Why Benzoyl Peroxide Helps in Acne & How to Use it?

Acne is a skin disease often commonly characterized by the outburst of pimples on the skin caused due to pore blocking.

It is common to both gender is often a result of hormonal surges and is as such common in the adolescence phase, i.e., during and after puberty.

The onset of acne is early and more common in females. In a study, 231 women and 130 men were seen to have a degree of facial acne.

While the overall prevalence in women was 54%, in men it was only 40%.

Acne, being a widespread problem, has a lot of clinically approved treatments which include antibiotics, oral medications, and others.

The use of Benzoyl Peroxide is an effective and common solution to the problem of acne.

About Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is an organic compound that works as a powerful anti-microbial agent destroying both bacteria and yeasts.

It belongs to the peroxide family.

Benzoyl Peroxide has emerged as one of the most common ingredients for the treatment of acne usually used in the form of some gel, cream, facemask or a cleansing bar and is used to treat mild or moderate acne.

Apart from being a treatment to acne, its other major application includes its antiseptic and bleaching properties and it has been included in the list of essential medication needed for basic health system by the World Health Organization

Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne

Benzoyl Peroxide works in two ways to treat acne. First, it functions as an anti-microbial agent.

It is the only known substance that can bring oxygen under the skin and since bacteria cannot survive in oxygen, it eradicates 99.9% of the acne-causing bacteria when used in adequate dosage.

Secondly, it functions as a drying and peeling agent, clearing the pores of the oil and causes the skin to dry and turnover and prevents the outbreak of bacteria.

It also reduces inflammation.

Application of Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne

It is typically applied in the form of a gel or cream, only to the affected area, in the concentration ranging from 2.5% to 10%, depending on the frequency and severity of the acne.

It may be used in combination with other acne treatments, for example, in combination with a topical retinoid.

Two common combination drugs include Benzoyl Peroxide/clindamycin and adapalene/ Benzoyl Peroxide.


In non-prescription form, this drug is available in the US for concentrations ranging from 2.5% to 5% up to 10 %, and for any higher concentration, a doctor’s prescription is a must.

It is usually advised that treatment should begin with a low concentration of 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide.

Research suggests that while 2.5% concentration is better tolerated than 5% or 10%, the more effective concentrations range from 5% to 10% and a majority of treatments use a higher concentration.

It must be used in adequate dosage with a properly applied peroxide regimen.

It is suggested to apply the lowest concentration and then with time as the skin develops its tolerance for the drug, increase the concentration to a higher level causing better and subsequent clearance of acne.


This medication should be kept tightly closed in a cold and dry place away from moisture.

The National Institute of Health, USA suggests that the means of proper disposal should be consulted with the pharmacist.

Possible Side effects of benzoyl peroxide

Allergy: It might cause an allergic reaction with symptoms of rashes, irritation, and swelling, especially of the face, tongue, and throat, severe dizziness and trouble breathing.

In case of severe allergy, Benzoyl Peroxide should be discontinued in consultation with the doctor and another treatment should be sought for acne.

According to a study, around 1 % to 3% of the people are severely allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide.

Skin reaction: It may include dryness, itching, peeling of skin along with reddening and irritation, especially in the beginning of the treatment.

To reduce dryness the concentration of the medication must be reduced to the lower levels (2.5%) if the higher concentration is being used.

In order to avoid irritation, the frequency of use should be reduced and if irritation still persists, its use must be stopped altogether.

Discontinuing for some time and starting again might help because it gives time for the development of tolerance of the drug to the skin.

Precautions while using Benzoyl Peroxide

Some precautions while using benzoyl peroxide for acne:

  • This medication might increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, therefore, prolonged Sun exposure and tanning must be avoided when under its treatment while at the same time sunscreen and clothing can be used for protection.
  • It is not known if this medication passes into breast milk or it can harm an unborn baby. Therefore, breastfeeding while using is generally not advised
  • The risks of using it during pregnancy should be clearly discussed with the doctor first.
  • It might cause discoloring of hair and clothes when coming in contact. Due to its bleaching property.
  • In cases of excessive irritation, the physician must be notified
  • Safety and effectiveness have not been ensured in pediatric patients who are less than 12 years of age.

Possible Drug Interaction

  • When medication is taken to the consultation or a doctor or pharmacist, they may already be aware of the possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for it. In such a case the dosage of any medicine must not be stopped or changed without any consultation with the doctor
  • The doctor must be informed of all the forms of medication, whether prescriptive, non-prescriptive or herbal, that you are using and also of any kind of medicated lotion used on the skin.
  • A list of all medications you are taking must be shared with the doctor

Popular brands of Benzoyl Peroxide medication

Some popular brands of these medications available in the market are:

  • Epiduo®:  launched in Europe and USA by Galderma, Hertfordshire, UK. It is a combination of adapalene and Benzoyl Peroxide. It helps in the breaking outs so that in the future pimple forming is prevented. A pea-sized amount should be used in the affected area daily.
  • Benzac AC gel: launched by Galderma. It is available in 2.5%, 5% and 10% of Benzoyl Peroxide.
  • Bencort: Its generic name is Benzoyl Peroxide and hydrocortisone. Its dosage form is that of a lotion or a kit.

What consumers think about the treatment of Benzoyl Peroxide for acne

An analysis of the consumer’s review was done online and mentioned below are the positive and negative points of treatment with this medication:

What people liked about this treatment:

Time effective: Consumers have been happy with the time effectiveness of this medication.

In some cases, 85% of the pimples were noticed to be reduced in the first few weeks of its usage. As such it was quick in its healing process.

Easy application: Its application is free of any fuzz as it is usually applied in form of a gel or cream.

Also, since it is not usually taken in form of a tablet, there is no risk of forgetting or missing a dose. Even when in a rush, it forms a part of the daily routine.

Effective: It has proven to be effective in cases where other medicines have failed to work and with patients who had almost given up on every cure.

What people did not like about this treatment:

Redness: Though it has been effective in reducing acne, its usage causes redness of the skin. This redness results in irritation and burns.

Acne scars: Benzoyl Peroxide, though a solution to acne, has not been effective in reducing the scars that are caused due to it.

Therefore, an alternate medication/cream/gel must be used if you want to get rid of the marks it leaves.


When carried under the supervision of a doctor and dermatologist, the treatment of acne with Benzoyl Peroxide can be one of the most effective and can work wonders for people stigmatized because of their acne problems.

However, any lack of precaution or awareness might lead to the suffering of its side effect.

Though it has proved to be very effective in the reduction of acne and pimples, it is not a very good solution for the acne marks and another alternate medicine or lotion might be used to cause a reduction in the marks left behind by the acne.

In spite of the various side effects that it may harbor, it has proven to be one of the most successful and widely used forms of treatment and is definitely worth a try.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.