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Epiduo Gel (Adapalene + Benzoyl Peroxide)

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Pharmacology

Updated Aug 24, 2022


Epiduo is the brand name of a topical gel containing two ingredients, adapalene and benzoyl peroxide. Adapalene is a retinoid (vitamin A derivative) and benzoyl peroxide works as an antibiotic and skin-peeling agent.

Adapalene works by affecting the growth of cells and decreasing swelling and inflammation. Benzoyl peroxide works by reducing the amount of acne-causing bacteria and by causing the skin to dry and peel off.

Together, these ingredients help to kill the bacteria that cause pimples and reduce inflammation. This product may reduce the number and severity of acne pimples and promote quick healing of pimples that do appear.

This product is not available over-the-counter (OTC), therefore it can only be purchased if you have a prescription from a doctor or dermatologist.

How to use Epiduo

How should I apply it?

Wash your hands before applying this medication. Gently clean the affected skin with a mild or soap-free cleanser and pat dry. Apply a thin layer of this medication usually once daily or as directed by your doctor. Use your fingertips to apply a small amount of medication (about the size of a pea) to the affected areas of skin.

Use this medication on the skin only. Do not apply to the inner lip area, inside the nose/mouth, or on mucous membranes. Do not apply to cut, scraped, sunburned or eczema-affected skin.

Avoid getting this medication in your eyes. If this medication gets into your eyes, flush with large amounts of water. Call your doctor if eye irritation develops. Wash your hands after using the medication to avoid accidentally getting it in your eyes.

Your dosage and treatment plan is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.

During the first few weeks of using adapalene, your acne might appear worse because the medication is working on pimples forming inside the skin.

Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same time each day. Do not use a larger amount or use it more frequently than recommended. Your skin will not improve any faster, and it will increase the risk of developing redness, peeling, and pain.

Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.

How do I store it?

Epiduo is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store Epiduo in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of adapalene + benzoyl peroxide that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush this product down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using Epiduo?

Before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to adapalene or benzoyl peroxide; or to vitamin A-related drugs (other retinoids such as isotretinoin); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: other skin conditions (such as eczema).

This drug may bleach hair or colored fabric (such as clothing, bedding, and towels). Use caution when applying near the hairline, while dressing, and while choosing towel and bedsheet colors (if leaving on the skin overnight).

This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Limit your time in the sun. Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Tell your doctor right away if you get sunburned or have skin blisters/redness. Wait until your skin has completely recovered from a sunburn before using this product. Weather extremes such as wind or cold may also be irritating to the skin.

Avoid electrolysis, waxing and chemical depilatories for hair removal on the treated areas while using this product.

During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk when used on the skin. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using Epiduo during pregnancy. If you are breastfeeding, do not apply the gel on your chest or breasts before breastfeeding. Wash your hands thoroughly after applying the gel. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking using this product.

Side effects

What side effects can occur from Epiduo?

Skin redness, dryness, peeling, mild burning, swelling, or worsening of acne may occur during the first 4 weeks of using this product. These effects usually decrease with continued use. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Your doctor may want you to use a moisturizer, decrease how often you use the product, or have you stop using it.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching, swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What drugs may interact with Epiduo?

Some products that may interact with this drug include: other drugs that may increase your sensitivity to sunlight (such as tetracyclines, thiazide water pills such as hydrochlorothiazide, sulfa drugs such as sulfamethoxazole, and quinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin), other acne skin treatments (such as tretinoin, dapsone).

Avoid using other skin products that are harsh, irritating, or drying on the treated area. These products include hair perming or coloring solutions, alcohol/lime/menthol-containing products (such as astringents, toners, shaving lotion), medicated or abrasive soaps or cleansers, soaps and cosmetics with a strong drying effect (such as alpha hydroxy acids, glycolic acid), and products containing sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid.

If you have recently used products containing sulfur, resorcinol or salicylic acid, use this product with caution. Wait until the effects of such products on the skin have decreased before using this product.

Epiduo may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with this product?

Epiduo may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increasing the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with this product?

Epiduo may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

If you are using this medication to treat acne along with other acne medications, it may increase the risk of photosensitivity and sunburn. Always wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before exposure to sunlight, wear protective clothing, and avoid exposing yourself to direct sunlight or tanning beds while using this medication.


The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this product.

What is the dose of Epiduo for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Acne

After cleansing and drying, apply a thin layer to the affected area once a day.

Additional instructions

This drug is for topical use only and should be used with caution around mucous membranes and disrupted skin (e.g., abrasions, cuts, eczema, sunburns).

What is the dose of Epiduo for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Acne


For children 9 years and older: same as adult

Epiduo Forte

Children 12 years and older: same as adult

How is Epiduo available?

This product is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Epiduo: Adapalene 0.1% (1 mg), benzoyl peroxide 2.5% (25 mg)
  • Epiduo Forte: Adapalene 0.3% (3 mg), benzoyl peroxide 2.5% (25 mg)

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

As a topical medication, overdose is not likely. In the case of ingestion or improper use, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you forget to apply a dose of Epiduo, apply it as soon as you remember. Do not apply additional doses unless indicated by your doctor.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Written by

Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD


Updated Aug 24, 2022

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