Question: I’ve had acne since I was a teenager, but now I’m 37 and its still a problem. I wanted my doctor to give me Retin A, but she insisted that Differin would work better. Its not covered by my heath plan and I can buy Retin A online for a lot less. Any advice?
Answer: Its sad but true that acne can remain a problem long past high school. Differin ( adapalene) is actually the newest form of Retin A ( aka tretinoin). This new kid on the block has several advantages than its older cousins. It is less irritating than traditional Retin A, yet can be more effective preventing blocked-pores. It also acts both to reduce inflammation and helps the skin shed old dead skin cells. But what makes adapalene an anti-acne rock star is its ability to get along well with other acne fighters. Both benzoyl peroxide which kills acne causing bacteria and clindamycin which reduces inflammation, reduce effectiveness of Retin A. By contrast, Differin ( adapalene) works beautifully with other acne medications. You can layer all three at night and then use the benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin during the day. To round out dynamic acne care, wash your face with an oil free cleanser like Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash and be sure to use an oil-free physical sunscreen such as SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF50 during the day. Keep in mind that Differin like the original Retin A increases skin sensitivity.
This triple threat program is the current gold standard for acne care and you should see big improvements in 2-3 months. If things don’t get better, you probably have some form of hormonal acne and will need hormonal therapy. I agree that its outrageous that most healthcare plans refuse to cover any form of tretinoin much past adolesence. Retin A is now available in less expensive generic form while newer Differin is still under patant. Despite the increase in costs, I think your doctor made a good call.