Differin Gel

  • Reduces the appearance of spots
  • Reduces redness and inflammation
  • Removes blackheads
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From As low as £28.99

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 gel?

Differin gel is a topical gel that is renowned for treating the symptoms of acne.

It contains a retinoid medicine called adapalene, which is a form of vitamin A and helps to increase skin cell turnover and reduce the growth of keratin skin cells that normally block the pores and cause acne.

You need a prescription to buy Differin gel online. It is suitable for adults and children over the age of 12.

What is Differin gel used to treat?

Differin is a popular treatment for acne symptoms. It is also available as Differin cream, which works in the same way as the gel, but may be more suitable for sensitive skin. The gel version is better suited to people who have oily skin as it dries faster.

Acne is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that most commonly occurs on the face, neck, shoulders, chest or back. Although it can occur at any age, it is most likely to affect people going through puberty, as it is often caused by hormonal changes in the body.

Sometimes, acne will go away on its own. However, if it is severe or does not go away in time, many people are prescribed a medical treatment like Differin gel to help target the cause of the issue. Seeking medical attention for your acne helps to tackle the problem faster and also reduces the risk of scarring.

How does Differin gel work for acne?

Differin gel contains the active ingredient adapalene, which is a type of vitamin A. This gel works by reducing the growth of skin cells on the surface of the skin (keratin). These skin cells can block your pores along with a substance called sebum and cause acne.

Sebum is produced naturally by your sebaceous glands; it is an oily substance that helps to keep the skin supple and smooth. However, acne can often be the result of an overproduction of sebum, which mixes with the dead keratin skin cells and block the pores. When pores are blocked, they become inflamed, which can cause spots, blackheads and whiteheads to form.

Differin reduces the number of keratin skin cells, which helps to unclog the pores. This lets the sebum escape, which reduces inflammation and spots, whiteheads and blackheads.

Furthermore, Differin increases skin cell turnover, which further helps to exfoliate the skin’s natural layers and reduce the risk that the pores will become blocked again.

How to use Differin gel

Always follow your doctor’s instructions when using any medication. Read the patient information leaflet for detailed instructions before you use Differin for the first time.

Differin gel is for external use only. Do not apply it internally or swallow the gel.

Apply Differin gel in the evening before you go to bed.

  1. Wash the affected areas thoroughly with water before applying the gel.
  2. Apply a thin film of gel to the affected areas with your fingertip. Rub it in gently.
  3. Wash your hands after you have applied Differin gel.

Who can use Differin gel?

Differin gel is not suitable for you if:

  • You are allergic to adapalene or any of the other ingredients contained in this medicine (please see the Ingredients tab for full details)
  • You are pregnant
  •  You are trying to get pregnant

You can read more about precautions to take while using Differin gel on the Warnings tab on this page.

As ever, you should read the patient information leaflet for a full list of reasons why this medicine may not be suitable for you to use.

Can you buy Differin gel over the counter?

No, Differin gel is not for sale over the counter. It must be prescribed by a doctor.

Can you buy Differin gel online in the UK?

Yes, you can buy Differin gel online in the UK, but you should only do so from regulated pharmacies, like Medicine Direct. This will ensure you buy only genuine and approved versions of any medicine you need.

Before you can order Differin gel from Medicine Direct, you will need to have an online consultation to make sure that this medicine is suitable for you. This involves filling out a confidential questionnaire, which will be reviewed by a registered pharmacist, doctor or prescriber, who will review your condition and answers to ensure this is the right treatment for you.

Differin gel alternatives

Differin cream is also available. This medicine also contains adapalene and works in the same way as the gel but is better suited to people with dry or sensitive skin.

A range of other topical acne treatments are also available to be ordered from Medicine Direct after an online consultation. These include:

  • Acnecide gel
  • Epiduo gel also contains the same active ingredient and is available to buy online from Medicine direct.
  • Zineryt lotion
  • Duac gel
  • Finacea gel

We stock oral medications for acne too, including antibiotics like Erythromycin, Tetralysal and Minocycline.

Differin Gel Indications and Dose

All of our prescribers follow NICE guidelines when prescribing Differin Gel.

If you forget to use it

If you miss an application of Differin gel, apply it as soon as you remember. Do not apply a double dose to try and make up for missing an earlier one.

If you use too much gel

Using more than the recommended dose will not work to treat your acne any faster. However, it may cause skin redness, irritation, peeling or discomfort.

Speak to your doctor if this occurs.

How to store Differin

Store this medicine out of the sight and reach of children.

Store in the original container in temperatures below 25C. Do not freeze.

Do not use the gel if it has passed the expiry date stated on the carton and tube. The expiry date is the last day of the month stated.

Ask your pharmacist about how to dispose of any gel you may have remaining at the end of treatment. This will help to protect the environment. Do not dispose of remaining medicine via wastewater or household waste.

How long does Differin gel take to work?


It can take up to 12 weeks of using Differin gel before you see a real improvement in your acne. You should see your doctor after using the gel for this length of time.

Can Differin gel help to treat scars?


Differin gel can help with the appearance of scars by smoothing and exfoliating the skin and promoting skin cell turnover. However, it is not prescribed as an acne scar treatment.

Should I wash Differin gel off in the morning?


You should apply Differin at night after washing your skin and then wash your skin as normal the next morning.

Can Differin treat hormonal acne?


Yes, Differin can help to treat hormonal acne. However, it can only be used by adolescents over the age of 12.

Can you apply Differin gel under the eyes?


You can apply the gel under the eyes if you are suffering from acne in this area. You must take care to not get any of the gel in your eyes. Rinse them thoroughly with plenty of water if this does happen.

Can Differin gel improve wrinkles?


It has been suggested that Differin gel can improve wrinkles. While there is no firm evidence to prove this, the gel does work to smooth and exfoliate the skin by increasing cell turnover, which can improve the appearance of skin.

Should you moisturise before or after using Differin?


You should moisturise once Differin gel has had time to be absorbed into the skin.

Can Differin make my acne worse?


Your acne may seem to get worse before it gets better during the early stages of treatment. However, it is important to remember that it can take up to 12 weeks before you see a significant improvement in your acne. You will need to be consistent with your application of the gel for the best results.

Does Differin work to fade dark spots?


Differin helps to increase cell turnover and exfoliate the skin, which may aid in reducing the appearance of dark spots. However, it should not be used purely for this purpose.

Does Differin make your face red?


Skin redness is a possible side effect of using Differin. If you suffer any skin irritation while using this treatment, tell your doctor.

Differin Gel Side Effects

Like any medicine, Differin gel can cause side effects. However, not everyone who uses this gel will experience an adverse reaction to it.

Doing a patch test is advisable before you start using a new topical treatment, as this will check to see if you are allergic to the medicine.

Tell your doctor if you experience any side effects while using Differin gel.

Common Side Effects

The common side effects of Differin may affect up to 1 in 10 people:

  • Burning sensation of the skin
  • Dry skin
  • Skin redness
  • Skin irritation

Uncommon side effects may occur in up to 1 in 100 people:

  • Acne
  • Skin peeling
  • Itching
  • Sunburn
  • Skin discomfort
  • Local skin reaction (contact dermatitis)

The following side effects may occur at an unknown frequency:

  • Lightening of darker skin
  • Darkening of fair skin
  • Skin pain or swelling
  • Allergic contact reaction
  • Eyelids become red, irritated, swollen or itchy
  • Burning at the site of application

Allergic reaction

In rare cases, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to medicine. If you get any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately:

  • A skin rash that may be red, itchy, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty in breathing or talking
  • Swelling in your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Tightness in your chest or throat

You may need to be treated in hospital.

Always read the patient information leaflet before you start using Differin gel for a full list of side effects. The leaflet will also provide guidance on what to do if you get any.

Differin Gel Warnings and Drug Interactions

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are currently taking any other medication, including medicine you can buy without a prescription. They should also know if you are planning to take any other medicine while using Differin gel.

You can use other medicines to treat acne (containing erythromycin, clindamycin or benzoyl peroxide). However, these must be applied in the morning and Differin must be applied at night.

You can use cosmetic products as long as they do not cause dry skin or blackheads.

Precautions

If applying the gel to your face, avoid contact with the eyes, nostrils and mouth. If the gel accidentally gets into any of these areas, rinse thoroughly with warm water. If you suffer any vision problems or pain after this, seek medical attention.

Avoid exposure to sunlight and UV light (such as sunbeds) while using Differin gel.

Do not apply Differin gel to any areas of skin that have cuts or scrapes. It should also not be applied to areas affected by eczema.

Tell your doctor if you find that this gel makes your skin irritated or sensitive. You may need to use it less frequently, or even stop using it until your skin settles down.

Differin contains propylene glycol, which may cause skin irritation. It also contains methyl parahydroxybenzoate, which can cause allergic reactions.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Do not use Differin gel if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.

You will need to stop using this medicine if you become pregnant during treatment. Tell your doctor straight away if this happens.

You can use Differin gel while breastfeeding, but do not apply it to your chest to ensure the baby doesn’t come into contact with the medicine.

See the patient information leaflet for full details on warnings and precautions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.

Differin Gel 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.

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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