Generic name: Adapalene.

Differin is a topical antiacne agent and vitamin A derivative. It has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect that helps prevent the development of new acne lesions (whiteheads).  

Quick Facts About Differin


Used to treat mild to moderate acne vulgaris, which usually develops during puberty.


Wash affected skin area and pat dry. Wait 20 to 30 minutes. Apply a thin film of cream and rub it in thoroughly but gently, to avoid irritation. Keep away from eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash hands after applying. Use exactly as prescribed. Using cream in greater amounts or more frequently won’t improve results and may cause excessive skin irritation.

  • Usual adult dose: a thin film of Differin once per day (in the evening).
  • Usual child dose: not generally prescribed for children under 12 years.
  • Missed dose: take as soon as possible, unless almost time for next dose. In that case, do not take missed dose; go back to regular schedule. Do not double doses.

Differin Side Effects

Overdose symptoms:

none reported. However, if you suspect an overdose or skin becomes extremely irritated, stop applying medication and immediately seek medical attention.

More common side effects: burning, dryness, itching, redness, scaling.

Less common Differin side effects: painful skin irritation.


Inform your doctor or pharmacist before combining Differin with other topical medications.

No known food/other substance interactions.

Special Cautions

If pregnant or planning to become pregnant, inform your doctor immediately. Benefits may outweigh risks. Not known if Differin appears in breast milk.

Not generally prescribed for seniors.

Not prescribed for children under 12 years.

  • May cause some itching, burning, or stinging initially, which should stop as treatment continues. If these side effects continue for more than 4 weeks or worsen, consult with your doctor about reducing the dosage or temporarily stopping treatment.
  • Avoid exposure to sun during Differin therapy. Always use a water-based sunscreen and wear protective cloth-ing (e.g., a hat), even when medication is applied only at bedtime. Do not apply medication during the day or during suntanning.
  • Acne may worsen during first 3 to 6 weeks of treatment. This is normal and temporary.
  • Avoid cold or wind if possible; may irritate skin.
  • May use water-based cosmetics while undergoing treatment.


HealthSurvey.org provides accurate and independent information prescription pills, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have questions about  dosage, or Differin side effects, please contact your healthcare provider.