|Grade||Indication||Size of effect||Comments|
|A||Wrinkle treatment||Strong||Improves fine and coarse wrinkles by restoring dermal collagen|
|A||Acne treatment||Strong||Reduces comedones, papules and pustules, and is suitable for long term maintenance therapy|
|A||Smoother Skin||Strong||Diminishes skin roughness|
|A||Tighter skin||Strong||Tightens loose and sagging skin|
|B||Skin lightening||Moderate||Decreases the darkness of brown spots by reducing epidermal pigmentation. Also improves sallow skin.|
Adapalene is a third-generation topical retinoid primarily used in the treatment of mild-moderate acne and wrinkles.
Adapalene prevents breakouts, blackheads, whiteheads, blemishes and clogged pores as well while restoring skin tone and texture by clearing acne. Adapalene can help reduce the risk of scarring and hyperpigmentation by treating acne.
Adapalene improves and repairs the epidermal (hyperpigmentation and surface roughness) and dermal (fine wrinkles) layers in the skin. It also reduces excess propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria associated with acne development.
All medications have some side effects so it is important to be aware, however, do not be alarmed as you may not experience them.
Many of the side effects associated with Adapalene last for only a short time and can resolve after a few weeks of use. Using a lower strength Adapalene product to begin with can reduce the likelihood of side effects.
Some of the most common side effects are:
It is important to immediately stop use and go to your nearest hospital emergency department should you have an allergic reaction to Adapalene. Signs of an allergic reaction include a skin rash, itching, shortness of breath and/or a swollen face.
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Topical retinoids have been used to treat acne for almost four decades and are recommended as a first line treatment option either on their own or in combination with other treatments for mild acne. They are also recommended as a first line treatment option for moderate and severe acne in combination with other treatments.
Adapalene has been available since before the millennium but historically tretinoin was the only available topical retinoid. Use of tretinoin was limited due to side effects of local irritation, which are not as problematic for 3rd generation topical retinoids like adapalene.
Topical retinoids including adapalene are especially good at treating comedones (black heads and white heads), and also have anti-inflammatory effects.
A randomized trial of 297 patients treated with adapalene 0.1% solution or tretinoin 0.025% gel found both treatments to be clinically and statistically effective reducing inflammatory (47% and 50% respectively) and non-inflammatory acne lesions (57% and 54%) compared to baseline.  There have been many other similar trials similarly showing adapalene is as effective as tretinoin, which has been shown by a meta-analysis combining results of five studies with 900 patients in total. This showed that although adapalene was as effective as tretinoin it tends to work faster, and is tolerated better in terms of local side effects.
If monotherapy is not effective, combination of topical agents can be used, or topical agents in combination with oral antibiotics.
Adapalene is available as a combination gel with benzoyl peroxide. This has the advantage of being good against comedones, and it does not contain antibiotics so there are not concerns about resistance, however irritation can be a problem. This combination gel has been studied in a randomized, double blind, controlled study of 1670 patients. Patients were given the combination product, adapalene alone, benzoyl peroxide alone or placebo. They found that the combination product was significantly more effective at reducing inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions compared to monotherapy.
Adapalene has also shown to work well in combination with antibiotics and it is actually recommended that oral antibiotics for acne should be combined with topical benzoyl peroxide or a topical retinoid. One study of 467 patients showed that a combination or oral doxycycline with topical adapalene was more effective at treating inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions compared to oral doxycycline alone.
Oral isotretinoin (roaccutane) is currently the gold standard treatment for severe acne. A study of 266 patients comparing adapalene/benzoyl peroxide combination gel and oral doxycycline against oral isotretinoin concluded that although isotretinoin was more effective, adapalene/benzoyl peroxide combination gel with oral doxycycline had a better side effect and safety profile than isotretinoin and should be considered for patients intolerant, unable or unwilling to take oral isotretinoin.
Adapalene has also been shown to be effective in maintaining acne free skin after previous successful acne treatment.
A randomized controlled trial of 253 participants who had received successful treatment in the previous 12 weeks with either adapalene and doxycycline or doxycycline and placebo gel, were then randomized to receive either adapalene maintenance therapy or placebo for the next 16 weeks. The adapalene group resulted in a significantly larger proportion of patients with successful maintenance compared to the placebo group (75% vs 54%). In a similar trial it has also been shown to be an effective maintenance treatment after successful lymecycline.
Combination treatment of adapalene with benzoyl peroxide has been shown to be successful maintenance therapy after treatment with isotretinoin.
There is not as much evidence for the anti-ageing effects of adapalene compared to tretinoin, which has been proven in many good quality clinical trials. However there is some evidence for adapalene, and it can be used as second line treatment for people who are intolerant to conventional topical retinoids like tretinoin.
A randomized controlled trial of 90 patients has shown that adapalene effectively reduces solar lentigines (age spots). With adapalene gel 0.1% and 0.3%, 57% and 59% of patients respectively had lighter lesions at 9 months compared to 36% in the vehicle group. There was also a significant reduction in fine wrinkles in the treatment group.