Adapalene Hits Market
Jordan V. Wang, MD, MBE
Are you one of the 50 million people who suffer from acne in the United States? Have you already tried over-the-counter salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide without much relief? Well now there is a new over-the-counter medication that used to be available by prescription only. The extra kicker here is that this product also helps with fighting wrinkles.
On July 8, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever over-the-counter topical retinoid, adapalene, for the treatment of acne. Adapalene (Differin Gel 0.1%) was first approved for prescription use in 1996. It has since become an extremely popular medication, especially for patients who have sensitive skin. Adapalene tends to cause less irritation for patients than the other harsher topical retinoids.
Topical retinoids are generally prescribed as first-line therapy for acne of all different types, either as stand-alone treatment or in combination with other acne medications. They work by helping to exfoliate your skin from the inside out and reducing inflammation. Topical retinoids can be a powerful product to have in your acne-fighting arsenal. However, they work best for treating and preventing comedonal acne, which include your typical white-heads and black-heads. Salicylic acid is still useful for oily acne-prone skin, while benzoyl peroxide remains helpful for red and irritated pimples. A combination of products may work best for you.
It is also widely known that topical retinoids help combat wrinkles by boosting dermal collagen and increasing skin cell turnover. For this reason, many patients have asked their doctors for prescriptions. While insurance doesn’t cover the cost of these medications when given for cosmetic reasons alone, patients have always been more than willing to pay out of pocket. Now, with the FDA approval of adapalene, we may see a large spike in consumers buying this product solely for this indication. However, the majority of studies showing benefits in decreasing fine lines and wrinkles have come from adapalene’s sister compounds, tretinoin and tazarotene, which still remain prescription use only. The open season on adapalene may ultimately alter the landscape of our billion-dollar anti-aging industry.
With the recent approval of adapalene, start looking on the shelves of your local store soon. This product can improve your acne and maybe even your wrinkles as well. Your clearer, smoother, and younger-looking skin may thank you later.