Benzoyl peroxide: A boon to acne- prone skin 

Benzoyl peroxide is an over-the-counter topical medication, approved by the FDA for the treatment of acne vulgaris. It is bactericidal with activity against Cutibacterium acnes on the skin and within the hair follicles. It has mild sebostatic and keratolytic effects and is quite effective when used in combination with other acne vulgaris treatments. 

It is widely available as over the counter acne skin care gels and is used in different concentrations ranging from mild to moderate.


Let’s dive right into knowing more about benzoyl peroxide. 

1. Is benzoyl peroxide appropriate for treating acne?
2. Benzoyl peroxide uses
3. How to use benzoyl peroxide 
4. Products containing Benzoyl peroxide
5. Available Concentrations of benzoyl peroxide
6. When to use Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide?
7. Adapalene and benzoyl peroxide gel 
8. Benzoyl peroxide Side effects 

Is benzoyl peroxide appropriate for treating acne?

It treats and prevents acne by killing the bacteria underneath the skin, and helps the pores shed dead skin cells and controls excess sebum secretion. 

Let's discuss the benzoyl peroxide uses:

1. Benzoyl peroxide for Pimples 

It works exceptionally good for inflammatory acne, characterised by red bumps containing pus.


2. Benzoyl peroxide for acne scars

Acne scars occur as a result of acne outbreak. They worsen in the case of sun exposure, therefore, wearing sunscreen with spf 50 or more can prevent the condition from getting worse.  Acne scars occur generally in the case of inflammatory acne, where the acne is picked or even when one resists to pick the lesion. The effect of Benzoyl peroxide on acne scars is unknown.  

3. Benzoyl peroxide for Blackheads and Whiteheads 

Blackheads and whiteheads are non-inflammatory acne as they do not form red bumps, which are the characteristic feature of other types of acne. 

Consequently, applying benzoyl peroxide to treat blackheads and whiteheads may not be the best option for the treatment. For these non-inflammatory acnes retinoids are the best available options. Topical retinoids include adapalene and tretinoin. Adapalene is available as an OTC, whereas tretinoin needs a prescription. 

4. Benzoyl peroxide for Cystic acne 

Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne, thereby being the most difficult ones to treat. Hard bumps appear with pus deep inside and are characterised by lacking prominent heads. 

Benzoyl peroxide may treat cystic acne if used in combination with other prescribed topical medications.

It is recommended to be medically reviewed by the doctor and take the best treatments. 


How to use benzoyl peroxide

It is of paramount importance to select the product containing benzoyl peroxide according to your preference. It comes in various acne treatment products. 

Apart from that, it is equally important to choose appropriate concentrations, depending on your skin type. It is generally recommended to use lower concentrations on the face, as the face is sensitive and requires extra care.

Initially start with 2.5 % and apply the medication once a day. It is recommended to gradually increase the concentration for better results. Apply it in the morning, if you use retinol products at night. This might prevent irritation and burning. 

Benzoyl peroxide can be found in the following products, responsible for treating acne:

1. Benzoyl peroxide Gel

Gels are applied to affected areas for spot treatment. They generally contain a high concentration of benzoyl peroxide. 

2. Benzoyl peroxide face wash and forms 

Initially start with lower concentration and then increase upto 10% depending upon the response from your skin. Wet your face and massage gently in a circular motion. Rinse with water after 1-2 minutes and pat dry with a clean towel. You can use once or twice a day to prevent acne and treat lesions. To know more about face wash for acne prone skin, you can click here!

3. Benzoyl peroxide Acne body washes and soaps

It exfoliates the skin and removes bacteria. These are generally used when acne occurs at the back, chest and other parts of the body. 

4. Benzoyl peroxide Creams and lotions for acne-prone skin 

These creams are used for both treatment as well as preventive measures. They are applied to the entire area of the skin, once or twice a day. 

Available Concentrations of benzoyl peroxide

It is generally available in three concentrations, i.e., 2.5%, 5% and 10%. High concentration leads to high irritation and burning, which eventually makes the skin dry. Although, every individual has different skin type, and types of acne, therefore, it is recommended to start with lower concentration and increase it if redness and other side effects are not visible.

When to use Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide?

Salicylic acid is best for treatment of blackheads and whiteheads. For acne prone skin, it is highly recommended to use fashwashes enriched with salicylic acid as it might prevent further comedones. 

Benzoyl peroxide, on the other hand, works best on red bumps and pus-filled pimples or pustules. Apart from this, it is majorly responsible for killing the underneath bacteria that  causes acne. 


Adapalene and benzoyl peroxide gel 

The combination of adapalene and benzoyl peroxide works in a cyclic manner. Adapalene acts as a keratolytic agent and benzoyl peroxide acts as an antibacterial agent. Both the drugs when used judiciously can be used to cure mild to moderate acne problems. 

Benzoyl peroxide Side effects 

It is certain that the usage of chemicals might cause some side effects. Similarly, benzoyl peroxide can cause side effects to individuals having sensitive skin. Usually, side effects are prone to the ones using it for the first time. 

The most common side effects of benzoyl peroxide are flaking and dryness. They are usually mild and can be reduced by using an oil-free moisturizing lotion on a regular basis. Severe side effects include excessive dryness, flaking, burning and redness. 

It peels away the skin, thereby removing dead skin cells. Furthermore, it is responsible for removing excess oil which is trapped underneath. This mechanism can lead to excessively dry skin, gives a peeling skin effect and cause certain allergic reactions. Check out the ways to get rid of dry skin here!

Do not use benzoyl peroxide products if you have a sunburn. It is recommended to consult a dermatologist in case of occurrence of side effects. 

When to consult a doctor or a pharmacist? 

Undoubtedly, benzoyl peroxide is a boon, nevertheless; no product can give results overnight. Consistency is the key to get the best results. 

If a person uses a product for more than six weeks and didn't see any improvement, then one must consult a dermatologist. 


Q. How does benzoyl peroxide work on acne? 

It attacks the bacteria present underneath the skin and removes dead skin by unclogging the pores, therefore prevents the blockage.

Q. What are the uses of benzoyl peroxide?

It is used to treat mild to moderate acne. It is used in combination with other acne treatments, thereby treats red bumps or pus-filled pimples. 

Q. What is the best way to use benzoyl peroxide? 

The best way for spot treatment is to use leave on creams.  Apply it to the affected areas of the skin. Avoid contact with your eyes, inside your nose or mouth, or on any open areas of skin. It may bleach your hair or fabrics. 

Q. When should one avoid using benzoyl peroxide? 

Individuals with sensitive skin should use Benzoyl peroxide in lower concentrations as it can cause skin irritation in the form of excessive dryness and redness. Also, avoid the use of it in case of pregnancy.  

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