Stieva-A Cream Australia

Learn everything about Stieva-A cream, use case and why it needs a doctor's prescription when so many other skin treatments don't.

Written by
Sophie Overett
Medically reviewed by
Dr Claudia Xiao
min read
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When starting to explore the world of skincare products, it can be hard to differentiate between your serums and your solutions, your topical treatments and your over-the-counter options.

Sometimes it can feel like you need a degree to even try to decipher the list of ingredients on the back of a box, much less understand what they're going to do for (or to) your skin.

Stieva-A cream can sometimes feel particularly hard to get. After all, this prescription-only medicine might be talked about a lot on skincare blogs and Facebook groups, but spying its box over a pharmacist's shoulder doesn't exactly make it feel like an accessible treatment.

So what is Stieva-A cream, what do you use it for, and why does it need a doctor's prescription when so many other skin treatments don't?

What is Stieva-A Cream used for?

Stieva-A cream is a prescribed medicine used to treat acne [1].

Due to its effective ingredients, it's been a mainstay of dermatology treatments for a number of years and is known for its ability to combat oily skin, loosen blackheads and whiteheads, stop new pimples from forming and lower the number of red spots and inflamed skin [1].

What is the active ingredient in Stieva-a cream?

While Stieva-A cream has a number of ingredients, the active ingredient, tretinoin, is the star of this effective treatment. Tretinoin belongs to a family of medicines called retinoids and has been used to treat mild to moderate acne since the 1960s.

It can be used as a stand-alone treatment or alongside antibacterials and other medicines and it works by stimulating the growth of new cells, unclogging pores and promoting the normal flow of sebum (oil) [2].

More recent research has also shown that tretinoin has rich anti-inflammatory properties, and can be particularly useful in reducing the redness and swelling around both large and tiny pimples in sensitive skin [2].

How long does Stieva take to work?

Like any medical and cosmetic treatment, how long Stieva-A cream takes to work will depend on a multitude of factors ranging from the severity of your acne, your genetics and your lifestyle.

But, according to consumer medicine information, Stieva-A cream takes between 6 and 8 weeks to start showing real results when it comes to treating acne [1].

What are the side effects?

As with many topical creams used to treat acne, Stieva-A cream can have numerous side effects depending on your particular body and lifestyle. The most commonly reported of these are:

  • Skin redness, flaking and skin irritation
  • Pain, itching and tenderness
  • Stinging dry skin or a burning sensation when first applied

This could simply be an adjustment to the prescription medication, so monitoring these skin reactions is crucial.

There are also some rarer side effects that can occur. These include:

  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Both dark and fair skin lightening or darkening
  • Rash forming at the site of application
  • Skin thinning
  • Allergic reaction

An allergic reaction could include any combination of wheezing, swelling of the lips or mouth, difficulty in breathing, hay fever, lumpy rash or hives, or fainting. If you develop any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

It's also important to note that you should not use Stieva-A cream if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant or if you're breastfeeding as it can impact your breast milk.

Those with skin cancer should also avoid this medication. If any of these factors apply to you, you should consult with your doctor.

How to apply Stieva-A cream

As Stieva-A cream requires a valid Australian prescription, your practitioner will give you directions as to how to use it best for your skin, and how long to use it for, but there are some steps that are universal.

  1. Use it only once daily at nighttime, and ensure you use it over the whole affected skin area — in other words, don't use it as a spot treatment, use it as a topical one
  2. Before you use it, make sure to wash your hands and completely remove any makeup with a gentle cleanser
  3. Gently dry your skin with a clean towel or cloth
  4. Apply a thin film of the cream onto the affected area and the skin around it, using your fingertips to smooth it in — be mindful of your eyes and mouth and any areas where you might not want the cream
  5. Wash your hands after using the cream

It's worth remembering that using too much cream or applying it more often in a double dose won't help your skin clear faster, and in fact, it can even lead to inflamed acne spots, redness, pain, peeling and discomfort.

If this happens to you, you may need to take a break from using Stieva-A cream and use a gentle moisturiser for a few days to help calm your skin. Be sure to use your Stieva-A cream only as your practitioner prescribed as this is the most reliable method for treating your skin concerns [1].

How do you calm skin irritation?

Due to the potency of Stieva-A cream, it can cause skin irritation while it's being used, particularly if it's being used with other products that don't quite gel with it.

In particular, some chemical hair treatment and skincare products can cause further irritation and should be avoided while using this product.

If you're experiencing itchy or stinging skin, apply a cold, wet cloth to the area, or use a fragrance-free moisturiser [3]. If the irritation continues, or if it worsens, you should seek medical advice.

Does Stieva-A reduce wrinkles?

Recent studies have shown that stieva a cream can be used for more than just acne. In fact, it's demonstrated serious benefits in the areas of pigmentation, particularly liver spots, as well as ageing [4].

One early study found that ongoing tretinoin use has a significant repair effect on new collagen. It was further confirmed by later studies that found tretinoin creams not only repaired new collagen but prevented collagen degradation and blocked some of the effects of UV radiation.

Since then, tretinoin has been found to be most effective in the treatment of ageing in a low-strength form of 0.02% [5].

Do you need a prescription for topical tretinoin?

Yes, in Australia you will need a valid Australian prescription to purchase any topical tretinoin, including Stieva-A cream.

To secure a prescription, you can head to a GP or access it via telehealth with an Australian healthcare practitioner.

Where to buy Stieva-A cream in Australia?

You can purchase Stieva-A cream in Australia at any pharmacy or chemist around the country.

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