Adapalene and Benzoyl Peroxide (Topical)

As an acne medication, Adapalene and Benzoyl Peroxide is a topical gel that attacks bacteria, the root cause of acne, and keeps the skin pores clean.


Adapalene and benzoyl peroxide is a prescription drug topical gel combination of 0.1% adapalene and 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. Adapalene is a retinoid and benzoyl peroxide is an antibiotic and skin-shedding agent. This means that adapalene decreases inflammation and swelling, and also impacts cell growth. Benzoyl peroxide helps the skin to peel off after it is dried out and lowers the number of bacteria that cause acne. Adapalene has similar qualities to vitamin A as it assists the skin in repairing itself.

The combination of the two ingredients has proven to be more effective than either ingredient on its own.

This topical ointment can lower the intensity and amount of acne on the skin. It also encourages existing pimples to heal quickly.

Adapalene and benzoyl peroxide is classified under two US prescription brand names: Epiduo and Epiduo Forte.

Prior to use

When contemplating whether or not to take a medication, compare and contrast the side effects of the medicine against how much it will help the patient. The doctor and the patient must work together to figure out if this is the right decision for the patient. See the summary on warnings and interactions for more information.

Specific demographic use


Children under nine should not take Epiduo® because it has not yet been confirmed whether or not this medication is effective and safe for them.

Children under 12 should not take Epiduo® Forte because it has not yet been confirmed whether or not this medication is effective and safe for them.


There has not been adequate research to demonstrate whether or not elderly adults encounter problems after taking adapalene and benzoyl peroxide combination.


There has not been a verified study regarding pregnancy and the adapalene and benzoyl peroxide topical application route.


While breastfeeding, compare and contrast the risk of using adapalene and benzoyl peroxide topical application. There have not been any suitable findings or studies regarding whether or not this medication is safe for the mother/baby while breastfeeding.

Condition(s) treated

  • Acne

Type of medicine

  • Adapalene
  • Benzoyl peroxide

Side Effects

Side effects may not occur for the first four weeks of applying this topical gel. Medications can cause undesirable side effects along with the desired positive effects. The following side effects may not occur, but if they do take place they may require examination from a physician. The patient should seek medical advice if the following side effects take place.

The most common side effects experienced by patients who are prescribed adapalene and benzoyl peroxide topical gel is skin that is abnormally warm to the touch; skin redness, irritation, or flushing; and flaking or dryness of the skin.

Less common side effects include skin burning, blistering, crusting, or flaking. Skin swelling, intense redness, or even scaling can occur. Skin rash, soreness, itching, swelling, burning, or redness at or around the application site can occur in rare cases. Sunburn and skin pain are suspected to be additional side effects but it is not currently known as to how often they occur (if they occur at all).

Additional side effects can occur but are not severe and do not typically require the attention of a medical professional. These include color changes of the treated area; dry, itching, or burning eyes; discharge or tearing; facial swelling; and flaking skin rash. The body typically relieves these side effects as the individual adjusts to the medication. A physician can inform the patient of ways in which these side effects may be reduced, or can answer questions about the medication that the patient may have.

Some patients may experience additional side effects that are not listed here. If this takes place, contact a physician to ensure adverse effects are not taking place. Side effects can also be reported to the FDA by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.


As with all prescriptions, it's highly crucial to take adapalene and benzoyl peroxide only as advised by the doctor. This means patients should never apply more of the drug than directed, either in frequency or in the amount of the dose. Additionally, patients should discontinue taking the prescription when recommended to do so by their physician, even if there is still an amount remaining.

The dosage of adapalene and benzoyl peroxide will differ with the needs of the individual patient, so the instructions of the doctor should be followed carefully. Alternatively, the instructions printed on the bottle can be followed, as they should be similar.

The manufacturers of adapalene and benzoyl peroxide have offered typical dosage directions, but it should be restated that these directions could be different from what is prescribed by the patient's physician. Issues identified between the doctor and patient is the foremost factor in determining dose size and frequency.


Only take this medication as instructed by a physician. Amounts that are more or less than the doctor ordered (or doses that are taken more or less frequently) may increase the chances of adverse side effects.

Before using adapalene-benzoyl peroxide topical gel:

  • Wash hands thoroughly prior to use
  • Carefully wash the skin with a soap that is mild or soapless
  • Pat dry

Follow the directions of your physician carefully.

For remedying symptoms that are related to acne, the suggested dose of Epiduo® for adults and children who are over nine years of age is to apply a light coating of the topical gel to the area(s) that are showing symptoms just once each day to start. Children who are not older than nine years of age should not use this medication without prior approval from a physician.

For patients who require medication with additional strength, Epiduo® Forte can improve stubborn symptoms that are related to acne. The recommended dose of Epiduo® Forte for adults and children who are over 12 years of age is to apply a light coating of the topical gel to the problem area(s) just once each day to start. Children who are not older than 12 years of age should not use this medication without prior approval from a physician.

Using according to the directions from the physician, and use fingertips to put a thin layer on the affected area.

Missed dose

Patients are cautioned against applying a double dose. If he or she neglects a dose, they can apply the overlooked dose when they realize it. If it is closer to the designated time at which the next dose should be taken, he or she should skip the missed dose and wait until the scheduled next dose.

Major drug interactions

Medications interact with other medications when treating the human body, causing the effects of both medications to be changed. This could cause a condition to be treated with medications that are ineffective when working together or could even cause an intense negative reaction for the patient. Patients should keep a record of each medication they take, being careful to also include the frequency and dosage for every medicine on the list. This does not only apply to prescription medication because a physician should be aware of everything a patient is taking, including over-the-counter and non-prescription drugs.

While interactions are not likely to occur with drugs injected or taken by mouth, avoid applying another prescription medication topical gel or cream to the affected area until a physician has been consulted.


Along with informing the physician of allergies and present medications being taken, the patient would benefit from discussing his or her medical past and current health concerns. The physician must be aware of the progress of the patient regularly, which ensures the medicine will be working accurately but also gives the patient and doctor a chance to decide if continued use of the medication would be beneficial.

Other medical Issues

Other medical issues can impact how this medication works. Inform a physician of all medical issues, including:

  • Eczema
  • Sunburn

Exposure outdoors

Skin may become more sensitive when exposed to direct cold, sunlight, or windy weather. Sunscreen is recommended when spending time outside. Tanning beds and sunlamps should be avoided. Protective clothing (such as a hat or visor) should always be worn.


Burning, stinging, redness, scaling, or dryness can result from skin reactions. A moisturizer can be applied as necessary to help reduce these symptoms.

Avoid eye contact

Try to keep out of eyes; if the gel gets in the eyes, flush immediately with plenty of water. Call the doctor immediately if irritation occurs. Wash hands thoroughly with soap after application, otherwise there is still a chance of getting some medication in the eyes.

Skin care products

Skin care products that tend to irritate or dry skin should be avoided while taking this medication. These products include rough skin cleansers, cosmetics or soaps that make skin dry, products for hair removal, or products made up of lime, spices, alcohol, or astringents.

Skin waxing should not be performed on affected skin while applying this medication.

As bleaching can occur after use, allow the topical gel to dry prior to getting dressed to avoid hair or clothes bleaching.


Adapalene and benzoyl peroxide should be kept at room temperature. Freezing temperatures near this medication should be prevented. Furthermore, the drug's manufacturer recommends that moisture, heat, and direct light should not be nearby. Preferably, it should be stored in a medicine cabinet or cupboard, wherever children cannot reach it.

Once the doctor and patient decide that adapalene and benzoyl peroxide are no longer required for treatment, proper disposal of the remaining supply should be discussed. Topical creams that are either expired or no longer needed should be disposed of. A physician can recommend ways that patients can dispose of the remaining quantity.


The adapalene and benzoyl peroxide combination is effective for most people in improving acne because it can heal the skin while decreasing swelling to heal the affected area. Since there is a quick onset of improvement after applying this medication, it is a favorable choice and doctors often recommend prescriptions for many people with acne.

While there are not many studies on the topic of combination drugs, it is known that anti-acne drugs typically do not fight all sources of acne on their own. The result is highly effective when a strong topical and an oral antibiotic are combined, especially benzoyl peroxide acting in a retinoid.

While adapalene and benzoyl peroxide is an effective topical gel on its own, it can also be a risk if patients do not fully disclose other products they are applying with their doctors or if they do not inform their doctors of skin conditions. When taken correctly, this medication can help patients experience a great relief from their acne symptoms.

Last Reviewed:
December 10, 2017
Last Updated:
April 05, 2018
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