Adapalene (Differin) 0.1% gel – Y


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Adapalene (Differin) 0.1% gel  plays a crucial role in the treatment of mild to moderate acne where comedones, papuples, and pustules predominate. Comedones are pores or hair follicles that have gotten blocked with bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells to form a bump on your skin. Papules are raised areas on the skin that are less than 1 cm. Pustules are small bumps on the skin that contain pus. Acne of the face, chest, or back is appropriate for treatment.

The drug’s active ingredient contains adapalene, a type of topical retinoid with FDA approval for treating acne vulgaris. It contains vitamin A activity which helps regulate cell turnover to make sure that your skin goes through the right process. It also works partly by keeping skin pores clear, creating a healthier environment for skin.


What does Adapalene (Differin) 0.1% gel contain?

Differin is a topical retinoid containing adapalene 0.1% for the treatment of mild to moderate acne. Adapalene was initially FDA-approved in 1996 for the treatment of mild to moderate acne in patients 12 years of age and older. FDA approved  adapalene 0.1% gel as an over-the-counter acne treatment. Other formulations of adapalene, such as 0.1% lotion and cream and 0.3% gel are available by prescription only.

How does Adapalene (Differin) 0.1% gel work?

Adapalene, the active ingredient of Differin 0.1% gel, acts by modulating cellular keratinization, decreasing microcomedone formations, exfoliating mature comedones, and reducing inflammation. It functions within pilosebaceous units to regulate some of the accumulation factors that result in acne lesions.

Who cannot take Adapalene (Differin) 0.1% gel?

This medication is not suitable for those who are/have:

  • Allergic to any ingredient of the product
  • Eczema (dry, itchy, and inflamed skin)
  • Seborrheic dermatitis (scaly rash on oily areas of the body like the scalp and face)
  • Severe acne
  • Broken or sunburned skin
  • Pregnant or planning a pregnancy

How should you take Adapalene (Differin) 0.1% gel?

Use this medicine as directed. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than what your doctor told you as it may increase skin irritation.

Instructions for use:

  1. Apply to a clean face once daily at bedtime.
  2. The patient should wash the face with a gentle cleanser and allow the face to dry thoroughly.
  3. A pea-sized amount should be applied as a thin layer to the entire face. Avoiding application to eyelids, lips and mucous membranes is necessary. Spread the medicine away from these areas when applying.
  4. Rub in gently and well. Wash your hands afterwards to remove any medicine that may remain on them.

You may  notice your acne getting worse in the first 3 weeks of treatment with adapalene. This is normal. Improvement will be evident in 4 to 8 weeks of treatment with further improvement expected with continued use.  You should not stop using adapalene if your acne seems worse at first, unless irritation or other symptoms become severe. Check with your doctor if your acne does not improve within 8 to 12 weeks.

You may also experience initial skin irritation which may get worse within the first two weeks of treatment. You can decrease the application to every other day, apply an oil-free moisturizer over Differin gel, or use a different formulation of the drug to help decrease the risk of irritation.

To help clear up your acne completely, it is very important that you keep using this medicine and finish the course of treatment even if your symptoms begin to clear up after a short time. It will help prevent new breakouts. With consistent use, Differin gel will continue to clear up acne-related redness and inflammation, stop blackheads and clogged pores, and restore the texture and tone of the skin. If you stop using this medicine too soon, your acne may return or get worse.

What if you miss a dose?

If you forget your dose, you can take it as soon as you remember it and as needed unless it’s nearly time for your next dose. In this case, just skip it and take your next dose at the usual time. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.

What if you take too much?

If the medication is applied excessively, no more rapid or better results will be obtained. Marked redness, peeling or discomfort may occur.

Differin gel is for external use only. If accidentally ingested, it is unlikely to harm you if ingested amount is small. However, if you feel unwell, speak to your doctor. If accidentally ingested by pregnant women, it may cause harmful effects on the baby. In addition, according to product labeling, chronic ingestion of the drug may lead to the same adverse drug reactions associated with excessive oral intake of vitamin A (e.g. headache, blurred vision, drowsiness, irritability, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain).

What are the side effects of Adapalene (Differin) 0.1% gel?

Some of the common adverse reactions of this product are usually mild and may subside on its own.

  • Photosensitivity
  • Skin irritation, redness, dryness, itching, stinging and burning sensation.


  • Exfoliation (peeling skin)
  • Sunburns if exposed to sunlight or artificial UV light
  • Contact dermatitis (local skin reactions)

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

Stop using Differin gel and contact your doctor immediately if you experience an of the following rare but serious side effects:

  • Severe allergic reactions (swelling of the face, lips, or throat)
  • Rashes, itching, hives, dizziness
  • Angioedema (painless swelling under the skin)

What other precautions should be taken?


Safety and efficacy of this medication have not been established for children below 12 years old.


Safety and effectiveness in elderly patients age 65 and above have not been established.


No information on the effects of adapalene in pregnant women is available. Consequently, it should not be used during pregnancy, especially during the first three months.

You should avoid getting pregnant. Use of effective contraceptive measures is advised.


It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Caution should be exercised when Differin Gel and is used by nursing mothers. In this case, this product should not be used on the chest.

Drug-Disease Interactions

No information regarding the use of adapalene in patients with liver and kidney problems is provided in product labeling.

Drug-Drug Interactions

If you use more than one topical acne treatment simultaneously, your skin might get irritated. Do not apply any topical product to the same area where you are using adapalene, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

Your doctor may ask you to use other topical products, such as benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, or erythromycin, during your treatment with adapalene. Applying the products at different times of the day will lessen the chance of causing skin irritation.


You can drink alcohol while using this medication.


This medication does not affect your ability to drive.

Diet and Lifestyle

You can eat and drink normally while using Differin gel.

Skin care routine

  • Do not apply the gel on to windburned or sunburned skin or open wounds.
  • Do not apply it in or around the eyes, lips, or inside of the nose. If the medicine accidentally gets on these areas, wash with water immediately.
  • It is recommended that you use a mild soap and lukewarm water to wash with, as very hot or cold water can worsen acne. You cannot clean off blackheads.
  • Try to avoid any skin products which exfoliate or dry your skin, such as products that have alpha-hydroxy, salicylic, or glycolic acids because they can make irritation worse.
  • If you have recently been using a preparation for your acne that causes your skin to peel, allow your skin to recover for a few days before you start using adapalene.
  • Because there is a risk of sensitivity to the sun with with topical retinoids, it is recommended that you use an oil-free sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and avoid excessive sun exposure, including sunlamps and sun beds.
  • Do not use wax to get rid of hair where the product has been put on.
  • If you use cosmetics, these should be non-comedogenic and non-astringent. Do not use them at the same time you use adapalene.

How should you store Adapalene (Differin) 0.1% gel?

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Quick Tips

  • This medication is not recommended for children below 12 years old.
  • Adapalene (Differin) gel is for external use only. Avoid the eyes, nose, and angles of the nose.
  • This medication should not be applied to cuts, abrasions, eczematous, or sunburned skin.
  • You may notice skin irritation or your acne getting worse during the first few weeks of treatment. This is normal as the skin acclimates to daily use.
  • Improvements will be evident in 4-8 weeks with further improvements with continued use.
  • Avoid getting pregnant while using this medication.
  • Avoid applying other products that exfoliate the skin.
  • Minimize sun exposure.

What company produces Adapalene (Differin) 0.1% gel?

Galderma CEO: Flemming Ørnskov, M.D., MPH
Headquarters: Lausanne, Switzerland
Founded: 1981
Number of employees: 5,700
Subsidiaries: Galderma Laboratories, L.P., Q-Med AB, ALASTIN Skincare, Inc., Galderma Nordic AB.

Additional Information


Apply on the affected areas of the skin, once daily at night time. A thin film of the gel should be applied to the skin areas where acne lesions appear, using enough to cover the entire affected areas lightly.

Side Effects

Common side effects:
– Photosensitivity
– Skin irritation, redness, dryness, itching, stinging and burning sensation

Uncommon side effects:
– Exfoliation (peeling skin)
– Sunburns if exposed to sunlight or artificial UV light
– Contact dermatitis (local skin reactions)

Rare side effects:
– Severe allergic reactions (swelling of the face, lips, or throat)
– Rashes, itching, hives, dizziness
– Angioedema (painless swelling under the skin)


Allergy to any ingredient of the product
Eczema (dry, itchy, and inflamed skin)
Seborrheic dermatitis (scaly rash on oily areas of the body like the scalp and face)
Severe acne
Broken or sunburned skin
Pregnant or planning a pregnancy

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