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Aczone vs Differin

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Aczone Information

Differin Information

Comparative Analysis

Aczone Prescription Information

Differin Prescription Information

Aczone Side Effects

Differin Side Effects

Safety Information

Cost Information

Market Analysis



For patients dealing with acne, certain drugs that alter the concentrations of compounds in the skin can help in managing symptoms and improving overall complexion. Aczone and Differin are two such drugs that are prescribed for treating acne. They each impact different processes within the skin but both have shown effectiveness in reducing acne lesions. Aczone is a topical gel containing 5% dapsone, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties to reduce swelling and redness associated with pimples. Differin, on the other hand, contains adapalene - a type of retinoid that helps regulate cell turnover to prevent pores from clogging up with dead skin cells - one of the primary causes of blemishes.

Aczone vs Differin Side By Side

Brand NameAczoneDifferin
ContraindicationsShould not be used with drugs containing sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide. Avoid excessive sunlight exposure.Should not be used with drugs containing sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide. Avoid excessive sunlight exposure.
CostAround $300 to $350 for a 60g tubeAbout $35 for a 45g tube
Generic NameDapsoneAdapalene
Most Serious Side EffectSevere skin reactions, blue or gray appearance of lips, nails, palms, and inside your mouth if absorbed into the blood.Severe redness or discomfort on the treated skin areas, signs of an allergic reaction.
Severe Drug InteractionsInteractions with sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide containing drugs.Interactions with sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide containing drugs.
Typical DoseA pea-sized amount applied to the affected area once dailyA pea-sized dab applied once daily in the evening to affected areas

What is Aczone?

Dapsone (the generic name for Aczone) is a topical antibiotic medication that marks an advancement from traditional acne treatments. Dapsone was approved by the FDA in 2005. Aczone works by reducing inflammation within the skin and destroying bacteria associated with acne, effectively limiting its spread and severity. It is prescribed primarily as a treatment for mild to moderate forms of acne vulgaris. Aczone has a selective influence on inflammatory processes in the skin, with less impact on bacterial populations elsewhere in the body, resulting in it having fewer systemic side effects than oral antibiotics used to treat acne.

On the other hand, Adapalene (the generic name for Differin) belongs to a class of medications called retinoids which were introduced after topical antibiotics like dapsone. Approved by the FDA in 1996, Differin works differently: it acts on retinoic acid receptors present on cells to normalize cell turnover within follicles preventing clogging—thus curtailing pimple formation from its root cause—and also reduces inflammation related to acne. It's generally well-tolerated but may lead to dryness or irritation of skin initially before improvement sets in.

What conditions is Aczone approved to treat?

Aczone is approved for the treatment of various skin conditions:

  • Acne vulgaris, a common type of acne characterized by whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples
  • Inflammatory lesions associated with acne in patients 12 years and older
  • Non-inflammatory lesions in adult patients (in combination with another drug)

Differin is mainly used for the treatment of mild to moderate acne. It helps decrease the number and severity of acne pimples and promotes quick healing of pimples that do develop.

How does Aczone help with these illnesses?

Aczone helps to manage acne by decreasing the amount of a compound called free fatty acids present on the skin. It does this by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme known as bacterial lipase, which is produced by Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium associated with acne formation. Free fatty acids are thought to play an important role in inflammation and comedones (clogged pores) formation, two key aspects of acne development. By reducing these free fatty acids, Aczone can limit inflammation and prevent the development of new acne lesions.

On the other hand, Differin manages acne through modulating cellular differentiation, keratinization (the process where cells from beneath the skin are converted to hair and nails), and inflammatory processes. Its active ingredient adapalene binds certain retinoic acid nuclear receptors thus normalizing the proliferation of follicular epithelial cells resulting in decreased microcomedone formation.

Both medications have proven efficacy for treating mild-to-moderate forms of acne but they work differently at a molecular level which might be worth considering when choosing between them depending on patient's individual condition or response to treatment.

What is Differin?

Differin is a brand name for adapalene, which is a retinoid primarily used in the treatment of mild to moderate acne. It works by normalizing the growth and differentiation of skin cells to prevent pore blockage, reducing inflammation caused by breakouts. Differin was first approved by the FDA in 1996. Unlike Aczone (dapsone), which acts as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent, Differin directly targets cell turnover and inflammation at its root cause. This fundamental difference means that side effects can differ between these two medications; while both may cause dryness or irritation, Differin does not carry the risk of hemolytic anemia associated with dapsone use especially in G6PD deficient individuals - a serious condition where red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be made due to certain triggers such as infection or exposure to certain drugs like dapsone. The targeted action on cellular processes makes Differin effective for managing acne symptoms long-term, particularly for those whose skin does not respond well to traditional antibacterial treatments such as Aczone.

What conditions is Differin approved to treat?

Differin, whose active ingredient is adapalene, is an acne treatment approved by the FDA for over-the-counter use in people 12 years of age and older. It's primarily used to treat:

  • Mild to moderate acne
  • Blackheads, whiteheads and pimples

In addition, it can help the skin renew itself more quickly and may reduce inflammation and redness.

How does Differin help with these illnesses?

Adapalene, the active ingredient in Differin, is a type of retinoid which works by affecting the growth and development of cells that line follicular canals, reducing inflammation and regulating skin cell turnover. This makes it effective in treating acne and improving overall skin texture. The unique action of adapalene on keratinocytes helps unclog pores, thereby minimizing breakouts and promoting healing. Unlike Aczone which is an antibiotic that fights bacteria present in acne prone areas, Differin targets the root cause of acne formation directly at cellular level. Furthermore, since it does not primarily act as an antibacterial agent like Aczone (dapsone), Differin may be a better option for patients who do not respond well to antibiotics or those with concerns about antibiotic resistance.

How effective are both Aczone and Differin?

Both dapsone (Aczone) and adapalene (Differin) have demonstrated efficacy in managing acne, having been approved by the FDA for this use. They operate through different mechanisms of action which can complement each other when used in tandem.

The effectiveness of Aczone and Differin was directly studied in a double-blind clinical trial where both drugs showed similar efficacy in reducing inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions. In this study, there were no significant differences between patients receiving Aczone and those receiving Differin based on various metrics to measure their effectivity in treating acne.

A 2005 review highlighted that topical dapsone is effective for treating mild-to-moderate acne from the first week of treatment onwards. The same meta-analysis reported that its side effects are generally well-tolerated even amongst teenagers who comprise a large section of patients being treated for acne. It's minimal systemic absorption makes it safe to use over large body surface areas without causing systemic toxicity.

On the other hand, adapalene has been widely prescribed since its introduction as an over-the-counter drug due to its high tolerability profile compared to other retinoids. A 2016 review indicated that it seems more effective than placebo at reducing total lesion count after three months of treatment while being comparable with most conventional treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or clindamycin monotherapy.

Nonetheless, like many topical retinoids, skin irritation including redness, dryness and peeling may occur particularly during the initial stages of therapy with adapalene. However because it selectively targets specific receptors inside cells unlike tretinoin or isotretinoin thus making it less irritating overall whilst maintaining robust therapeutic activity against comedones -the precursors to all forms of acne vulgaris- making it ideal especially for long term maintenance once active lesions have cleared up.

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At what dose is Aczone typically prescribed?

Topical applications of Aczone (dapsone) usually recommend a pea-sized amount applied to the affected area once daily. Similarly, Differin (adapalene) also advises applying a thin layer on the affected skin areas once per day. However, studies indicate that using just enough to cover the problem area is usually sufficient for treating acne in most people. Adolescents and adults can start with a single daily application. In either population, if there is no response after 12 weeks, it may be worth exploring other treatment options or consulting with your dermatologist about increasing usage frequency. It's important not to exceed recommended dosages without professional advice as this could increase risks of skin irritation.

At what dose is Differin typically prescribed?

Differin treatment typically begins with a small amount (a pea-sized dab) applied once daily in the evening to affected areas after they have been cleaned and dried. It's important not to apply more than this, as it won't make Differin work faster or better, but could increase skin irritation. After several weeks of use, if there is no improvement in your acne symptoms, you should consult with a healthcare provider about potentially increasing the frequency of application or discussing alternative treatments. Remember that excessive use does not lead to more rapid or better results but can lead to increased discomfort and skin redness.

What are the most common side effects for Aczone?

Common side effects for Aczone (dapsone) and Differin (adapalene) include:

  • Dryness, redness, swelling or peeling at the application site
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight causing sunburn quicker than normal
  • Mild burning sensation upon applying the medication
  • Changes in skin color at the area of application

However, each can have their unique side effects. For instance, Aczone may occasionally cause more serious side effects like a blue or gray appearance of lips, nails, palms and inside your mouth if it is absorbed into the blood. On the other hand, Differin might result in acne flares during early treatment periods as it works to bring pimples rooted deep under your skin up to the surface.

Always consult a healthcare provider when you notice any unusual reactions after using these medications.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Aczone?

While both Aczone and Differin are topical acne treatments, they can have different side effects. With Aczone:

  • There may be signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat.
  • You might experience severe skin reactions with symptoms that include fever, sore throat, burning in your eyes or skin pain followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) causing blistering and peeling.
  • Some people have reported changes to the color of treated skin.

With Differin on the other hand:

  • It could cause a serious allergic reaction including itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness and trouble breathing
  • Skin irritation is common during the first few weeks but then subsides. This includes feelings of warmth, stinging and tingling right after applying it along with scaling dryness 1–2 days later.

You should stop using these products if you experience any severe side effects and consult your healthcare provider immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Differin?

In contrast to Aczone, Differin can cause some different side effects. Using Differin may result in:

  • Dryness and scaling of the skin
  • A feeling of warmth or slight stinging
  • Lightening or darkening of the skin
  • Redness, swelling, blistering, or crusting
  • Rash and itching
  • Sun sensitivity While these side effects may seem concerning, they are usually temporary as your body adjusts to the medication. If any persist or worsen over time, it's crucial you contact a healthcare professional immediately. It is worth noting that results from using Differin can take up to 8–12 weeks with daily use.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Differin?

While Differin is generally well-tolerated, it can cause certain side effects. These are likely to be skin-related given its topical application nature:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Severe redness or discomfort on the treated skin areas
  • Skin rash that's not improving over time
  • Unusual changes in skin color (either too dark or too light)
  • Severe burning sensation or stinging feeling after applying the medication
  • Swelling and blistering of the skin where applied

If you experience any of these symptoms while using Differin, discontinue use immediately and consult with a healthcare provider.

Contraindications for Aczone and Differin?

Both Aczone and Differin, along with most other topical acne treatments, may initially worsen symptoms of acne in some people. If you notice your skin condition worsening significantly, or if you experience severe irritation or an allergic reaction after applying these medications, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Aczone nor Differin should be used if you are taking certain types of medication. This specifically includes drugs containing sulfur (such as sulfacetamide), resorcinol, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Always tell your physician which medications you are using; these substances will need a period of about 5 days to clear from the system to prevent dangerous interactions with Aczone and Differin.

On another note, while using either Aczone or Differin avoid excessive exposure to sunlight and sun lamps since this could lead to increased sensitivity on treated areas. It's advisable that when going out into the sun for extended periods wearing protective clothing and sunscreen would help protect against potential damage.

How much do Aczone and Differin cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of a 60g tube of Aczone (7.5%) averages around $300 to $350, which works out to approximately $10–12/day if you follow the standard usage instructions.
  • The price for a 45g tube of Differin (0.1%) is about $35, working out to roughly $0.80 per day.

Thus, if you are using these treatments as prescribed once daily, then brand-name Differin is significantly less expensive on a per-day treatment basis compared to Aczone. However, cost should not be your primary consideration in determining which medication might be best for treating your acne.

In regards to generic versions:

  • Generic dapsone gel (the active ingredient in Aczone) does exist but it's still fairly high-priced due its relatively recent introduction into the market - about half that of branded Aczone.
  • Adapalene gel (the active ingredient in Differin) has been available for longer and can be found over-the-counter at an even lower cost than brand-name Differin - often under $25 for a similar sized tube.

Ultimately, while both medications can help treat acne effectively, there's quite a significant difference in their costs with adapalene being much more affordable than dapsone whether comparing brands or generics. Remember though that effectiveness varies by individual and cheaper isn't always better! Always discuss options with your healthcare provider.

Popularity of Aczone and Differin

Dapsone, which is available under the brand name Aczone, was prescribed to around 500,000 people in the United States in 2020. It accounted for about 2% of all acne treatment prescriptions during that year. Dapsone has been rising steadily in popularity since it was approved by the FDA for acne treatment in 2005.

Adapalene, sold under the brand name Differin among others, was prescribed to nearly 1 million people across America last year. This figure accounts for roughly 4% of overall acne remedy prescriptions within that time frame. Adapalene's prevalence has remained relatively stable over recent years ever since its approval by FDA as an OTC (over-the-counter) drug back in July of 2016.


Both Aczone (dapsone) and Differin (adapalene) are well-established medications in the treatment of acne, supported by numerous clinical studies and meta-analyses indicating their effectiveness over placebo treatments. They may be used together for a more comprehensive approach to acne treatment, although this should always be under the careful guidance of a dermatologist due to potential interactions and increased risk of side effects.

Their mechanisms of action differ - Aczone is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent which helps reduce inflammation associated with acne, while Differin is a type of retinoid that promotes skin cell turnover to prevent clogged pores. Typically, Differin may be considered as a first-line topical treatment for mild-to-moderate acne or as adjuvant therapy in severe cases, whereas Aczone might typically be prescribed for inflammatory acne lesions or when patients have not responded adequately to other treatments.

Both drugs can cause initial skin irritation like dryness and redness at the beginning of therapy before improvement starts appearing usually within 8-12 weeks.

The side effect profile between these two drugs is similar; both can cause localised reactions such as dryness or peeling skin though it's generally milder with Aczone than Differin. As with any medication regimen involving powerful active ingredients like dapsone and adapalene, close monitoring by your dermatologist especially when starting out on either drug is key.