Differin and Purging: The Honest Guide

Does Differin Cause Purging
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Does Differin Cause Purging?

The fight against acne can be exhausting. If your doctor has recommended Differin, you may be wondering if you’ll experience purging. It’s possible to experience purging as a side effect of Differin due to it being a retinoid.

Many acne treatment products are capable of causing acne purging. This includes topical treatments that use Vitamin C, Alpha Hydroxy acids, Beta Hydroxy acids, Benzoyl Peroxide, or Retinoids. Treatments that use exfoliation, chemical peels, or in-office treatments can also cause purging before improvements occur.

As you can see, Retinoids are a type of acne treatment that can cause this purging effect. Soon after beginning a retinoid-based treatment, you may notice your acne getting worse. This is common and has no cause to worry; it takes a little patience and determination to get through the awkward phase. 

Let’s take an in-depth look at what purging is, how Differin may cause skin purging and some tips that may help you avoid this side-effect.

What Is Purging?

Skin purging is a term used to describe the flare-up, or worsening, of acne after starting a new treatment plan or medication. Not all people are prone to purging, but those who are will know they have to let their skin have time to adjust to a new treatment.

A good way to define purging is to consider it a quickening of existing acne breakout. The lifecycle of a breakout starts long before it’s visible on the skin. Purging results from the underlying breakouts that are being “pushed” to the surface as the medication begins working to combat the acne. 

What Causes Skin to Purge?

Many ingredients or methods used to treat acne work by exfoliating or removing the top layer of dead skin and exposing the breakouts to the surface. Purging is a sort of reset for your skin, removing all the build-up and congestion from your pores to allow for healthier cells to grow. 

Any products that make your cells turnover faster also have a chance to cause skin purging. When starting any new acne treatment, it’s best to follow instructions directly and slowly add the new topicals to avoid overwhelming your skin.

How Is Purging Different to a Regular Breakout?

Most of the time, you won’t struggle to notice the purging that comes with a new treatment regimen. It can sometimes feel counterintuitive when the treatment seems to make your skin break out more. So what sets purging apart from your average breakout?

The main identifying factor of skin purging is the speedy onset and quicker than a normal breakout. You may also experience a worse breakout overall since more blemishes are likely to surface at one time.

When your skin is purging, it’s common to see a wide range of acne types, including whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and cysts. These are typically referred to as inflammatory acne and are the result of your body’s inflammatory response. 

If you’ve had worsening acne breakouts after starting a new treatment and the breakout hasn’t started to clear up after 4 to 6 weeks, it may be time to reach out to your doctor for other treatment options. By this timeframe, any purging symptoms should have cleared. A lasting increase in your breakouts could be a sign that the treatment isn’t working for your skin.

Breakouts in areas that normally don’t have any blemishes can also be a sign that the medication or treatment isn’t agreeing with your skin. Purging should occur in areas that you normally experience breakouts, as the purge is accelerating the already existing infection and inflammation.

Will Differin Make My Skin Purge?

The shortest answer to this is yes; it’s possible Differin can cause your skin to purge. Luckily, Differin is a mild retinoid called adapalene, so whether or not you experience purging is highly dependent on your skin sensitivity. 

If you’re one of the unlucky people to be prone to skin purging, you’ll be relieved to know it’s usually short-lived. A purge usually flares up and heals much faster than a breakout normally does, and you should start seeing clearer skin in as little as 4-6 weeks. 

Your mileage may vary, of course, since everyone’s skin is different. More severe cases of acne may lead to a longer period of purging. Even in those severe instances, results should be noticeable in 8 to 12 weeks.

Like with most medications or treatments, it can be hard to predict if you will experience side effects. The same is true for Differin. If you have used other retinoid-based treatment options and experienced purging, you will likely have similar purging when starting Differin. 

On the other hand, if you’ve used similar treatments in the past and had no purging, you may be in the clear. In either case, it’s best to prepare for the possibility that your skin may purge as a result of a new treatment involving Differin.

Tips to Avoid Purging With Differin

Purging is usually hard to predict and out of your hands. Understandably, you may get discouraged at the start of treatment if your acne gets much worse than you’re used to. Fortunately, you can do a few things to reduce the likelihood of experiencing purging with Differin and other topical treatments. 

Start Slowly

Slowly incorporating Differin into your skincare routine can be a good way to minimize the effects of purging. While this may not be a fool-proof method, you stand far better odds of avoiding a purge by starting a new topical treatment slowly. 

You can accomplish this by using it only once in the first week and adding one time each week until you’re up to the directed usage instructions. 

Moisturize Well First

Dry skin can amplify your risk of purging or breakouts in general. It’s important to moisturize your skin every time you cleanse, and especially before applying medications. When you’re first starting a new acne treatment, you’ll want to pay close attention to the hydration portion of your routine. 

Use Gentle Products

If you know you’re going to be using a retinoid, like Differin, or a similar product that may cause purging, you may want to take a moment to consider what other products you’ll be using with your treatment. Opting for a gentler option may go a long way towards preventing the dreaded purge from happening to you.

The less irritation caused to your skin by the products you use, the lower your chance is of having a breakout or purge. Gentle products are a great thing to consider whether you’re trying to prevent purging at the start of a new treatment or if you’re trying to reduce how often you have breakouts.

Find Your Frequency With Differin

Medications and treatment plans should be taken and followed as instructed by your doctor. However, if you notice adverse reactions to using the treatment every day, you may need to discuss reducing the frequency with your doctor. Your skin may benefit more from less frequent usage.

In many cases, you may be able to reduce the frequency to every other day or only one to two times per week. Informing your doctor about recurring irritation or flare-ups can help them advise the best course of action based on the needs of your skin.