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5 Things to Know About Differin, or Adapalene Gel


Adapalene is an effective acne-fighting drug that’s been available for over 20 years. First approved to treat acne by the FDA in 1996, over 40 million people have used adapalene across the globe. Here are some other must know facts about adapalene:

#1: Adapalene is a third generation retinoid designed to treat acne effectively while still being gentle on skin.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends retinoids, including adapalene, as the first treatment option for all types and severities of acne. Differin® Gel is available over-the-counter.

#2: Adapalene works differently from other OTC treatments, such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

Adapalene targets acne at its source, by working at the cellular level to unclog pores and help them stay clear. It also is anti-inflammatory, which helps fight the redness and inflammation of acne pimples. In fact, it’s so effective that you only have to apply it once a day, whereas with some other treatments you may have to apply up to 3 times a day.

#3: Adapalene is used differently than some other current OTC products.

Adapalene should be used all over the face. It is definitely not a spot treatment like you may be used to, so be sure to apply a thin layer to cover your affected areas fully. In this way it treats the acne you can see, and the acne you cannot.

#4: Adapalene should be used with a moisturizer.

Mild dryness and mild irritation, including itching and peeling, are a common side effect of adapalene, and are a sign for many people that it is working.  But don’t worry, these side effects often go away after a few weeks with continued use. Talk to your doctor about any continued side effects or concerns.

You can help by using a gentle, non-comedogenic moisturizer, preferably one with broad-spectrum SPF protection. Also be sure to use a gentle cleanser, free of harsh ingredients to gently cleanse your skin. While using adapalene, you should stay out of the sun or use sunscreen if you cannot. You also shouldn’t wax while using this medication and should steer clear of potentially irritating products, like medicated soaps or products containing a lot of alcohol.

#5: And best of all – prescription-strength adapalene 0.1% gel is now available as an OTC treatment!

Differin® Gel is the first new OTC acne drug in over 30 years and the first retinoid available to fight acne without a prescription. You can find it at most local drugstores.

While adapalene 0.1% gel will be a great option for many people, the good news is you can still see your doctor if you are not satisfied with your results and discuss other treatment options, such as Differin® (adapalene gel) 0.3%, Epiduo® (adapalene and benzoyl peroxide) Gel, 0.1%/2.5% and Epiduo® Forte (adapalene and benzoyl peroxide) Gel, 0.3%/2.5%.

All are indicated for the treatment of acne and as with all prescription medications, they can cause some side effects like redness, itching and dryness. As with adapalene, care should be taken to minimize exposure to sunlight while using these medications. Talk to your doctor for more information.