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  5. Is Benzoyl Peroxide Good For Skin?

If you’ve ever had skin issues, you must have tried enough treatments by now. However, there is one substance that skin care experts swear by for its effectiveness against a variety of skin issues - benzoyl peroxide. Let's find out why it is good for your skin, its side effects and usage instructions in today’s blog.

What Is Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic used to kill bacteria on the surface of the skin. It is an organic peroxide [1] with oxidising activity, meaning it has the ability to release oxygen on the skin to kill bacteria.

The structure of benzoyl peroxide is similar to hydrogen peroxide, which is commonly used to treat cuts and wounds. Besides its antimicrobial properties, benzoyl peroxide is anti-inflammatory and can open up clogged pores on the skin.

Uses Of Benzoyl Peroxide For Skin

1. Benzoyl Peroxide For Acne

Benzoyl peroxide is a topical medication for acne. It is found in cleansers, lotions, gels, creams and toners [2]. It is an OTC (over-the-counter) treatment, but is also available in prescription strength. 

OTC benzoyl peroxide treatment works well for mild acne, while prescription strength benzoyl peroxide works for moderate acne. It is one of the active ingredients in many combination prescription treatments for acne like BenzaClin, Benzamycin, Acanya, Duac, Epiduo, etc. [3]

2. Benzoyl Peroxide For Dark Spots Or Scars

Inflammatory acne like papules, pustules, nodules and cystic acne leave scars or dark spots on the skin. No matter how much you resist the urge to pick at them, it is common to see dark spots or scars post acne.

Some skin care experts opine that benzoyl peroxide can shed dead skin cells and make the dark spots or scars seem less prominent [4]. However, benzoyl peroxide’s function as an exfoliant is not scientifically proven.

3. Benzoyl Peroxide For Warts

Warts are small, flat or round bumps that appear on the face, legs and back of hands. Benzoyl peroxide is prescribed for warts as it can irritate the skin and cause the skin to peel, resulting in removal of warts. 5% benzoyl peroxide is usually recommended by your dermatologist which is available as an OTC treatment.

4. Benzoyl Peroxide For Scalp

Hair care products may be a reason behind your scalp breakouts. Acne on the scalp can be treated by benzoyl peroxide due to its antibacterial and unclogging properties. The disadvantage with benzoyl peroxide for scalp is that it can bleach your hair.

5. Benzoyl Peroxide For Boils

Boils are caused by bacteria and inflamed follicles. Benzoyl peroxide can be used to treat boils as it can kill the pathogenic bacteria when applied topically.

6. Benzoyl Peroxide For Rosacea

Benzoyl peroxide can be used to treat rosacea [5] but is not approved by FDA for the treatment of rosacea. Rosacea is a skin condition that causes visible blood vessels on the skin. Benzoyl peroxide may irritate the skin in patients with rosacea. So consult your dermatologist before you begin the treatment.

7. Benzoyl Peroxide For Skin Whitening

Benzoyl peroxide is a bleaching agent and can turn the skin whiter. While you are using topical benzoyl peroxide, you may notice your skin turning one shade lighter after prolonged use. It is for this reason that benzoyl peroxide is not advised for scalp acne, as it can turn the hair white.

8. Can Benzoyl Peroxide Be Used For Milia

Milia or milk spots are keratin-filled spots that appear on the face. Benzoyl peroxide is not an effective treatment for milia. 

How Do You Use Benzoyl Peroxide On Your Face?

Benzoyl peroxide can be used in the concentrations of 2.5 - 10 % [6].


Consult your doctor before using benzoyl peroxide  if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

1. Benzoyl Peroxide Face Washes And Cleansers

Pick about 4% concentration of benzoyl peroxide and increase upto 10% based on how well your skin takes it.

How To Use:

  • Wet your face and gently massage the cleanser in circular motions.
  • Rinse thoroughly with water after a minute or two.
  • Pat dry with a clean and soft towel.

2. Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Creams, Gels And Spot Treatments

Choose a milder concentration like 2.5% and go upto 5% as these are leave-on products.

How To Use:

  • Cleanse your face with a mild cleanser and pat dry.
  • Apply benzoyl peroxide cream or gel either on affected areas or the whole face.
  • Use the gel or cream in your morning and night skin care routines.

Word Of Caution:

Keep benzoyl peroxide away from your eyes. Wash with lukewarm water if you’ve eye irritation.

Do You Put Benzoyl Peroxide All Over Your Face?

Dermatologists recommend using benzoyl peroxide all over the face. This is the only way to clear up the pimples and prevent further development of acne.

Side Effects Of Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide can cause extreme dryness [7] or skin peeling in some people. Skin can become flaky and peely at times. Use it minimally during the first one or two weeks and gradually increase the frequency. Follow it up with a good moisturizer. 

Slight redness, burning or itching may also be some of the side effects of benzoyl peroxide.

Benzoyl peroxide can make your skin prone to sun damage. It becomes crucial to use sunscreen everyday before stepping outdoors.

Word Of Caution:

If you notice severe redness, swelling and blisters, you may be allergic to benzoyl peroxide. Consult your dermatologist immediately for guidance. Benzoyl peroxide is not recommended for people with sensitive skin, eczema or dermatitis. It can also stain your hair and clothes. Make sure you wash your hands after each application.

What Bacteria Does Benzoyl Peroxide Kill?

Benzoyl peroxide penetrates the skin to kill Propionibacterium acnes (P. Acnes) bacteria [8]. It produces oxygen on the skin and this bacteria cannot survive in an oxygen rich environment. After killing P.acnes bacteria, benzoyl peroxide unclogs pores and keeps them healthy.

How Many Times A Day Should You Use Benzoyl Peroxide?

Skin care experts recommend that you use benzoyl peroxide once or twice everyday [9]. You can start with a 4% strength and move to higher strengths. In case you find dryness, switch to a weaker formula like 2.5% strength. Avoid using benzoyl peroxide in the morning if your skin is extremely sensitive to sun.

Does Benzoyl Peroxide Burn Skin?

Benzoyl peroxide can burn or sting a tad bit in the initial days of treatment. This is a common side effect and subsides with time. Your skin may also feel itchy or red but if you notice severe reactions, consult your dermatologist.

How Long Does Benzoyl Peroxide Take To Work?

Wait for 8-10 weeks to see a visible change in your skin. Don't be tempted to apply an increased amount of benzoyl peroxide to cure your acne faster. It takes time to fade away acne with benzoyl peroxide just like any other acne treatment.

If you have been patient with OTC benzoyl peroxide treatment for over 12 weeks and still didn't spot any difference in your acne, it is time to make a visit to the dermatologist's office [10]. Your doctor may prescribe a different treatment for your acne.

How Much Benzoyl Peroxide Is Too Much?

Benzoyl peroxide can be used in concentrations ranging from 2.5% - 10%. Start with lowest concentration because sometimes they can fade away acne without even drying out the skin. Do not use rinse off products or leave-on products for more than twice a day during the 8-10 week treatment.

Benzoyl Peroxide Vs Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid can be used for non-inflammatory acne like blackheads and whiteheads. It is an excellent exfoliant that can shed dead skin cells and wipe away acne.  Unlike benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid does not stain your hair or clothes. 

Like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid may be drying for the skin. Start with minimal application at first and switch to using it every day.

Benzoyl peroxide is used as a gold standard to treat acne for more than five decades now. It is proven to be beneficial for your skin provided you use a good moisturizer and sunscreen. Are you ready to counteract your skin issues with benzoyl peroxide?

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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