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Differin (Adapalene)

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Delivery and Packing
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You can pay for your order using credit, debit card and bank transfer.

Card Payment: Please notify us that you wish to cancel your order. Your refund will show available In 1 - 3 days.

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Treatment Information

Table of contents

Patient Reviews: How Differin (Adapalene) Has Made a Difference

What is Differin cream or gel used for?

Differin (adapalene) is a topical treatment for acne which is available as a cream or gel. Both formulations contain 0.1% adapalene - a retinoid derived from vitamin A.

Differin gel is a smooth, opaque, white topical gel, while Differin cream is a glossy, white cream. Both are used in the same way and contain the same active ingredient.

You can order Differin gel or cream in either 45g or 90g tubes from Prescription Doctor's Uk pharmacy. We offer fast and discreet delivery on all orders dispatched from our pharmacy.

What is acne?

Acne is a skin condition that causes spots on the skin, especially around the face. It commonly affects teenagers during puberty, although some adults do experience breakouts of acne.

The development of acne begins when a pore in the skin becomes blocked with dead skin cells and keratin - the material which hair and nails are made of.

Sebum, which is an oily substance secreted by sebaceous glands below the skin's surface, has nowhere to go and begins to build up below the blockage.

How acne develops under the skin

Bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. Acnes) feed on the surplus of sebum and multiply without contest. As the bacterium feed, they excrete fatty acids and other substances which irritate the skin and cause inflammation. This is what causes the characteristic red blemishes on the skin.

Hormones play a major role in the development of acne, which is why acne is more likely to develop during puberty. Some women may experience acne during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle or during the first few months of pregnancy, due to an increase of progesterone - though the exact mechanism of how progesterone causes acne is unknown. In men, high testosterone levels can influence acne; testosterone promotes sebum production which increases the risk of acne.

Other causes of acne include:

  • A family history of acne
  • Cosmetic products
  • Medicines
  • Smoking

There is currently no strong evidence to suggest that acne is caused by poor diet, poor hygiene or sexual activity.

If your acne is moderate to severe, hasn't responded to other treatment, or is causing you distress, it's best to speak to your doctor. They will be able to determine the possible cause of your acne and discuss appropriate treatments for you.

Where can I get Differin cream or gel?

Differin gel and cream is only available on prescription and cannot be bought over the counter. With Prescription Doctor, one of our doctors online can issue a prescription for Differin gel or cream, following an online consultation. Simply fill out our online medical form to get started with your order.

How does Differin cream or gel work?

Differin gel and cream work in two ways to treat acne.

Adapalene, the active ingredient of Differin, helps to shed the top layer of skin and unclogs blocked pores. This allows the sebum to escape and clears up the infection.

Differin (adapalene) also acts as an anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling and redness in the affected areas.

Both actions work together to treat acne.

How do I use Differin cream or gel?

Differin should be applied once daily to the affected areas of the skin before bed.

You can apply Differin cream or gel to small patches of acne on your face, back or chest. You should not apply Differin over large areas of severe acne.

Before you apply Differin, clean the acne-prone area with warm water and mild soap and pat the area with a dry towel.

Apply a small amount of Differin cream or gel to the affected area and gently rub it into the skin, applying a thin layer of Differin over the acne and surrounding areas.

Avoid using Differin near broken skin (cuts and scratches) or if you have eczema.

Avoid contact with eyes, nose, mouth and other sensitive body parts. If contact does occur, wash the area thoroughly with warm water.

Always wash your hands after applying Differin cream or gel.

If you accidentally apply too much Differin cream or gel, simply wipe it away with a tissue and discard the tissue safely.

Differin can be safely used with other topical acne treatments. If you are using other acne products (which may contain benzoyl peroxide, erythromycin or clindamycin), you should apply those in the morning and apply Differin at night. For advice on using Differin with other topical treatments, speak to your doctor or a pharmacist.

Differin comes in a tube. To get the most out of your tube, roll it up from the bottom rather than squeezing it at the sides to push the medicine out. Only use a small amount of Differin gel or cream on your skin to prevent wasting it.

Side effects and cautions of Differin cream or gel

Before using Differin, it's important to familiarise yourself with the patient information leaflet enclosed with your medicine. This leaflet contains important information about how to use and store Differin, as well as known side effects and a complete list of ingredients.

You can view the patient information leaflet for Differin Cream and the patient information leaflet for Differin Gel.

Side effects

Every medicine has the potential of causing side effects, though not everybody who uses the medicine will experience them. Nonetheless, it is important to educate yourself on the associated risks by reading the patient information leaflet enclosed with your medicine.

If you have any concerns about anything you read in the patient information leaflet or have any questions about your condition or the treatment, feel free to send a message to one of our online doctors using your Prescription Doctor account.

The side effects for Differin Cream and Differin Gel are the same.

Common side effects (may affect up to 1 in 10 people):

  • Burning sensation of the skin
  • Dry skin
  • Irritation of the skin
  • Redness of the skin

Uncommon side effects (may affect up to 1 in 100 people):

  • Flare-up of acne
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight
  • Itchy skin
  • Peeling of the skin
  • Skin discomfort
  • Skin reaction

This is not an exhaustive list of side effects. Further information regarding the safety of Differin, including a complete list of side effects, can be found within the patient information leaflet enclosed within the packaging of your medicine.

If you experience any side effects, regardless of whether they are listed above or in the patient information leaflet, inform your doctor as soon as possible. You can also ask a pharmacist or dial the NHS 111 service for advice on how to manage your side effects.

If side effects persist for longer than 3 weeks, the doctor may lower the dose or stop your treatment.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Do not use Differin (adapalene) cream or gel if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant. Speak to your doctor for further advice.

If you become pregnant while using Differin (adapalene), inform your doctor straight away. Your doctor may recommend an alternative treatment which poses less of a risk to you and your baby.

Differin should be used with caution in breastfeeding mothers. If you are breastfeeding, speak to your doctor before using Differin. They will be able to determine the safety of the treatment for you and your child.


Do not use Differin if you are allergic to adapalene or any other ingredients listed in the patient information leaflet.

If you experience the signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction, stop using Differin and go straight to your nearest accident and emergency department. Remember to take the packaging and any remaining medicine with you so that the doctors know exactly what you have taken.

Signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • Chest tightening
  • Dry, red and cracked skin
  • Itchy, red watery eyes
  • Raised, itchy, red rash (hives)
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, eyes or face
  • Tummy pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Wheezing

Other safety information

Always read the patient information leaflet enclosed with your Differin before you start using it.

During your online consultation, you should inform our doctor online of all other medicines you are currently taking. Remember to include medicines prescribed by your doctor or bought over the counter, including health and herbal supplements.

Do not use Differin past the expiry date printed on the packaging. The date refers to the last day of the specified month.

Never throw away medicine via household or water waste. Take any unwanted or expired medication to your local pharmacy and ask them to dispose of them safely on your behalf.

Always store your medicine out of sight and reach from children and pets.

Never share your medicine with anybody else, even if they are experiencing the same symptoms or have been diagnosed with the same condition as you.

Frequently asked questions

What should I do if I forget to use Differin cream or gel when I should?

If you forget to use Differin when you should, use it as soon as you remember. Continue to apply Differin as you normally would. Do not apply more Differin (adapalene) cream or gel to make up for the forgotten dose.

What should I do if I accidentally use more Differin cream or gel than I should?

If you accidentally apply too much Differin (adapalene), simply wipe away the excess with a clean tissue and discard safely. Using more Differin (adapalene) will not clear your acne any faster, but may increase your risk of side effects.

Can I drink alcohol while using Differin cream or gel?

Yes, it is safe to drink alcohol while using Differin (adapalene). Always drink in moderation and avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

Will Differin cream or gel affect my ability to drive or operate machinery?

Differin should not impact your ability to drive or operate machinery.

Can I use Differin cream or gel with moisturisers and other cosmetics?

You can wear make-up and use other cosmetic products while using Differin for acne. You should stick to products which are non-comedogenic, which means it doesn't clog pores. Apply Differin and wait for the area to dry before applying other cosmetics.

Can I use Differin cream or gel when pregnant or breastfeeding?

No, it is not safe to use Differin if you are pregnant or a breastfeeding mother. Speak to your doctor for more information.

How long does Differin cream or gel take to work?

It may take up to 12 weeks of consistently using Differin before you notice an improvement in your acne.

Will Differin cream or gel make my acne worse?

Differin may make your acne appear worse when you begin using it. As you continue to use Differin, you should notice an improvement in your acne.

Additional resources

Natural ways to control your acne.

Control your hormones, control your acne

How to use Tea Tree oil for acne?

What is 'bacne' and how is it treated?

Treatment information

  • Product Name: Differin
  • Manufacturer: Galderma
  • Active Ingredient(s) Adapalene
  • Administration: Directly to skin (topical)
  • Presentation: Cream or gel
  • Available Strength: 0.1% Adapelene
  • Exemption: Prescription only medication
  • Application: Men and women over 18 with acne
  • Dosage: Once daily to affected area
  • Description: Differin is a topical treatment for acne which contains Adapalene
  • Drug Class: Retinoid
  • Alcohol Consumption: Avoid or limit alcohol consumption to recommended weekly limit
  • When Pregnant: Do not use when pregnant. Speak to your doctor for more advice.
  • When Breastfeeding Do not use when breastfeeding. Speak to your doctor for more advice.
  • Price: 38.99 GBP
Click here to view the Differin (Adapalene) - Patient Information Leaflet

Authored & Reviewed By

Mohamed Imran Lakhi

Mohamed Imran Lakhi

MPharm - Lead Pharmacist
Imran Lakhi is the superintendent pharmacist and founder at Prescription Doctor. He has been at the core of our team.

Published on: 11/09/2018 Reviewed on: 13/03/2024

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