Known for its ability to soothe inflammation caused by acne lesions and improve moderate to severe acne in as little as several weeks, Differin has become a favorite choice for many who are dealing with this pesky condition.
However, although Differin is generally considered safe and effective, it should not be used on broken skin as it could further irritate the affected area and cause unnecessary discomfort.
But does that mean you have to forego using Differin altogether if you have a few pimples or blemishes here and there?
Read on to find out when you can use Differin and when it’s best to avoid it.
What Counts as Broken Skin?
Almost every skincare product on the market has a warning on the packaging that usually says the product shouldn’t be applied to damaged and broken skin.
When we think of broken skin, we usually think of cuts, scrapes, and open wounds that are bleeding.
However, this warning can still be confusing because while you may not have broken skin in the literal sense of the word, your skin can still be damaged due to inflammatory conditions.
Here are some examples of broken skin that should be an indication you need to steer clear of using a particular product:
Abrasions are minor injuries to the top layer of skin that usually occur from friction and can happen if you accidentally scratch yourself with your nails or a sharp object.
The most common symptom of abrasion is tenderness at the site of injury. You may also see redness, swelling, and bruising. If the abrasion is deeper, you may see a small amount of bleeding.
When abrasions are present on the skin, skincare products are likely to sting or even burn, so using them is not advised unless the product is specifically made for treating abrasions.
Fissures are tiny cracks in the skin that can be caused by dryness, repeated motion, or pressure.
The most common type of fissure is a cracked heel, which is often caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes or going barefoot on hard surfaces. Fissures can also occur around the nails and in the corners of the mouth. Symptoms of fissures include pain, itching, and bleeding.
Skincare products can irritate fissures, so it’s best to avoid using them until the fissure has healed.
Eczema or contact dermatitis is a condition that causes the skin to become inflamed and irritated and form itchy, dry patches that are usually surrounded by redness.
There are many different types of eczema, but the most common form is atopic dermatitis, which is often hereditary.
Other forms of eczema include contact dermatitis (caused by an allergic reaction to a substance), seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), and nummular dermatitis (coin-shaped lesions that often occur after a skin injury.)
Symptoms of eczema include dry, itchy skin, redness, swelling, and cracking.
Skincare products can further irritate the skin and worsen symptoms, so avoiding products that contain known irritants such as fragrance, alcohol, exfoliating acids, and retinoids is advised.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the skin to form raised, red, scaly patches, which are often itchy and can be painful.
Psoriasis is thought to be caused by an overactive immune system and is often triggered by factors such as stress, trauma, infection, and certain medications. And while there is no cure for psoriasis, symptoms can be managed with treatment.
Some products can irritate psoriasis plaques, so it’s essential to carefully choose cosmetics when dealing with this chronic condition.
Rashes can be caused by a number of things, including allergies, infections, and certain medical conditions. They can also result from using a new skincare product that doesn’t agree with your skin.
Rashes can vary from mild and barely noticeable to severe and life-threatening.
The most common symptom of a rash is red, inflamed skin. Other symptoms can include itching, swelling, and blistering.
If you develop a rash after using a new skincare product, this is usually a sign of an allergic reaction, so you need to discontinue use immediately and consult a healthcare professional if the rash doesn’t go away or gets worse.
Sores are open wounds that can be caused by a number of things, including infections, trauma, and certain medical conditions.
They can also vary from mild and barely noticeable to severe and life-threatening.
The most common symptom of a sore is pain. Other symptoms can include redness, swelling, and discharge.
Developing sores after using a new skincare product is another sign of an allergic reaction or a reaction to a contaminated product, so you should discontinue use immediately and consult a healthcare professional if the sore doesn’t go away or gets worse.
Does Acne Count as Broken Skin?
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that results in the formation of pimples of various severity.
However, although acne is technically a bacterial disease, it doesn’t count as broken skin unless the lesions are oozing, weeping, or bleeding.
If you do have open wounds, it’s best to avoid using any skincare product, as applying these can spread the infected cellular debris to areas where the skin is clear.
Therefore, avoid using anything until the oozing, weeping, or bleeding has stopped, just to be safe.
What is Differin and How Does it Work?
Differin is the brand name for adapalene, a component that belongs to the retinoid family used to treat acne.
It increases cell turnover, which helps to unclog pores and prevent new pimples from forming.
Adapalene is available as a 0.1% gel in over-the-counter products like Differin or La Roche Posay’s Acne Gel, or 0.3% cream available by prescription, and it’s applied topically to the affected area once a day.
Can You Use Differin on Broken Skin?
As a retinoid, Differin won’t necessarily help heal broken skin, and the potential for irritation is moderate to high; therefore, it’s best to avoid using it on open wounds or over areas where conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rashes are present.
Additionally, Differin can potentially cause more irritation in the area, especially if you are in the beginning stage of using it and are going through the initial side effects, including redness, dryness, and peeling.
If you have broken skin, it’s best to allow it to heal first before using any products, like Differin, that could potentially irritate it.
Can You Use Differin on Acne?
Differin is an acne medication, so you can safely use it over the entire face and neck as long as you don’t have any open wounds or lesions that are oozing, weeping, or bleeding.
If your acne is particularly severe, your doctor may prescribe a 0.3% cream, which is available by prescription only. For milder acne, you can safely use the over-the-counter Differin product, which contains 0.1% adapalene.
Both strengths should be applied topically to the affected area once a day, followed by a nourishing, non-comedogenic moisturizer that will help prevent dryness and irritation, which are two of the most prominent side effects when starting Differin or any form of retinoid.
My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.
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