About benzoyl peroxide
|Type of medicine||Topical preparation for acne|
|Used for||Mild or moderate acne|
|Also called||Acnecide®, Brevoxyl®, PanOxyl®, Oxy® 10|
|Available as||Cream, lotion, gel and liquid wash|
Acne is a common cause of spots and is usually treatable. About 9 in 10 teenagers develop some degree of acne. It is often mild and can be treated with preparations applied directly to the skin, such as benzoyl peroxide. It may, however, last for several years.
Benzoyl peroxide has three actions - it kills bacteria, it reduces inflammation, and it helps to unplug blocked pores. You can buy benzoyl peroxide preparations at pharmacies, without a prescription.
Benzoyl peroxide is also available combined with an antibiotic or another medicine used for acne (such as in Duac® Once Daily, Quinoderm®, Epiduo®). Some of these preparations need to be prescribed by a doctor.
Before using benzoyl peroxide
To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using benzoyl peroxide it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to use benzoyl peroxide
- Before you use benzoyl peroxide, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the preparation you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from using it.
- It is usually recommended that you use benzoyl peroxide once or twice each day. When you first start using it, you will be recommended to use a lower-strength preparation. This will help keep any skin irritation to a minimum. The lower-strength preparations often work as well as the higher strengths. If necessary, you can increase the strength of the preparation as you go on, but do this gradually.
- If you are using a cream or gel, about 15 minutes or so before you apply it, wash the area with soap and water and gently dry it with a towel. Then apply the cream or gel and leave it on.
- If you are using a 'wash', wet the area of your skin you are treating, and then pour some of the liquid on to your hands and use it to wash the affected areas. Wait for 1 to 2 minutes before you rinse it off. Dry the area gently with a towel.
- As you apply benzoyl peroxide, try to keep it away from any sensitive areas of your skin such as around your eyes and mouth, and the inside of your nose. Do not apply it to any areas of skin which are irritated or sore.
- If you forget to use it at the usual time, just apply it as soon as you remember and then continue as before.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Continue to use this treatment for at least six weeks before deciding if it is working for you or not. The most common reason for treatment failure is giving up too soon thinking that the treatment is not working. If your skin problem has not improved within two months, make an appointment to speak with your doctor who will advise you on other preparations to use.
- Try not to get any of the preparation on your hair or clothing, as it can cause bleaching.
- Benzoyl peroxide may cause some people to become more sensitive to sunlight than they are normally. Use a sunscreen that protects against UVA light and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, especially in strong sunlight or until you know how your skin reacts. Do not use sunbeds.
- Once your spots have cleared, acne commonly flares up again if you stop treatment, so it is common to carry on with a maintenance treatment. You may find that one application every other day with a low-strength preparation is sufficient for this.
Can benzoyl peroxide cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common benzoyl peroxide
|What can I do if I experience this?|
|Dry skin and irritation||If this becomes troublesome, reduce the number of times you
use the preparation, or stop using it altogether for a few days.
When your skin has recovered, start using it again, but less frequently.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store benzoyl peroxide
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Dr Hannah Gronow|
|Last Checked: 05/09/2012||Document ID: 3390 Version: 23||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.