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Differin (Adapalene) Gel

What Is Differin Gel

The popular drug Differin is a medication that is used externally. Its main action is aimed at the treatment of acne, pimples, papulopustular acne. The active ingredient is adapalene, the concentration of which does not exceed 0.1%. Its peculiarity is a targeted effect on the basic links, the cause of acne.

Adapalene is the active ingredient of Differin, which is a synthetic analog of retinoic acid and belongs to the dermatotropic agents. According to the chemical structure, adapalene is a derivative of naphthenic acid. The substance selectively binds to retinoic acid receptors on the nuclei of epithelial cells and stimulates keratinocyte differentiation processes. Moreover, no binding with cytosolic proteins sensitive to retinoic acid is observed. This determines the absence of a pronounced irritating effect.

Differin gel photo

Adapalene accelerates the final stage of keratinocyte transformation into keratinized scales and weakens the intercellular bonds in the epidermis. Acceleration of the last stages of keratinization of epithelial cells and weakening of connections between keratinocytes leads to their faster exfoliation, thinning of the epidermis, reduction of comedones formation. The drug improves the release of the mouths of hair follicles from the accumulation of keratinized cells.

Where do pimples, black spots on the skin, and acne come from? The processes of their formation are described in detail in the medical literature. The main causes of their appearance are:

  • hormonal changes in the body;
  • Increased sebum activity;
  • enlarged pores in the skin;
  • ingress of harmful microorganisms into the pores;
  • consequences of previous illnesses, skin injuries, or allergic reactions.

The product actively and quickly blocks sebum secretion. An additional important effect is the normalization of keratinization processes in hair follicles. Reviews of dermatologists about Differin gel and cream are very good. Many claim that this drug is the most effective on the market and perfectly copes with pimples, rashes, blackheads. Such a statement is true for the most popular product Differin, as well as its derivatives, products that are created on its basis. All products that belong to the group of topical retinoids (Adaklin, Klenzit), have proven themselves excellent in the fight against acne.

But it is important to clarify one point here. Differin in the role of an independent drug (without the participation of other drugs) can be used as a means to get rid of acne, but not the treatment of acne. In the latter case, it must be combined with agents that contain benzoyl peroxide or an antibiotic.

Adapalene vs Tretinoin

Product Description

If you follow the official instructions, the Swiss manufacturer’s cream and Adapalene gel should be used in the following cases:

  • If there are comedones, severe acne, pimples
  • If pustules, papules appeared

It is important to pay attention to the terminology. The concept of “acne” implies the presence of closed, open comedones on the skin. If we talk about pimples, they are classified into papules, which are characterized by the absence of pus, and pustules, inside which there is a secret with pus.

The instructions for the drug say that such indications are true for pimples, acne – moderate or mild disease. As for the severity of the ailment, it is determined by a specialist on an individual basis at the consultation. This takes into account the volume and the total number of inflammatory, non-inflammatory formations on the face.

There are three forms of manifestation of acne and acne:

  • A mild form of acne. At this stage, acne is expressed by the appearance of black dots and pimples (comedones). With this form of the disease is prescribed medication with oral tablets (topical retinoids, tretinoin, azelaic acid) and external antibacterial agents. Currently, the most effective treatment for the mild form is tretinoin;
  • The average form of acne. Oily seborrhea. In this case, the treatment must be complex. This means that the intake of pills should be simultaneously combined with the use of external medications. So, for example, Differin is combined in combination with systemic or topical antibiotics. To get a therapeutic effect, the appointment of a course of treatment should be made by a doctor;
  • A complex form of acne. The first step in the treatment of this type of rash – a consultation with a dermatologist, beautician, endocrinologist, gynecologist (for women). Only a joint examination will make it possible to develop the right course for success. To treat the disease requires a systematic approach – taking medications inside, along with the use of external medications (creams, gels, ointments). If the disease is severe, prescribe antibiotics, hormones, and retinoids (products based on salicylic and azelaic acids).

What Differin (Adapalene) Gel Is Used For

The active ingredient Differin Adapalene – has a soothing, drying, antiseptic, comedolytic, exfoliating, anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the sebaceous glands.  It prevents the appearance of acne, removes oily shine, and cleanses pores.


  1. Splits the acne plug in the sebaceous gland stimulates the process of changing the shape of the cells of the epithelial tissue.
  2. Keratolytic action (exfoliation of the upper layers of the skin, drying). Thanks to this action, the pimples are dried up and go away faster.
  3. Anti-inflammatory effect. Significantly inhibits the reproduction of bacteria, which are the main causative agent of acne.
  4. Sebo-regulating action (reducing the oiliness of the skin). This reduces the breeding ground for bacteria.
  5. The dissolution of comedones. Very often inflamed pimples occur because of comedones (clogged pores). Getting rid of comedones is one of the most important steps in building clear and healthy skin.
  6. Effectively fights post-acne (namely spots after acne). Suitable for sensitive skin.

Differin Acne Treatment

Differin acne gel specifically targets the causes of skin blemishes. The product has a wide range of possibilities:

  • exfoliation – effective exfoliation of keratinized cells of the upper layers of the dermis;
  • complete regeneration of the skin, due to which mimic and age wrinkles become less noticeable;
  • increasing turgor and smoothing the relief of the skin;
  • active substances of acne gel penetrate the upper layers of the epidermis and activate the natural production of elastin and collagen; deep cleansing and disinfection of the skin.

The substance depends shows its active action through keratinization. It is a rather complex process that can take place in the upper layers of the epidermal cells and is manifested in the form of keratin deposition. Keratin acts as a natural shield from various negative influences and the influence of harmful microflora.

Because Differin acne treatment eliminates the conditions for the reproduction of bacteria, the healing process is quick and effective. In turn, the presence of anti-inflammatory and bactericidal components helps to eliminate redness and improve the appearance of the skin. This has a positive effect on a person’s sense of self and self-esteem.

Before Taking This Medication

Like any other product of targeted action, Differin ointment has contraindications, restrictions on use. These include:

  • The presence of an allergic reaction to any component
  • Breastfeeding, carrying a baby
  • The patient’s age – under 12 years
  • Eczema, dermatitis, seborrhea (although these contraindications are relative).

How To Use Differin Gel

How to use Differin gel: Differin Gel is applied externally only and is best used before going to bed when the skin is actively renewing itself. Before using the product, wash your face thoroughly with soap or foam and then dry it with a paper towel. Light, massaging movements should apply the gel or cream locally – only on the area that is affected by pimples, acne. It is important to note that you can not Adapalene gel uses product on mucous membranes, wounds, lesions, the border of the lips. Do not allow it to get into the eyes.

Summary of patient demographics for European Phase III active-controlled clinical trial in Acne vulgaris

Dosage For Differin

Apply the Differin Adapalene gel evenly without rubbing it into the affected areas of the skin once a day before going to bed. The product should be applied to clean, dry skin. Therapeutic effect develops after 4 to 8 weeks of therapy, sustained improvement – after 3 months of therapy. It is possible to conduct repeat courses of therapy with the drug on the doctor’s recommendation. Différin is indicated for the treatment of mild to moderate acne as a monotherapy, and for moderate acne also in combination with other topical (antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide) and systemic (antibiotics, oral antiandrogens) drugs.

How Long To Use It

If you have oily, porous, and shiny skin, you will notice the first results in a few days. You will see that your skin is less shiny and less greasy, but there is still a long way to go. This effect will accompany you not for a few hours, but all day, and in some cases will last until the next day. If we talk about the number of pimples, acne, monotherapy with the drug Differin helps. The very first results you will see after a month of use. But completely the pimples will pass in about 2.5 months. This is especially true for neglected cases.

Get visible results only after a full course of therapy, which is at least 3 months. Such a period is specified if the patient was prescribed a monotherapy to get rid of pimples. If you treat them in a complex, it is necessary to combine Differin with antimicrobial drugs. For example, you can add medications that include antibiotics, benzoyl. And most importantly, the result of effective combination therapy comes faster than with a single drug.

Areas Differin Gel Should Not Be Used On

Avoid applying gel or cream to the eyes, lips, and mucous membranes. In case of accidental contact of the drug with the mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth, or nose, rinse them thoroughly with warm water. Avoid direct sunlight as slight skin irritation may occur. Treatment can be continued if sun exposure is minimized (use of sunglasses and hats).

The simultaneous use of cosmetics with a drying or irritating effect on the skin (e.g., perfumes or alcohol-containing products) is not recommended. Differin Gel applied to the skin in the evening may be combined with acne products applied in the morning.

Differin Gel Side Effects

Differin gel side effects: Skin itching, redness, and burning may occur. If these symptoms appear, you should stop using the cream. But after some time to resume use again. For the first 14 days the drug should not be used daily, but several times a week. Allergies sometimes appear in patients with dry, sensitive skin.

Erythema Grading Scale

Common Side Effects

If any of the side effects listed in the instructions worsen, or if any other side effects not listed in the instructions are noted, you should tell your doctor immediately.

Common Side Effects:

  • dry skin,
  • skin irritation,
  • the burning sensation of the skin,
  • erythema.

Uncommon Side Effects

Uncommon Side Effects:

  • allergic dermatitis (allergic contact dermatitis),
  • skin soreness,
  • swollen skin,
  • eyelid irritation,
  • erythema of the eyelids,
  • itchy eyelids,
  • swollen eyelids.

Drugs, Substances, Or Supplements Interactions

Since the drug does not interact with oxygen and is not destroyed by light, it may be used with other topical or systemic acne medications such as clindamycin phosphate or benzoyl peroxide.

Differin During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Clinical experience with the external use of adapalene during pregnancy is limited, but the data available from patients treated in early pregnancy do not demonstrate adverse effects on pregnancy or fetal health. Because of the limited data available and the possibility of negligible skin penetration of adapalene, Differin should not be used during pregnancy.

No studies on the penetration of the drug into breast milk in animals or humans have been conducted after application to the skin. Because systemic exposure of Differin in breastfeeding women is insignificant, no effect on breastfed children is expected. Differin can be used during breastfeeding. To avoid contact of the infant with the drug during use of Differin during breastfeeding one should avoid application to the breast area.

After Using The Medication

Exposure to sunlight and artificial ultraviolet light, including sunlamps, should be minimized to prevent skin irritation during the use of adapalene. If exposure cannot be avoided, sunscreens and clothing are recommended to protect the skin areas treated.

During the use of Differin gel wrinkles, it is possible to use cosmetics that do not have comedogenic or astringent properties. Differin cream contains methyl parahydroxybenzoate (E218) and propyl parahydroxybenzoate (E216), which may cause allergic reactions during or after treatment.


Store at a temperature not exceeding 25°C. Do not freeze. Keep out of the reach of children.


Shelf life is two years. Do not freeze cream to extend shelf life. After the expiry date, dispose of the following local requirements.

Alternative Medications

If severe acne has been detected, retinoids such as Differin are not prescribed – they will be powerless. Effective remedies, in this case, would be systemic retinoids, which are based on isotretinoin. But it is taken orally. Such medications include Acnekutan and Roaccutane.

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