Benzoyl Peroxide for the Face
Acne is a common condition characterized by bumps, redness and inflammation of the skin. It can affect any area of the body, including the face. While not a health risk, acne may be painful and can cause scarring. One way to treat acne is through topical applications of benzoyl peroxide, a medicine that fights existing pimples and prevents future breakouts.
How It Works
The pustules and bumps associated with acne occur when pores become plugged with excess sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells. Benzoyl peroxide is an anti-microbial, meaning it treats acne by killing the bacteria that cause breakouts. The medicine also possesses a mild drying effect, says the University of Michigan Health Service. This counteracts the overproduction of oil and makes it easier to wash away potential pore-clogging substances like dirt and makeup.
Benzoyl peroxide for the face comes in a number of forms, including soap, lotion, cream and foam. Both prescription and non-prescription formulations are available. Drug stores typically sell 2.5 percent and 10 percent concentrations of benzoyl peroxide over-the-counter. Other medications, such as Benzaclin, are available by prescription only. Benzaclin combines benzoyl peroxide with the antibiotic clindamycin and is primarily used to treat more severe cases of acne.
Proper use of benzoyl peroxide varies depending on the treatment type and the patient’s individual needs. Failing to use benzoyl peroxide as directed may irritate the skin. However, a few general rules include avoiding contact with the eyes, nose and lips and not applying the medication to sunburned or broken skin unless otherwise advised by a doctor.
Drugs.com reports that benzoyl peroxide use can actually worsen acne during the first few weeks of treatment. Other side effects include photosensitivity, mild itching and burning and noticeably dry, peeling skin. Benzoyl peroxide should not be used with sunscreen containing PABA, as the interaction can cause a temporary darkening of the skin. Contact with hair and colored fabrics should also be avoided because bleaching may occur.
In March 2010, the FDA officially declared benzoyl peroxide to be GRASE, a drug that is “generally recognized as safe and effective.” This status change came after nearly two decades of debate regarding the drug’s potential to promote tumor growth when exposed to the sun. However, the FDA continues to caution users against unnecessary sun exposure and encourages the use of sunscreen on treated areas.
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