Differin (Adapalene) Vs. Rosacea

Differin is a brand name of Adapalene, traditionally used to try and combat acne, rather than rosacea.

It came to my attention when I was looking around for other topical creams that might help limit my rosacea symptoms – As far as I can tell, I have papulopustular rosacea (the type with lots of spots in the usual rosacea places). I came across this NCBI article which was about a study comparing the use of Differin cream against Metronidazole gel for the treatment of rosacea. I quite enjoy reading medical articles and journals so found the article quite interesting. If you’re not a nerd like me, the conclusion is; “Adapalene gel is well tolerated and can be used as an alternative for topical treatment of papulopustular rosacea“. In other words, it’s certainly not going to cure every little spot, but in some cases has been found to be as effective as Metronidazole. As an aside, I tried Metro gel years ago and it didn’t work for me.

I also knew of someone from work who had tried it for a traditional acne treatment and had a good result so I decided to give it a go. I looked online to see if I could buy it over the counter and found that Boots have an online acne clinic (amazing). It’s not for just anyone to have a stab at random treatments and your GP is notified if they send you a product – but if you have a diagnosis you can complete a health questionnaire and they will let you know what treatments might be suitable. I used it to order Differin cream and it arrived within around 3 working days.

The directions are simple – you apply a thin amount of the cream to affected areas and gently rub it in before bed. I read the instruction leaflet carefully and they emphasise using a small amount to avoid irritation so I recommend you heed their advice. I applied it to a cleansed dry face and avoided putting any other products over the top of it (such as night cream) to give it the best possible chance of sinking in and doing it’s thing.

Differin (Adapalene) cream

The results

I tried using this for about 7 weeks in total before I wrote this post – it’s always important to give any new product a chance to work and I usually think about 6 weeks is a good amount of time. In that 6 weeks, I applied it every single night at the same time and stuck to the instructions. I didn’t use any other medications or face creams at the same time (save for my normal daily moisturiser) and I kept everything else in my routine the same.

I didn’t suffer any bad side effects while using Differin. It didn’t cause any stinging, burning or itching on my skin. It also didn’t make any of my symptoms any worse, including my facial redness. However, overall, it didn’t really make a difference. I did notice a small decrease in the number of actual ‘spots’ that formed into heads on my skin, but likewise, there wasn’t any overall reduction in the appearance of my skin. The best way I can think to summarise it is to say that it kept the spots at bay and stopped them progressing, but didn’t clear my skin or stop them from occurring in the first place.

I would still recommend trying Differin/Adapalene (with the approval of a GP) if you have papulopustular rosacea as medications work differently for everyone. This isn’t a product that would be suitable if you just suffer with redness, as it’s purpose is to target the acne type spots.

A disappointing result for me – but worth a try! Has anyone else tried this cream and had a different result? I’d love to hear about some different experiences!




  1. Rebecca
    July 15, 2018 / 4:48 am

    This stuff did to me what PIxi glow tonic did to you.. my rosacea is absolutely ANGRY after about 8 weeks. I think it’s time to try something different… Maybe I’ll give the liquid gold a go.

    • becausenicole
      July 15, 2018 / 8:46 am

      Oh no that’s awful. What type of rosacea do you have? It’s so weird how skin reacts so differently to things.. and rosacea just makes it WAY worse!

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