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What Are the Uses of Adapalene Cream?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Adapalene cream is a topical medication prescribed to treat cases of severe acne that may work by lowering the number of blackheads formed and encouraging skin cell exfoliation and renewal. This cream is a retinoid-like compound that can help prevent acne. Since acne typically takes six to eight weeks to develop underneath a patient's skin, the patient may notice worsening acne with treatment before it begins to clear up. This is because the medication can force the acne to the skin's surface while it works to prevent new acne from forming.

Following the initial six to eight weeks of treatment, it may take several more weeks before the patient notices an improvement in his skin condition. Patients should continue to use the cream even if improvements are gradual, and they should not discontinue the drug without consulting their doctors. When applying adapalene cream, the patient should be very careful to avoid getting the product into his mouth, nose, or eyes. It should also not be applied to skin that is affected by eczema, or skin that is sunburned or otherwise damaged.

Before applying adapalene cream, patients should wash the affected skin with a gentle cleanser or soap and pat it dry gently. Abrasive cleansers should be avoided, because these can irritate the skin. A thin layer of the cream should be evenly distributed over the affected area. It is typical for patients to feel a mild tingling feeling or sensation of warmth immediately following each application. Adapalene cream is typically applied once daily in the evening, or as directed by a doctor.

Some side effects may occur with the use of adapalene cream for severe acne, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Side effects are more likely to occur within the first two to four weeks of treatment, and they will typically dissipate following this time period. Patients may experience dryness of the skin or itchiness and scaling. Burning or stinging may occur, along with temporary redness.

More severe side effects are rare with this acne medication. Some patients may experience an allergic reaction, which can cause excessive peeling, crusting, or blistering of the skin. Allergic reactions may also cause a rash, facial swelling, and difficulty breathing. Patients should go to the emergency room immediately if they experience a reaction.

Certain precautions should be followed while using adapalene cream for acne. Patients must avoid tanning and excessive exposure to sunlight and should use a moisturizer that does not contain glycolic acids or alpha hydroxy. This cream is not recommended for use by children under the age of 12. Women who are nursing or pregnant should discuss potential risks with their doctors.

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Discussion Comments

By SarahGen — On Sep 10, 2014

I knew that I would get a few extra pimples in the beginning of adapalene cream. Honestly, it was not a big deal for me as I've seen much worse. The only issue I have on adapalene is dry, flaky skin. But I've found that applying a light moisturizer on my skin after the adapalene is absorbed, resolves this problem. My skin is no longer dry and flaky, but it's clear.

By turquoise — On Sep 09, 2014

@ysmina-- If the breakouts were extreme, it's possible that you also had an allergic sign to it. But I must say that everyone experiences worse acne initially on this treatment. Adapalene works but it takes a long time. Some people start seeing an improvement after the first month. For others, an improvement does not occur until after two or three months. So it takes a lot of patience but I think it's worth it.

By ysmina — On Sep 09, 2014

My acne was not too bad when my doctor prescribed adapalene. I had several bumps and blemishes at a time, and a few more during the time of the month but that was it. I wanted to clear up my skin and my doctor recommended this cream.

Unfortunately, I couldn't use this cream for more than four weeks. It made my skin so much worse. My face became unrecognizable. I had never seen so many pimples and whiteheads before. Some of them actually became cystic and developed a large pool of pus underneath. It was horrific and I still have the blemishes to prove it.

Although I was told that my acne might get worse before it gets better on this cream, the kind of reaction my skin had to the cream did not seem normal.

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