What should I look out for when starting on Differin?
The family clinic has suggested Differin for my forehead acne and PIH. I’m hesitant due to the fear of purging and making things worse. What should I look out for when starting on Differin? Thank you.
Good morning Troubled,
Differin is the mainstay in acne control and prevention and is generally a long term measure. Other than preventing acne, it also helps with pigmentation problems and rejuvenates the skin over several weeks to months of use.
First off, it would be preferable to not be using differin if you are pregnant or attempting pregnancy.
With regards to differin use, initial use can cause irritation to virgin skin, especially in the gel formulation. Particularly sensitive skin can have a slight break out. Others typically experience a certain dryness, tightness, redness and even some flaking of the skin. This is all expected and typically settles over 2-4 weeks as your skin gets accustomed to it.
It would be advisable to use differin over a small test area on the side of the forehead, once at night for 2 to 3 days a week. If your skin is able to tolerate this you can build it up to once a night over the course of several weeks.
The side effects above are indeed expected, so we do advise patients to push through the initial trying period and results will be seen after that. Do note that while differin provides the above benefits, it can increase your risk of pigmentation from UV exposure. As such, do ensure you stay out of the sun while on differin, and ensure regular sunscreen use.
If you need help titrating the dose and use of differin, do not hesitate to arrange for a consult for observed use of the product for best results.
Dr Shane Tan
Differin (or adapalene) is a type of retinoid (vitamin A derivative product).
Purging is not common with differin use. It is more common to experience some redness, dryness, irritation, burning/stinging sensation or peeling with the initial use of differin. Should you experience this, it is advisable to use it just 2-3x a week every night while your skin gets used to the treatment. You can also use moisturizers to calm the skin down.
Once your skin adapts to the medication, you may then increase the frequency of use to every night. Apply just a thin layer to the whole face especially to oily areas, and not just spot treatment to individual acne spot. Differin actually has better tolerability compared to other retinoid products such as tretinoin (meaning less side effects).
Do note that:
1. As with most acne treatments, you need to continue use for several months in order to get results with it.
2. Differin is a maintenance treatment and you should continue to use it even after your face is clear
Hope this answers your question.
Dr Jason Pek