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Combination of
Erythromycin Macrolide antibiotic
Tretinoin Retinoid
Clinical data
Routes of

Erythromycin/tretinoin (trade name 'Isotrexin') is a topical gel with two active ingredients: erythromycin 2% w/w and tretinoin 0.05% w/w with a primary indication for the treatment of moderate acne vulgaris.[1][2]

Tretinoin is a pharmaceutical form of retinoic acid (a metabolite of vitamin A). Its mechanism of action is believed to involve reduction in the amount of sebum produced by sebaceous glands on the skin's surface.

Erythromycin is a bacteriostatic macrolide antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, including the inhibition of bacteria linked with acne, such Propionibacterium acnes. The mechanism of action is poorly understood.

Side effects[edit]

Erythromycin/tretinoin may cause a number of side effects, ranging from very common to rare. Most side effects affect the skin and are have only a local effect to the place of application. Some of the side effects are related to Vitamin A toxicity. The following are adverse reactions obtained from Stiefel Laboratories' Isotrex product information as of February 2014:[1]

Very common (≥ 1/10) Common (≥ 1/100, < 1/10) Unknown frequency
Skin pain Dermatitis Allergic reaction
Rash Facial swelling
Xeroderma (dry skin) Hives
Prunitis (skin itching) Abdominal pain
Skin burning sensation Diarrhea
Erythematous (skin redness) Skin photosensitivity
Skin irritation Skin discoloration
Skin peeling or scaling


  1. ^ a b "Isotrexin® Gel (isotretinoin 0.05%/erythromycin 2%)" (PDF). Stiefel Laboratories Ltd. 
  2. ^ "Isotrexin gel (isotretinoin, erythromycin)". Netdoctor. 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2016-05-10.