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Differin gel contains the active ingredient adapalene, a form of Vitamin A. It is manufactured by Galderma and is used to treat acne symptoms.

Please note that we do not offer this medication through our service. Speak to your GP if you are experiencing persistent acne and would like to know more about this treatment.

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PLEASE NOTE: This treatment is not available through our online pharmacy service. This page is for information only. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to the condition(s) this medication treats, we strongly recommend that you see your GP in person.

This content was reviewed by a clinician on

25 August 2021
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 25 August 2021
Product information

Pharmaceutical brand Galderma manufacture Differin gel which is available to buy in the UK to treat acne symptoms. It uses the active ingredient adapalene which is a form of vitamin A. It unblocks pores and promotes skin cell renewal to help prevent spots.

  1. Effective acne treatment
  2. Unblocks pores and sebaceous glands
  3. Easy-to-apply topical gel

Acne causes spots and pustules to form mainly on the face, chest and back. It is a very common condition with around 80 percent of people aged between 11 and 30 being diagnosed. The majority of people with acne will see it improve as they get older, although some adults continue to experience symptoms throughout their lives. The severity of the condition can vary greatly from a sparse covering of blackheads or whiteheads, to lots of deep and painful pus-filled cysts. The condition is not contagious and does not usually lead to long term health problems but it can cause scarring. Acne can have a detrimental effect on the person’s self esteem and wellbeing; and can even lead to depression.

There is no current cure for acne. However, some cases can be helped by introducing a twice daily cleansing routine. For more severe symptoms there are various types of treatment available. This includes topical medicines such as Differin gel which you can purchase from our online pharmacy.

Spots form on the skin when sebaceous glands become blocked. This leads to an accumulation of sebum, the oil produced by the skin to keep it moisturised. The blockage means that excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells. This mixture then plugs follicles and causes either a blackhead or whitehead to form. Harmless bacteria that usually live on the surface of the skin are then able to infiltrate the system, sometimes leading to infections and cysts. Differin uses the active ingredient adapalene to reduce the production of keratin skin cells which clog up pores. This allows the excess sebum to exit the sebaceous cells and prevent spots from forming.

We do not offer this treatment through our service. Talk to your GP if you would like to know more about the available treatments for acne.

Page last reviewed:  25/08/2021


To achieve the best results from this medication you should adhere to the guidelines set out by your doctor. This should help reduce the likelihood of developing unwanted side effects.

  1. Apply to external sites only.
  2. Use at night before going to bed, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. 
  3. Clean and dry the area before application. 
  4. Use your fingertips to gently rub a thin layer of gel onto the skin. 
  5. Wash your hands after use.

The directions listed above only form a brief summary. For further details, refer to the patient information guide.

Download PDF

Page last reviewed:  25/08/2021
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Differin 0.001

Side effects & Warnings

Side effects

As with all medicines, there is a chance you may develop unwanted side effects when using Differin. If you experience an allergic reaction you should seek urgent medical attention.

Common (1 in 10 people or fewer):
Dry, irritated or inflamed skin at the site of application.

Uncommon (1 in 100 people or fewer):
Sunburn, itchy skin, peeling skin, sore skin, acne flare up or contact dermatitis.

Frequency unknown:
Swollen skin, irritation of the eyelids or allergic contact reaction.

Taking it with other medications

Inform your prescribing physician of any medicines you have recently taken or are currently taking. If you are using other acne treatment such as: benzoyl peroxide; erythromycin or clindamycin you can continue to do so. However, these should be applied in the morning and Differin in the evening.

Conditions to look out for

Disclose your medical history during your consultation. This will help the doctor decide whether or not this treatment is suitable for you. This drug may not be suitable for those with cuts on the skin or eczema.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Differin should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant whilst using this product you should discontinue its use and arrange an appointment with your doctor.

You can use Differin when breastfeeding but application to the chest area should be avoided.

Sunlight and ultraviolet sun lamps

You should avoid exposure to direct sunlight or artificial rays.

Page last reviewed:  25/08/2021
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Differin 0.001


Can I still drink alcohol?

Yes. It is unlikely that drinking alcohol will affect your course of treatment.

Will I still be able to drive?

Yes. This medicine should not interfere with your ability to drive or operate machinery.

Can I take this medicine while pregnant?

No. Consult with your doctor if you are pregnant or think that you might be. They may need to look at alternative treatments for you.

How should I store it?

Store in the original container and in a dry place below 25°C. Keep away from children. Do not freeze.

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

If you have allergies to any of the following ingredients, do not use this product. Adapalene, carbomer 940, propylene glycol (E1520), poloxamer 182, disodium edetate, methylparahydroxybenzoate (E218), phenoxyethanol, sodium hydroxide and purified water.

Is it available over-the-counter?

No. A prescription is required for this item. This is so a doctor can ensure it is safe for you prior to use.

Is it right for me?

If you have not used this treatment before or you are experiencing new acne symptoms, see your doctor. They will be able to examine your symptoms and determine the best possible course of treatment.

Page last reviewed:  25/08/2021
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