Peroxide for Acne
Acne causes persistent breakouts of pimples on the face, back or chest. Acne is not a serious medical condition, states the Mayo Clinic, but some over-the-counter and prescription treatments can make acne less severe. Benzoyl peroxide is an active ingredient in both over-the-counter and prescription acne creams. Does it really work?
Benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic solution that reduces the amount of bacteria on the skin. Additionally, benzoyl peroxide oxidizes the skin and prevents swelling. Benzoyl peroxide is not available over the counter on its own, but is available as an active ingredient in a variety of over-the-counter acne washes, spot treatments and toners. Most over-the-counter treatments use a benzoyl peroxide strength of 0.5 to 10 percent. Benzoyl peroxide is also available in stronger prescription strengths from a dermatologist.
Over-the-counter medications that contain benzoyl peroxide include ZAPZYT, MD Formulations Benzoyl Peroxide 10, Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser and Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser. These products are available at drugstores and department stores. Prescription benzoyl peroxide treatments include combinations of benzoyl peroxide and other medications, including Benzaclin, Duac and Acanya, which also contain clindamycin, and Benzamycin, which contains benzoyl peroxide and erythromycin, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Benzoyl peroxide acne medications should be used exactly according to instructions. Most over-the-counter and prescription benzoyl peroxide acne treatments are used once or twice per day. Benzoyl peroxide acne washes should be spread over the entire face, while spot treatments should be used only on afflicted areas. It may take several weeks for benzoyl peroxide acne treatments to become effective. Individuals should discontinue use after two months and consult a dermatologist if the treatment is still ineffective.
Side effects of benzoyl peroxide include redness, dry skin, peeling, burning, scaling of the skin and swelling, which may occur due to retention of fluid under the skin. Women who are pregnant should not use benzoyl peroxide, nor should women who are breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant. Benzoyl peroxide is not recommended for use in children age 12 and under.
According to the Mayo Clinic, benzoyl peroxide works by drying up the oil on the skin and promoting sloughing of dead skin cells. The Mayo Clinic suggests that skin irritation may be more severe with prescription benzoyl peroxide products than over-the-counter products, because the ingredient is more concentrated in prescription creams and gels. If irritation occurs, the Mayo Clinic suggests washing off the medication thoroughly after a short time, rather than leaving the medication on all day.
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