Acne treatment Acne treatment

Face Reaction to Benzoyl Peroxide

Face Reaction to Benzoyl Peroxide


The key ingredient in many acne treatment products, benzoyl peroxide works by oxygenating clogged pores and making the environment inhospitable to bacteria. Because the prescription and over-the-counter creams, soaps and lotions containing benzoyl peroxide also promote the shedding of dead skin cells, the products can be drying and irritating. This may affect your skin over the long term.

Side Effects

Dryness and mild irritation are common and usually tolerated side effects of benzoyl peroxide. You may be able to reduce these effects by starting with a small amount and gradually increasing it. This will give your skin a chance to adjust. More severe side effects include painful blistering and crusting. Over time, this key acne-fighting ingredient may also produce free radicals, aging your skin. Benzoyl peroxide was classified as a category III ingredient by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995, after animal studies linked benzoyl peroxide to tumor growth.


If you have sensitive skin, you may experience more severe side effects from acne treatment. A lower dose of benzoyl peroxide will be just as effective as a higher concentration,  and may reduce dryness and irritation. Mild side effects, including stinging, tingling and dryness, usually resolve over time, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Time Frame

You will need to continue using benzoyl peroxide long term to avoid a recurrence of breakouts. Benzoyl peroxide lowers levels of bacteria in the skin by producing oxygen-killing free radicals. Unfortunately, these free radicals may damage skin cells and speed the aging process if used over the long term, according to independent informational website SmartSkinCare. Use the lowest effective dose of benzoyl peroxide to reduce this risk.


Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most effective over-the-counter options for acne care. With continued use, you may find your skin clears and your complexion improves.


Manage the side effects of benzoyl peroxide treatment by using an oil-free moisturizer twice daily and opting for a gentle, unmedicated facial cleanser. Avoid harsh products and exfoliating ingredients to keep your skin as healthy as possible. Use a sunscreen designed for sensitive skin each day to reduce potential damage from sun exposure.

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