Acne treatment Acne treatment

Benzoyl Peroxide Information

Benzoyl Peroxide Information Benzoyl Peroxide Information


Benzoyl peroxide products are intended for acne and are available with a doctor's prescription or over the counter at the drugstore. In the United States, 10 percent benzoyl peroxide is the maximum content allowed in over the counter products. Follow the directions for use on the product label or as provided by your health care professional.


According to DermNet NZ, benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic, an oxidizing agent and an anti-inflammatory. As an antiseptic, benzoyl peroxide reduces the number of bacteria on the skin's surface. It explains using benzoyl peroxide does not promote the proliferation of resistant bacteria strains like antibiotic therapy. As an oxidizing agent, benzoyl peroxide is keratolytic, which means it helps to shed the outer layer of your skin.


Benzoyl peroxide products are intended for topical use only on the face and trunk. The U.S. National Institutes of Health, NIH, provides a list of benzoyl peroxide products that includes: "cleansing liquid or bar, lotion, cream, and gel." Cleansing liquids and bars containing benzoyl peroxide are indented to wash the face. Lotions, creams and gels are generally intended for spot specific use, on the blemish itself.


The intended use for benzoyl peroxide is an acne treatment. Before applying benzoyl peroxide lotions, creams or gels, clean and dry the skin. The NIH describes normal use as once or twice daily. Both the NIH and DermNet NZ recommend applying benzoyl peroxide products sparingly. Start with one application a day, or every other day, and see if your skin has a negative reaction. Desired results may take four to six weeks.

Alternative Use points out that once a medication is approved and on the market for an intended use, health practitioners may find it useful to treat other conditions. Although treatment of bed sores and stasis ulcers is not included with the product labeling, if you suffer from these conditions your health professional may recommend benzoyl peroxide as part of your treatment plan.

Expert Insight

The Department of Dermatology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in New South Whales conducted a single-blind randomized clinical trial on 124 subjects to compare a 5 percent tea tree oil gel and 5 percent benzoyl peroxide lotion in treating acne. The results published in the "Medical Journal of Australia" report both exhibited "a significant effect in ameliorating the patients' acne by reducing the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions." The action of benzoyl peroxide lotion was faster than the tea tree oil gel, but produced more side-effects.

Side Effects

The NIH wants users to know using benzoyl peroxide may cause side effects at the site of application including dry skin, peeling skin, tingling, warmth or a stinging sensation. It advises calling your doctor when severe symptoms present and do not go away. The NIH recommends contacting a health professional immediately if you experience burning, blistering, itching, redness, rash or swelling.

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