Peroxide Treatment for Acne
According to the Mayo Clinic, benzoyl peroxide is the generic name for an acne medication sold in the U.S. under such brand names as Stridex, Benzagel, Desquam and Del-Aqua. It's a topical medication that's available as a soap, lotion, medicated pad, cream, solution, gel, foam and liquid. Some of these preparations can be purchased over the counter, while others are more concentrated and require a prescription.
While benzoyl peroxide is readily available, it's not safe for everyone to use. The Mayo Clinic cautions against using the drug on skin that is red, raw or sunburned. People who have allergic skin diseases such as eczema or seborrheic dermatitis should consult their doctors before using benzoyl peroxide. Since benzoyl peroxide can interact with some other medications, alcohol, tobacco and some foods, it's a good idea to discuss its use with a healthcare professional.
Benzoyl peroxide can cause significant skin irritation if it's not applied correctly, says the Mayo Clinic. It should not be applied near the lips or eyes, on sensitive skin of the neck or inside the nose. Each form of the topical medication has its own specific instructions for use, but the general principles are the same. The first step is to wash the area of acne with a non-medicated soap or cleanser and water and then pat it dry. The product is then applied according to label instructions. For example, benzoyl peroxide lotions and gels are rubbed gently into the affected skin area and left to dry, while facial masks are applied, allowed to dry for 15 to 25 minutes and then rinsed off.
According to Medline Plus, people who use benzoyl peroxide should avoid skin care products containing cosmetics, alcohol or other ingredients that dry out the skin. It's also a good idea to limit exposure to sunlight, and avoid sunlamps. Drugs.com says that benzoyl peroxide can interact with sunscreens that contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) to cause temporary discoloration of the skin.
According to Medline Plus, benzoyl peroxide may cause temporary mild redness, peeling, stinging or warmth of the skin area where it's applied. In some cases, it may cause more severe burning, blistering, crusting, swelling or marked redness of the skin. These more severe side effects should be reported to the prescribing doctor.
Benzoyl peroxide may make acne worse before it gets better, says the Mayo Clinic. According to Drugs.com, benzoyl peroxide should significantly improve acne symptoms after two to three weeks of treatment.
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