What is the difference between Differin and Epiduo?

Woman using differin and epiduo

Differin (adapalene) and Epiduo are 2 gels used for acne treatment. Differin is sold in 2 forms. Adapalene 0.1% which can be bought without a prescription (over the counter) and adapalene 0.3% that requires a prescription. Epiduo is a combination of adapalene 0.1% and benzoyl peroxide 2.5%. Epiduo Forte is a combination of adapalene 0.3% and benzoyl peroxide 2.5%.

The Differin gel 0.3% would mainly cover comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads), and only slightly the inflammatory acne. Benzoyl peroxide, the single most effective anti-acne ingredient is effective on both blackheads and inflammatory red pimples. The addition of Benzoyl peroxide to adapalene in the Epiduo gel allows it to cover both inflammatory acne (papules, pustules), and comedonal acne.

The main problem with differin(adapalene) as with other topical retinoids is its weak effect on the most annoying acne lesions – the red inflammatory pimples.

The updated acne treatment guidelines of the American Academy of Dermatology recommend using retinoids as single treatment just for comedones. If there are also inflammatory red pimples, retinoids are not recommended as a single treatment and should be combined with more effective ingredients that can kill bacteria (benzoyl peroxide or antifictions). “Topical retinoids are recommended as monotherapy in primarily comedonal acne, or in combination with topical or oral antimicrobials in patients with mixed or primarily inflammatory acne lesions. “

The secondary problem with products such as Differin and Epiduo is their high irritation/benefit ratio. In addition to direct irritation, found is actually all users, these products are photosensitizers, limiting their use in summer.

Side effects reported with Differin and Epiduo:

Adapalene the common ingredient in Differin and Epiduo has several unique side effects that should be taken into account.

Sun sensitivity: as all retinoids, the adapalene found in Differin and Epiduo causes the skin to be very sensitive to the sun. Without proper sun avoidance, this may lead to sunburn, redness, and sunspots. When you are using Differin or Epiduo, do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths

Adapalene found in Differin and Epiduo causes skin irritation, redness, and purging of the skin. Adapalene may aggravate atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis.

Adapalene (same as all retinoids) is contraindicated in pregnancy, breastfeeding, and kids below 12.

Adapalene is more effective on blackheads but frequently has a slow effect on acne. When using Differin or Epiduo, acne may get worse at first. It may take 2 to 12 weeks before you see the full effect. (GoodRx).

When using Differin and Epiduo, it’s not recommended to use products that may dry the skin like medicated cosmetics, products that contain alcohol, astringents, spices, limes, or abrasive soaps or cleaners. Using these products together with adapalene containing medications cause severe burning, redness, crusting, or swelling of the treated areas

Using Epiduo together with other skin medications can cause severe skin irritation. Epiduo is connected with possible allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue

Pricing of Differin and Epiduo (Walmart):

Differin 0.1% 45ml Walmart $64
Differin 0.3% 45ml Walmart $83
Epiduo 0.1%/2.5% 45ml Walmart $119
Epiduo 0.3%/2.5% 45ml Walmart $416

Read more:

Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris: American Academy of Dermatology
Differin pricing and adverse effects: GoodRx
Epiduo pricing and adverse effects: GoodRx  
How long does it take Epiduo to start working?
Is Epiduo better than Benzoyl Peroxide?

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