How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Adapalene belongs to a family of medications known as retinoids. It is used to treat common forms of acne. It works by reducing the number of acne-blocked oil glands (plugs or comedones) and preventing the formation of the plugs. You may see an improvement in acne in about 4 to 8 weeks.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are using this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each g of topical cream contains adapalene 0.1% (1 mg). Nonmedicinal ingredients: carbomer 934P, cyclomethicone, edetate disodium, glycerin, methyl gluceth-20 sesquistearate, methyl glucose sesquistearate, methylparaben, phenoxyethanol, propylparaben, purified water, squalane, and trolamine.

Each g of topical gel contains adapalene 0.1% (1 mg). Nonmedicinal ingredients: carbomer 940, edetate disodium, methylparaben, poloxamer 182, propylene glycol, purified water, and sodium hydroxide and/or hydrochloric acid for pH adjustment.

How should I use this medication?

Apply a thin layer of adapalene once a day before bedtime after washing the area with a gentle cleanser and drying gently with a towel. It should be applied to all the areas that are prone to acne; this may include the chest and back as well as the face. Do not apply adapalene to cuts, open wounds, sunburned areas, or areas of the skin with eczema.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss one application, do not apply it more than once per day. Skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule the following day at bedtime. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing an application, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use adapalene if you:

  • are allergic to adapalene or any other ingredients of the medication
  • have eczema or seborrheic dermatitis

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who uses this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people using this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • burning or stinging
  • discomfort
  • dry skin
  • itchiness
  • peeling
  • redness
  • skin irritation
  • sunburn

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • excessively dry, red, swollen, or blistered skin

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Area of use: Adapalene is for external use only. Do not apply to areas near the eyes, lips, angles of the nose, mucous membranes, and open wounds.

Cosmetics: Avoid the use of certain cosmetics that might make your skin worse. Ask a cosmetician for non-comedogenic cosmetics or use water-based makeup. Remove any makeup before applying adapalene.

Sunlight: Avoid exposure to excessive sunlight (outdoors, sunlamps, and tanning beds). If sun exposure cannot be avoided, use a sunscreen (minimum SPF 30). Waxing as a hair removal method should be avoided.

Pregnancy: Women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should not use adapalene. Women who use adapalene should ensure that they are using adequate birth control while they are using this medication.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if adapalene passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children under the age of 12.

Seniors: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for people over the age of 65.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There are no known interactions with other medications when adapalene is used as directed. However, adapalene can irritate the skin, so other products such as harsh or abrasive cleansers, strong drying agents or other products that may be irritating should be avoided in the areas of the skin where adapalene is applied. Many over-the-counter acne medications contain sulfur, resorcinol or salicylic acid. It is best to stop using these before starting adapalene therapy. When using other topical acne medications (e.g., erythromycin topical solution, clindamycin phosphate topical solution or benzoyl peroxide), it is best to use adapalene at night and the others in the morning.

Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. In many cases, interactions are intended or are managed by close monitoring. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.