternatives for acne

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat acne include:

  • topical dapsone (Aczone)
  • other topical retinoids, such as:
    • tazarotene (Fabior, Arazlo)
    • tretinoin (Avita, Renova, Retin-A, Altreno, Atralin)
    • adapalene (Differin)
    • adapalene/benzoyl peroxide (Epiduo, Epiduo Forte)
  • topical antibiotics, such as:
    • erythromycin (Erygel)
    • erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide (Benzamycin)
    • clindamycin/tretinoin (Veltin, Ziana)
    • clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide (Acanya, Benzaclin, Duac, Onexton)
  • antibiotics taken by mouth, such as:
    • tetracycline
  • birth control pills for women, such as:
    • drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol/levomefolate calcium (Beyaz)
    • drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol (Yaz)
    • ethinyl estradiol/norgestimate (Ortho Tri-Cyclen)

Alternatives for plaque psoriasis

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat plaque psoriasis include:

  • coal tar (Psoriatar, Scytera, Cutar, Eucutasol, others)
  • topical corticosteroids, such as:
    • fluocinolone (Synalar)
    • halobetasol/tazarotene (Duobrii)
  • topical vitamin D analogues (artificial forms of vitamin D), such as:
    • calcitriol (Vectical)
    • calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux)
    • calcipotriene/betamethasone (Enstilar, Taclonex)

Tazorac can cause birth defects if used during pregnancy. Don’t use Tazorac if you’re pregnant or think you could be.

Tazorac hasn’t been studied in pregnant women. However, drugs called retinoids are known to harm the fetus when used during pregnancy. Tazorac is a type of retinoid. Animal studies found that tazarotene (the active drug in Tazorac) caused fetal harm when it was used in pregnant females.

To make sure you’re not pregnant, your doctor will want you to have a pregnancy test within the 2-week time frame before you start using Tazorac. You should start Tazorac treatment during your period.

If you’re using Tazorac and think you could be pregnant, tell your doctor right away.

Tazorac can cause birth defects if used during pregnancy. If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, you should use effective birth control while you’re using Tazorac. Talk with your doctor about suitable methods of birth control.

For more information about taking Tazorac during pregnancy, see the “Tazorac and pregnancy” section above.

It’s not known if Tazorac passes into breast milk. If you’re breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using Tazorac.

Tazorac can interact with several other medications. Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase side effects or make them more severe.

Tazorac and other medications

Below are some medications that can interact with Tazorac. This section doesn’t contain all drugs that may interact with Tazorac.

Before using Tazorac, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Tazorac and medications that increase sensitivity to sunlight

Tazorac can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Several other medications can also have this effect. If you use Tazorac with one of them, you could be more at risk for getting a severe sunburn.

Examples of medications that can increase your risk for sunburn with Tazorac include:

  • thiazide diuretics, such as bendroflumethiazide (Corzide)
  • tetracycline antibiotics, such as doxycycline (Vibramycin, Acticlate, Doryx) and minocycline (Solodyn, Minolira, Ximino, others)
  • fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • sulfonamide antibiotics, such as sulfamethoxazole (Septra, Bactrim, others)
  • phenothiazines, such as promethazine (Promethegan) or prochlorperazine (Procomp)

If you use one of these medications with Tazorac, take extra care to protect your skin from sunlight. If you need to go out in the sun, wear a hat and clothes that cover your skin. And apply sunscreen to skin that’s not covered with clothing.

Tazorac and medications that cause dry skin

Tazorac can cause skin irritation and dryness. If you use Tazorac with other medications that have this effect, your skin may become very dry and irritated.

Examples of medications that can increase your risk for skin irritation and dryness with Tazorac include:

  • benzoyl peroxide
  • coal tar (Psoriatar, Scytera, Cutar, Eucutasol, others)
  • salicylic acid
  • calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux)

If you’re using Tazorac, talk with your doctor before trying any medications that contain these ingredients.

Tazorac and herbs and supplements

There aren’t any herbs or supplements that have been specifically reported to interact with Tazorac. However, you should still check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these products with Tazorac.

Tazorac and foods

There aren’t any foods that have been specifically reported to interact with Tazorac. If you have any questions about eating certain foods with Tazorac, talk with your doctor.

Tazorac isn’t known to interact with alcohol.

However, drinking alcohol can trigger psoriasis flare-ups in some people. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, treatment for psoriasis may be less effective if you regularly drink alcohol.

It’s also possible that drinking alcohol could play a part in triggering acne breakouts. Alcoholic drinks are typically high in sugar and can cause your blood sugar to rise quickly. Blood sugar spikes can lead to:

All these factors can cause and worsen acne.

Some research has found that acne improves in people who follow a low glycemic-index diet. This type of diet involves eliminating foods and drinks that cause your blood sugar to rise quickly, including sugary drinks.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how this may affect your skin. Avoid alcohol if it causes your skin condition to flare up.

As with all medications, the cost of Tazorac can vary.

The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Before approving coverage for Tazorac, your insurance company may require you to get prior authorization. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the prior authorization request and decide if the drug will be covered.

If you’re not sure if you’ll need to get prior authorization for Tazorac, contact your insurance plan.

Financial and insurance assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Tazorac, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available.

Almirall, the manufacturer of Tazorac, offers the Almirall Advantage co-pay card. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible for support, call 888-591-9860 or visit the program website.

Generic version

Tazorac cream is available in a generic form called tazarotene. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The generic is considered to be as safe and effective as the original drug. And generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs. To find out how the cost of tazarotene compares with the cost of Tazorac, visit GoodRx.com.

If your doctor has prescribed Tazorac and you’re interested in using tazarotene instead, talk with them. Your doctor may have a preference for one version or the other. You’ll also need to check your insurance plan, as it may only cover one or the other.

This drug comes with several precautions. Before using Tazorac, talk with your doctor about your health history. Tazorac may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:

  • Eczema. Don’t use Tazorac on areas of skin where you have eczema. Tazorac can cause severe irritation to skin affected by eczema.
  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Tazorac or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t use Tazorac. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
  • Pregnancy. Tazorac can cause birth defects if used during pregnancy. Don’t use Tazorac if you are pregnant, or think you could be. For more information, please see the “Tazorac and pregnancy” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. It’s not known if Tazorac passes into breast milk. For more information, please see the “Tazorac and breastfeeding” section above.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Tazorac, see the “Tazorac side effects” section above.

Applying large amounts of Tazorac, or using it more often than recommended, can lead to severe skin irritation.

Don’t use more Tazorac than your doctor recommends.

What to do in case of overdose

If you think you’ve used too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use their online tool. But if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

When you get Tazorac from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on the package. This date is typically 1 year from the date they dispensed the medication.

The expiration date helps guarantee that the medication is effective during this time. The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid using expired medications. If you have unused medication that has gone past the expiration date, talk to your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to use it.

Storage

How long a medication remains good can depend on many factors, including how and where you store the medication.

You should store Tazorac cream and gel at room temperature (68°F to 77°F/20°C to 25°C). Keep the cap tightly closed.

Disposal

If you no longer need to take Tazorac and have leftover medication, it’s important to dispose of it safely. This helps prevent others, including children and pets, from taking the drug by accident. It also helps keep the drug from harming the environment.

This article provides several useful tips on medication disposal. You can also ask your pharmacist for information on how to dispose of your medication.

The following information is provided for clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

Indications

Tazorac cream is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat:

  • plaque psoriasis (0.1% and 0.05% cream), for use in adults
  • acne vulgaris (0.1% cream only), for use in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older

Tazorac gel is FDA-approved to treat:

  • plaque psoriasis affecting up to 20% of the body surface area (0.1% and 0.05% gel), for use in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older
  • mild to moderate acne vulgaris affecting the face (0.1% gel only), for use in adults as well as children ages 12 years and older

Administration

Tazorac should be applied in a thin layer to affected areas of skin only once daily in the evening.

Mechanism of action

Tazorac contains tazarotene, a prodrug of tazarotenic acid. Tazarotenic acid is a retinoid that binds to retinoic acid receptors (RAR) alpha, beta, and gamma. It binds more selectively to RAR alpha and gamma.

The exact effect of this interaction is not fully understood. However, Tazorac reduces the proliferation of keratinocytes, thereby also reducing the inflammatory mediators produced by these cells.

Acne is caused by a combination of factors. The sebaceous follicles become blocked as a result of abnormal desquamation. A buildup of sebum in the follicles leads to proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes. Waste products produced by these bacteria irritate and further inflame the sebaceous follicles.

Tazorac normalizes desquamation by reducing the production of keratinocytes. This allows comedones to break down, and helps prevent further formation of comedones. It also helps reduce inflammation.

Psoriasis is caused by an autoimmune attack on the skin cells. This causes skin cells to be replaced too quickly, resulting in the formation of psoriasis plaques. By reducing production of keratinocytes, Tazorac reduces plaque formation and inflammation.

Pharmacokinetics and metabolism

Tazarotene is hydrolyzed by esterases to its active form, tazarotenic acid. This active metabolite is more than 99% protein-bound. It is further metabolized and excreted in the urine and feces. After application to skin that is healthy, or has acne or psoriasis, tazarotenic acid has a terminal half-life of approximately 18 hours.

Systemic exposure is minimal, but it is higher with the 0.1% strength of Tazorac, with the gel formulation, and when applied to larger areas of skin.

Contraindications

Tazorac is contraindicated in:

  • pregnant women
  • people known to be hypersensitive to any of the ingredients

Storage

Store Tazorac at room temperature (68°F to 77°F/20°C to 25°C).

For the gel form, deviations are allowed from 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C). For the cream form, deviations are allowed from 23°F to 86°F (-5°C to 30°C).

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.