What is Benzoyl Peroxide? Benzoyl Peroxide is one of the most effective acne remedies available today. Its untoward effects do include drying and peeling of the skin, mild itching, and redness. These symptoms are usually mild and one acquires tolerance for benzoyl peroxide. Excessive peeling, pain, or blistering is a cause for concern. Ask your doctor about other treatments for sensitive skin.
An organic compound of the peroxide family, the molecular structure is that of two benzoyl groups with a molecule of peroxide between.
Its use is widespread not just for the treatment of facial acne but other health and beauty applications such as cosmetic oxygen-bleaching of teeth, bleaching hair, used for the polymerizing of polyester, among many other uses.
For this article, we concern ourselves with the use for benzoyl peroxide for the treatment of acne and the side effects of skin dryness, irritation and peeling.
Benzoyl Peroxide Available in the Pharmacy as OTC
What makes benzoyl peroxide so effective against acne is that acne cannot live under aerobic (oxygen) conditions, and benzoyl peroxide introduces oxygen to the pore. This kills the acne-causing bacterium.
As prescribed for the treatment of mild to moderate acne, benzoyl peroxide is available as both OTC and prescription preparations that include liquid, wash bar, topical lotion, cream or gel. Typically used just once or twice daily, one needs to closely monitor how their skin initially reacts to topical benzoyl peroxide use.
Skin redness, a tingling sensation and slight irritation are often initial symptoms that go away in a short time. Itching, peeling and swelling are also possible. Tolerance to benzoyl peroxide is slowly gained and these symptoms usually are mild and eventually become easily tolerated.
As a peeling agent, benzoyl peroxide increases skin turnover and thus, cleans pores and reduces potential break-outs.
While most OTC (non-prescription 'Over The Counter') preparations of benzoyl peroxide are unlikely to cause serious symptoms in all but the most sensitive people, they can occur. Symptoms to watch out for and report to your doctor when using any benzoyl peroxide product include:
- Burning and Blistering
- Redness, Rash
Intense itching and even mild-to-intense stinging (pain) would be cause to mention these symptoms to your doctor. You may be allergic to benzoyl peroxide.
It is normal for Benzoyl Peroxide-containing acne products to dry your skin. It is an accepted part of what makes these products work...
There are several dozen commercial anti-acne preparations available for general use, but for sensitive skin types, other acne preparations are available. These can include milder concentrations of the active ingredient and additional agents to which sensitive skin types might not be so reactive. Studies have shown very little difference in effective strengths between the commonly available 2.5%, 5% and 10% formulations. If you are experiencing undesired irritation from a higher concentration, switching to a milder formulation may be all the change you require.
Products such as Bencort®or Vanoxid-HC® contain hydrocortisone (anti-inflammatory/immunosuppresive to treat corticosteroid-responce dermatosis (1) Sulfoxyl® and NuOx® contain sulfur (effective non-benzoyl peroxide exfoliate and safe for use during pregnancy (2), ) and another product, Inova 8-2® contains Salicylic Acid (similar to active ingredient in aspirin, slows-down shedding of skin cells in follicles which prevents clogging. Also helps break-down blackheads/whiteheads (3).)
It is normal for Benzoyl Peroxide-containing acne products to dry your skin. It is an accepted part of what makes these products work. But excessive drying and peeling, pain, swelling and other symptoms do not have to be endured.
Other Treatments for Acne
Ask your doctor about other treatments for acne if the product you are using causes excessive discomfort or pain. S/he has many options available to help your skin look its very best.
- Cite: DrugBank: Hydrocortisone
- Cite: Acne Assassin: Using Sulfur Acne Medication During Pregnancy
- Cite: Acne.org: Acne Treatment and Community: Salicylic Acid