Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne

Cosmetic industry is flooded with skin care products that can clear clogged pore, remove oil build up and clear acne. Finding the right product with best ingredients is always tricky.

Worry not, we decided to carry a research on benefits of benzoyl peroxide and how to use it for maximum benefits on your face, chest, back, shoulders and buttocks.

Why benzoyl peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide can work wonders on your skin. It has the ability to kill acne causing bacteria on your skin, reduce inflammation as well as clear the clogged pores. It works through denying them their nutritional resource to reproduce. Acne causing bacteria have a very short lifetime, benzoyl peroxide thus can eliminate all bacteria within 48hrs.

Benzoyl peroxide for acne
Benzoyl peroxide for acne

Generally, less than 5% of people may be allergic to benzoyl peroxide, characterized by itching, redness and burning sensation. Skin care experts advise you start using BPO slowly and see how your skin reacts, however minor irritation is normal. BPO comes with different brands and strength ranging from 2.5%, 4%, 5% and 10%. It may come as gel, cream or liquid wash, pad, foam and soap according to Mayo Clinic.

Do benzoyl peroxide cause permanent scarring? The good news is No, it’s very unlikely to cause permanent scarring to your skin.

Does BPO really work? The answer to this important question is Yes, it often does. BPO has the ability to destroy P. acnes (propionibacterium) bacteria that also kick start inflammation process.

What is benzoyl peroxide?

BPO is a non- prescription topical antibiotic considered effective to those suffering from moderate to severe acne.

What causes acne? Acne occur when sebum and dead skin cells clog the hair follicles. Benzoyl peroxide has the ability to penetrate the hair follicle and kill acne causing bacteria. It is a good exfoliating agent that increase skin turnover and help reduce the oil and dead skin cells from the skin pores.

Before and after BPO
Before and after BPO

This has enabled it to be a worldwide trusted product to fight bumps for many years. Benzoyl peroxide is a powerful ingredient that is effective for whiteheads, blackheads and even big red pimples or cystic acne. However, a higher concentration does not necessarily mean it’s more effective than lower concentration.

How does benzoyl peroxide work?

It is considered a synthetic chemical that imitates two natural substances. Benzoyl peroxide when applied in skin breaks down to benzoic acid and oxygen. During this chemical break down it kills germs, unclogged skin pores and relieve skin inflammation.

BPO

Benzoic acid has been used since 1890’s to treat skin infections. In addition, oxygen is toxic to some types of bacteria though not necessarily to acne causing bacteria. If you are cat lover, avoid letting the kitty lick your skin, it is very poisonous to cats.

Benefits of benzoyl peroxide to your skin

BPO is a proven acne treatment, used an ingredient of many prescriptions and over the counter products. Its widely recommended by dermatologists and skin care experts due to its effectiveness on different skin types.

Benefits of Benzoyl

Its main benefits include:

  • It kills acne causing bacteria.
  • It reduces inflammation.
  • Unclogs blocked skin pores.
  • Works quickly within 5 days.
  • It helps prevent antibiotic resistance. Benzoyl peroxide can be used together with other antibiotics.

Side effects of using benzoyl peroxide

Generally speaking, most of the associated side effects are manageable. Some of the skin reaction include:

  • Causes dry skin
  • Peeling
  • Itching
  • Allergic reaction resulting to rashes and hives.
  • Redness or irritation.
  • May trigger photosensitivity or sun sensitivity.
  • May cause black spots or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
  • Bleaching the fabrics. Care should be taken to avoid bleaching your cloth, towels and beddings.
  • Accelerate skin aging and wrinkles development. According to Smartskincare, BPO generates oxygen free radicals the accelerate skin aging similar to sun exposure.
  • May lead to other skin infection. In the process of killing acne causing bacterial, BPO may also kill good bacteria and trigger bacteria imbalance and infection.
    benzoyl and mandelic acid
    Benzoyl and mandelic acid

It’s important to use oil free moisturizers can help manage these effects. Using white pillow case, bedding can help prevent bleaching effects. On other hand, not everyone should use benzoyl peroxide. If you are dark skinned, consider using sun protection when using this product.

How to use benzoyl peroxide for acne?

  1. Its considered a good practice to read the printed information leaflet inside the pack before using or starting the treatment. This will give more information on how to use, side effects and how to deal with them.
  2. Its recommended to use first 4% or 5% strength of benzoyl peroxide once or twice a day. If it does irritate your skin, try 2.5% strength until they subsidize. These strengths work the same although the lower the concentration the minimal the side effects. If need arise, increase their strength gradually. Apply evenly in all the affected area not just a spot.
  3. Apply benzoyl peroxide cream, gel or lotion after about 15 minutes. This should be after washing the affected area gently with soap and pat dry.
  4. In case you are using benzoyl wash, wet your skin and pour the liquid on your hand and wash the affected area. Leave it for a few minutes before rinsing off and pat dry with a clean towel.
  5. If you have dry skin apply oil free and fragrance free moisturizing creams.

Caution

When using benzoyl peroxide avoid letting it get in sensitive parts of your skin like nostrils and mouth. If you have cats in your house avoid letting them lick your skin its poisonous. Do not apply on a sore or irritated areas of your skin. Avoid letting BPO get in contact with your hair and cloth since it can cause bleaching.

However, if you experience severe burning, itching, redness, irritation or blistering, you should stop using benzoyl peroxide and seek doctors help.

Other skin products you may include in our routine:

  • You may add a toner to restore skin natural pH balance.
  • Exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells and unclog skin pores.
  • Use “non-comedogenic” moisturizers. It will help prevent skin dehydration and clogging of pores.
  • Avoid harsh soap that can strip your skin its natural oils.
  • Use soaps with acne fighting ingredient like salicylic acid and sodium sulfacetamide. Salicylic acid help clear blocked pores, reduce swelling and redness. Sodium sulfacetamide interferes with growth of bacteria.
  • Change of lifestyle (like avoiding alcohol, tobacco and stress) and balanced diet may also help in improving your skin.

Summary

In summary, benzoyl peroxide works wonders on skin through several mechanisms. It kills bacteria, promote growth of new skin cells as it replaces pimple infested skin with new one. It is available in pharmacies as gel, cream, lotion, wash foam and bar soap.

Before using BPO treatment like any other medicine, you should weigh against the good it can do. As you make the decision with your doctor, the following are some considerations

1. Allergies

Let your doctor know of any known allergies to food, animals, dyes and preservatives.  In non-prescription products read the instruction as of the packaged ingredients carefully and make informed decision.

2. Drug interaction with other drugs.

Let your doctor or pharmacist know the other medicines you are using. Certain medicines may not be used together while others may be used even if an interaction may occur. This may help the doctor either change the dose or other precaution taken if need be.

3. Age

Age plays an important role when doctor prescribe dosage.  Currently there is no known study on effects of benzoyl peroxide on people of 12 years and above or specific documented problem according to Mayo Clinic. Studies on aged population have also not been performed or any specific aged related problem documented.

4. Dietary

Certain medications are prescribed to be taken or used at certain times especially around eating time either before or after. Using alcohol and certain food may cause interaction to occur. Consider discussing with your doctor the interaction with food, alcohol and tobacco.

5. Other diseases and medical conditions.

In case you have other infection or disorder consider discussing with your doctor or reading the instructions therein. Medical conditions like eczema, dermatitis, seborrheic and red or raw skin may need the change of dosage or the whole treatment.

Discuss with your health care professionals the above consideration before using benzoyl peroxide as a face wash, on acne scars on your back, chest or any other bumps infested part of the body.

Sources and References

Livestrong: How does benzoyl peroxide work on acne?

Mayo clinic: Side effects of BPO?

Medicine net: What is the dosage of benzoyl peroxide?

WebMD: Skin problems and treatments?

Wikipedia: Benzoyl peroxide?

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