Acne: Treatment With Benzoyl Peroxide

Topic Overview

Benzoyl peroxide is a medicine you use to treat acne. It comes in different strengths in lotions, gels, soaps, and liquids.

How does benzoyl peroxide treat acne?

Benzoyl peroxide unclogs skin pores. It also helps stop bacteria from growing and causing acne pimples and cystic lesions.

At first, acne may get worse. Your skin may get red and peel. It's not a quick fix. You may need to use the product for as long as 4 to 6 weeks before your acne starts improving.

Does it have side effects?

Side effects of benzyl peroxide for some people include:

  • Dry or peeling skin.
  • Skin that feels warm.
  • Tingling or slight stinging.

While using a product that contains benzoyl peroxide, call a doctor if you develop:

  • A rash or itching.
  • Blisters or a burning feeling.
  • Redness.
  • Swelling.

Who should not use this product?

Talk to a doctor before allowing a child younger than 12 to use a product that contains benzoyl peroxide.

Where can I get benzoyl peroxide?

You can buy products that contain benzoyl peroxide in the grocery store or pharmacy. Look at the outside package to find products that have benzoyl peroxide as the active ingredient. Strengths range from 2.5% to 10% benzoyl peroxide. Start with the lowest strength to see how your skin reacts. Brand names include Benoxyl and Benzac.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

Health Tools

Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.

Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Ellen K. Roh, MD - Dermatology

Current as ofOctober 5, 2017

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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