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Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an over the counter topical medication used to treat mild to moderate acne.

Benzoyl Peroxide

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The Skinny


Average Recovery

0 days

Permanence

Temporary

Application

Topical

Surgical

No

Cost

$10 - $237

The Specifics


What is benzoyl peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide is a common component of many over the counter acne products including cleansers, gels, lotions, foams, and soaps. Benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic that kills Propionibacterium acnes (p. acnes), which is one of the most common causes of acne breakouts. Benzoyl Peroxide also dries skin cells and causes peeling.

Benzoyl Peroxide 101

Benzoyl Peroxide Skincare Benefits Infographic

It is common to combine benzoyl peroxide with other acne fighting medications like salicylic acid, azelaic acid, and topical antibiotics or oral antibiotics like clindamycin. Benzoyl peroxide is best used as a spot treatment for mild to moderate acne; it is not indicated for severe acne which would be better treated by prescription acne medications like topical retinoids, oral medications, or other vitamin-A derivatives like Accutane.

What cosmetic concerns does benzoyl peroxide treat?

  1. Acne: Benzoyl peroxide has antiseptic properties that can treat acne by lessening the amount of acne causing bacteria on the skin, while also causing skin to dry and peel.

Who is the ideal candidate for benzoyl peroxide?

The ideal candidate for benzoyl peroxide is any individual experiencing mild to moderate acne breakouts. Benzoyl peroxide is not recommended for those with active skin infections or sloughing of skin in the area to be treated.

Types of Acne

Types of Acne Illustration Comedonal Inflammatory Cystic on Fair Skin

What is the average recovery associated with benzoyl peroxide?

There is no recovery period with regular benzoyl peroxide use. Patients are advised to use gentle skin care and lessen sun exposure while using benzoyl peroxide, especially in higher concentrations.

What are the potential side effects of benzoyl peroxide?

Possible side effects from regular benzoyl peroxide use include itching, tingling, stinging, dryness, peeling, flaking, redness, and irritation. Less common side effects include burning, crusting, and swelling.

What can someone expect from the results of benzoyl peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide will reduce the appearance and frequency of acne flare ups over time with consistent use. Benzoyl peroxide is most commonly used as a spot treatment for acute flares. Results typically begin after three weeks, but may take eight to 12 weeks in some individuals.

What is the average cost of benzoyl peroxide?

The average cost of benzoyl peroxide is $10 to $250. The actual cost of the benzoyl peroxide will vary by location, healthcare provider, and individual candidate needs.

Pros

fast actinganti-inflammatory properties

Cons

dehydratinghyperpigmentationhigher risk to sun damage skin

Invasiveness Score

mildmoderatesevere
1
2
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4
5
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10

Invasiveness is graded based on factors such as anesthesia practices, incisions, and recovery notes common to this procedure.

What to Expect


Over-the-counter acne treatments have been used for decades to help get rid of unwanted blemishes on the face and body. Benzoyl peroxide is a common active ingredient in acne fighting products and is sold in creams, washes, and foams. Here is a quick guide for what to expect before, during, and after treatment with benzoyl peroxide.

The Takeaway


Benzoyl peroxide is a common active ingredient in many over the counter acne treatments. This topical treatment kills p. acnes bacteria and causes skin cells to dry and peel. Benzoyl Peroxide is indicated for use in mild acne and moderate acne.

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Source List

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AEDIT uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Yanhan Wang, Tissa R. Hata Yun, Larry Tong, Christos C. Zouboulis, Richard L. Gallo, Chun-Ming Huang The Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Propionibacterium acnes CAMP Factor-Targeted Acne Vaccines ; 2018-11-11
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