Differin

(adapalene)

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Treats acne.

Skip Upsides & Downsides section. Skip to side effects section.

Our bottom line

Differin (adapalene) is commonly used for treating acne, but, it can cause skin irritation.

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    $73.00
Quick facts about Differin
  • Drug class: Dermatologic
  • Rx status: Prescription or OTC
  • Generic status: Lower-cost generic available (adapalene)

Upsides

  • Differin (adapalene) is a good option for the treatment of acne.
  • It is available as a cheaper, generic medication.
  • It only has to be applied to the skin once a day at bedtime.
  • The 0.1% gel formulation is available over the counter, without a prescription.
  • Differin (adapalene) is generally well tolerated, with few side effects.
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What to expect from Differin, on one page

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Downsides

  • Your skin may look worse before it starts looking better.
  • Differin (adapalene) can take up to 8 to 12 week to start working.
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What to expect from Differin, on one page

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How it works

Differin (adapalene) is similar to retinoid medications use for acne. It works by controlling the overgrowth of skin cells and reducing inflammation.

Quick facts about Differin
  • Drug class: Dermatologic
  • Rx status: Prescription or OTC
  • Generic status: Lower-cost generic available (adapalene)

Used for

Dosage forms

  • Cream
  • Gel
  • Lotion
Tried Differin? Write a review!

Prices and coupons

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What to expect when you take Differin (adapalene) for Acne

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  • First few hoursHours
    First few daysDays
    First few weeksWeeks
    First few monthsMonths
  • Effectiveness
  • Starts to kick in
    Full effects
  • First few hoursHours
    First few daysDays
    First few weeksWeeks
    First few monthsMonths
  • Possible side effects
  • Skin redness
  • Skin scaling
  • Skin dryness
  • Persistent itching
  • Persistent burning and stinging
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Side effect rates for Differin (adapalene)

  • Skin dryness
    42%42%
  • Skin redness
    38%38%
  • Skin scaling
    35%35%
  • Persistent burning and stinging
    24%24%
  • Persistent itching
    21%21%
  • Skin redness
    10%10%
  • Skin dryness
    9%9%
  • Skin scaling
    6%6%
  • Persistent itching
    4%4%
  • Persistent burning and stinging
    4%4%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
Where we got our data »

The placebo bar shows how common a side effect was for people taking a sugar pill instead of Differin.

Differin (adapalene)
Placebo

People taking Differin felt side effect more

People taking Differin felt side effect less

No difference

Risks and Warnings for Differin (adapalene)

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    • Higher risk if:
    • Soaps and cleansers with skin-drying effects
    • Products with high concentraions of alcohol, astringents, spices, or limes.

    Differin (adapalene) can cause local skin reactions including redness, scaling, dryness, and stinging/burning. These symptoms will likely occur during the first 2 weeks of treatment, and usually lessen with continued use of Differin (adapalene). Talk to your doctor if these symptoms become intolerable. You will likely need to use a moisturizer, reduce the frequency of applying Differin (adapalene), or discontinue using it. It shouldn't be applied to cuts, abrasions, or sunburned skin. Avoid using Differin (adapalene) at the same time as other potentially irritating topical products, such as soaps and cleansers that have a strong skin-drying effect and products with high concentrations of alcohol, astringents, spices, or limes.