Differin Cream

  • Prescribed for the treatment of acne
  • Reduces redness and irritation of the skin
  • Visibly reduces the symptoms caused by acne
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Disclaimer: The prices displayed should only be used as a reference of our prices for this medicine. If you are approved for treatment, our prescribers will decide on a suitable treatment for you to jointly consider.

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What is Differin cream?

Differin cream contains the active ingredient adapalene, which is a powerful topical retinoid that treats acne and other skin conditions.

It reduces the growth of keratin skin cells, which normally act to block pores, resulting in acne vulgaris.

Differin cream is only available on prescription and can be used by adults and children over the age of 12.

What is Differin cream used to treat?

Differin cream is largely prescribed as an acne treatment.

Adapalene has an anti-inflammatory effect, which helps to reduce soreness and irritation, meaning it is effective in reducing redness and inflammation caused by acne spots.

Differin is absorbed into the body in small amounts and has little effect on anywhere apart from the surface of your skin. This makes it an effective treatment for the physical symptoms caused by acne.

It has also been suggested that Differin can help to reduce wrinkles. It is not classed as an anti-ageing product, although it does help to smooth and exfoliate the skin.

How does Differin cream work?

Acne is often caused by an overproduction of sebum, which is a natural, oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands under the surface of the skin. Sebum is needed to keep the skin smooth, but when too much is produced, it can combine with dead keratin cells and block your skin’s pores. This causes inflammation and produces spots, blackheads and whiteheads.

Differin works to reduce the number of keratin skin cells. It helps to unblock the pores and sebaceous glands so that sebum can escape. This stops the pores from being clogged, which will reduce inflammation, ridding your skin of spots, blackheads and whiteheads.

Furthermore, Differin cream will increase the natural skin cell turnover, which will naturally exfoliate the outer layers of skin to stop the pores from clogging up again.

How to use Differin cream

This acne treatment is for external use only. Avoid contact with the eyes, mouth or angles of the nose. Do not apply the medicine to any areas on your body that have cuts, scrapes or sunburnt skin. Do not apply Differin to anywhere that is affected by skin conditions like eczema.

Differin is for external use only.

Unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, you should apply the cream at night before you go to bed.

  1. Wash the affected areas thoroughly with water and pat dry before applying.
  2. Apply a thin film of cream to the affected areas with your fingertips. Rub the cream in gently.
  3. Wash your hands after applying Differin cream.

Read the patient information leaflet before you start to use Differin. Here, you will find comprehensive instructions.

Who can use Differin?

Differin is an effective acne treatment, but it is not suitable for everyone to use.

Do not use Differin if you are allergic to adapalene or any of the other ingredients contained in the medicine (please see the Ingredients tab for full details).

This treatment is not recommended for women who are pregnant.

Differin is safe to use while breastfeeding. However, to avoid the treatment from being ingested by your baby, you should not apply it to your chest.

Do not use this medicine alongside any other products to treat acne that contain benzoyl peroxide, erythromycin or clindamycin.

Can you buy Differin cream over the counter?

No, Differin cream is not available to buy without a prescription.

Can you buy Differin cream online in the UK?

You can buy Differin cream online from regulated pharmacies, like Medicine Direct. However, as this is a prescription-only medicine (POM), you will first need to fill out a confidential online questionnaire. This is so a registered doctor, pharmacist or prescriber can review your answers to make sure Differin is suitable for you to use.

Never buy any type of medicine online from anywhere other than regulated pharmacies. This will make sure you only purchase genuine and approved versions of the medication you require. Medicine Direct is fully regulated by all the necessary organisations in the UK; you can find out more on our About Us page.

Differin alternatives

Differin gel is also available to buy from Medicine Direct. The gel version of this medicine works in the same way, but dries faster and may be more suitable for patients with oily skin.

Non-prescription topical treatments like Clearasil Rapid Action Cream and Acnecide gel can also be bought from our online pharmacy.

Other prescription-strength topical acne treatments we stock include:

  • Epiduo gel is a retinoid that also contains adapalene
  • Duac gel
  • Treclin gel is also a retinoid that is available to buy from Medicine Direct
  • Finacea gel
  • Zineryt lotion

Differin Cream Dosage and Directions

Always follow your doctor's instructions precisely and read the patient information leaflet thoroughly before using Differin. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure of anything, before applying this treatment.

Our pharmacists and prescribers follow NICE prescribing guidelines when prescribing Differin cream

How long will I need to use it for?

How long you will need to apply Differin for will depend on how quickly your acne symptoms begin to improve. You should not use this acne treatment for longer than 3 months without speaking to your doctor. The doctor will be able to see how your skin is responding to the cream and whether your acne is beginning to improve.

What if I apply more than I am supposed to?

An extra dose of Differin is unlikely to do you any harm. If you apply too much, just wash the cream off. Applying extra doses of Differin will not clear up your acne any faster and your skin may become irritated or red. Your skin may also peel.

Seek medical advice if you accidentally swallow some of this medicine.

What if I forget to apply it?

If you forget to apply Differin, don't worry, just apply the treatment the next night.

To effectively treat acne on your skin, it is important you are consistent with your application of Differin. Some people find it helpful to set an alarm before bed, to remind them to apply the treatment to their skin.

How to store

Store this medicine in a cool, dry place. Keep it out of sight and reach of children.

Do not keep using Differin if it has passed its expiry date

How long does Differin cream take to work?


You might need to use Differin for between 8 and 12 weeks before you start to see noticeable results from the medicine. To get the fastest results, it is important you consistently apply it each day. Do not use more than you have been instructed to.

Will Differin treat acne scars?


Differin contains adapalene, which may aid in the treatment of acne scars. However, it should not be used exclusively as an acne scar treatment.

Can Differin cream remove wrinkles?


It has long been debated as to whether Differin can help to get rid of wrinkles on the skin. It is not an anti-ageing product, but does work to make the skin smooth and increases cell turnover, which helps to exfoliate skin naturally.

Should I use Differin cream or gel?


Both Differin cream and Differin gel contain the same active ingredient and work to treat acne in the same way. However, the gel may be more suitable for people with greasy skin as it dries faster than the cream. The cream is less drying than the gel and less likely to cause irritation, so may be better for people with sensitive skin.

Can adapalene make acne worse?


u will likely need to use Differin for at least 8 weeks before you notice an improvement in your acne. If your acne seems to be getting worse during treatment, speak to your doctor.

Can Differin be used to treat hormonal acne?


Yes, Differin may be prescribed as a treatment for hormonal acne in people over the age of 12.

When should I stop using Differin?


Do not stop using Differin before your doctor tells you to. You should see your doctor after using this cream for 3 months, so they can assess how successful the treatment has been.

Will Differin make my skin peel?


Skin peeling is an uncommon side effect of this medicine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if this reaction bothers you or does not go away.

Can you moisturise while using Differin?


You can use a moisturiser while using Differin, but the cream should have had enough time to dry before you apply the moisturiser.

Can Differin cream be applied under the eyes?


You can apply under the eyes, as long as you make sure none of the cream actually goes into your eyes. If you get any cream in your eyes, rinse them with clean water straight away. Seek medical attention if you suffer any pain or visual disturbances after doing this.

Differin Cream Serious Side Effects

The below are uncommon side effects of Differin, which may affect up to 1 in every 100 people:

  • Local skin reaction
  • Sunburn
  • Skin discomfort
  • Skin peeling
  • Itching
  • Flare up of acne

It is not known the frequency of these reactions:

  • Allergic contact reaction
  • Irritation, redness, itching or swelling of the eyelids
  • Pain or skin swelling

Report any of these side effects to your doctor.

In rare cases, you may suffer a severe allergic reaction to Differin and require immediate treatment in a hospital. You should either go to A&E or call 999 straight away if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • You are wheezing
  • You have swelling in the lips, mouth, throat, face or tongue
  • You have a skin rash that is blistered, peeling, itchy, red or swollen
  • You are finding it difficult to speak or breathe
  • You have tightness in your chest or throat

Always read the patient information leaflet thoroughly before you start to use Differin, for the full list of side effects and reactions. If you have any concerns or questions, you are advised to speak to your doctor before you start to take Differin.

Differin Cream Warnings and drug interactions

Differin may interact with other drugs, which can increase your risk of side effects and hinder the effectiveness of this treatment on your acne.

Before you start to take a new medicine, you should always tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are already taking any other medicines. This includes both prescription and non-prescription medication, herbal remedies, vitamins and supplements.

Make sure your doctor is aware if you are already taking any of the following:

  • Any other products to treat acne that contain benzoyl peroxide, erythromycin or clindamycin
  • Cosmetics can be used as long as they do not cause blackheads or dry skin

For more information on medicines that interact with Differin Cream

You should avoid exposure to strong sunlight and artificial UV light (such as sunbeds) while using this medication. If you experience any sensitivity or irritation while applying Differin, stop using it and speak to your doctor. They may advise you to use it less often or stop using it altogether for a short period of time.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Differin is not indicated for use during pregnancy. Speak to your doctor if you are breastfeeding as your doctor will assess the benefits against the risk when prescribing. Find our more on using differin cream during preganancy and breastfeeding

Differin Cream Ingredients

The main active ingredient within this medicine is: Adapalene

For a full list of the inactive ingredients, please read the Summary of Product Characteristics

Delivery Company Delivery Service Price Details
Royal Mail UK Delivery Standard UK Tracked £2.99 3 - 4 Working Day Delivery
DPD UK Next Day Delivery Next Day Delivery - Tracked £5.95 Order by 2pm (subject to Dr approval) Next Working Day Delivery
DPD UK Next Day Delivery Next Day Tracked Morning Delivery by 12:00pm £12.95 Next Working Day Morning Delivery by 12:00pm
DPD UK Next Day Delivery Tracked Saturday Delivery £9.95

Delivery specified for Saturday

Order Friday by 2pm (subject to Dr approval)

Please note that next day delivery to Northern Ireland, Scottish Highlands & Islands and British Isles cannot be guaranteed. Please contact our team for more information.

Written byHussain Abdeh MPharm: 2211840

Published on: 12/10/2020

Updated on: 25/08/2021

This content has been written by our Superintendent Pharmacist Hussain Abdeh and has been medically reviewed by our Pharmacist Sonia Khan

Hussain Abdeh Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct

Hussain Abdeh
MPharm: 2211840

Pharmacist Independent Prescriber

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