Benzoyl peroxide is a medication that treats mild to moderate acne. It works by destroying bacteria to reduce the number and severity of acne lesions. This medication is sometimes combined with other medications like salicylic acid for added benefits.
Benzoyl peroxide works as an exfoliating agent by removing a mixture of sebum and dead skin cells from pores to increase skin turnover. It is effective against blackheads, whiteheads, and large red pimples.
How Does Benzoyl Peroxide Work?
Benzoyl peroxide works well on mild to moderate acne and is typically applied to the affected area in gel, cream, or liquid form. It comes in concentrations of 2.5% to 10%. Benzoyl peroxide can be used as a wash or applied topically via cream or gel.
Where Can I Find Benzoyl Peroxide?
Benzoyl peroxide is available in over-the-counter skin care products or by prescription. Over-the-counter products containing benzoyl peroxide typically start around $10.
Are There Any Precautions?
Benzoyl peroxide can cause flaking or drying when you first start using it. Wear sunscreen prior to going out in the sun and avoid harsh facial cleansers that can increase irritation. Applying a moisturizer can also help reduce skin complaints.
While allergic reactions to benzoyl peroxide are rare, it's smart to test for an allergy anyway. Apply a small amount to one or two areas over three to five days and watch for signs of swelling or rash.
Keep benzoyl peroxide away from eyes, nose, and mouth, and be careful not to get it on clothes as it can stain.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Since the skin needs time to adjust, it's recommended to start with a low dose or low concentration and work up to allow your skin to adjust over time. Sensitivities should reduce after a few weeks of consistent use.
Serious reactions are rare. One in 500 people may experience hypersensitivity, and fewer users experience phototoxicity to ultraviolet rays. In rare cases, benzoyl peroxide can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or dark spots on the skin.
What Else Should You Know About Benzoyl Peroxide?
Most of all, be consistent. Regular and continued use of benzoyl peroxide gives skin the chance to adjust so the medication can work best. Try not to skip days, and use sunscreen and moisturizers to help skin adapt and stay protected.
My Skin Feels Bad, Is This an Allergy?
While dryness and flaking may occur during the first few days or weeks of using benzoyl peroxide, your skin will eventually adjust. If you experience swelling, severe redness, or any kind of blisters, this may indicate an allergic reaction. Call your doctor right away to report these symptoms.
Is Benzoyl Peroxide Safe to Use With Antibiotics?
Yes. Benzoyl peroxide does not induce antibiotic resistance, so it's safe to use with antibiotics.
Is Benzoyl Peroxide Safe to Use During Pregnancy?
Generally, it is recommended this medication is used only when needed during pregnancy. There is no evidence that benzoyl peroxide affects breastmilk, but talk to your doctor to make sure using it to fight acne during pregnancy is right for you.
How Long Does It Take Benzoyl Peroxide to Work?
While results can sometimes be seen in as little as five days, it generally takes eight to 10 weeks to see noticeable improvement overall. No matter how tempting it may be, more medication won't mean faster results, so be sure to use as directed.
Can I Leave Benzoyl Peroxide on Overnight?
Benzoyl peroxide in the form of a wash is a short-term contact therapy that you leave on for a few minutes and then wash it off. Gels or creams might work better as a leave-on treatment.
Can Benzoyl Peroxide Remove Acne Scars?
The very best thing you can do to keep scarring from happening is to begin treatment as soon as possible. While benzoyl peroxide may not be able to treat existing scars, it can certainly help prevent new scarring.
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