Benzoyl Peroxide Side Effects
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Benzoyl Peroxide Side Effects

Using benzoyl peroxide to treat acne can affect your skin in various ways.

Benzoyl peroxide is a medication used to treat acne, which is caused when dead skin cells mix with sebum, an oil that occurs naturally on the skin and hair. This combination blocks the pores and causes irritation and infection that leads to zits, cysts, pimples and comedones. Benzoyl peroxide dries up the excess oil so that it doesn’t mix with the skin cells and block the pores.

It is available in numerous over-the-counter forms such as soaps, washes and topical medications. A stronger form of benzoyl peroxide is available with a prescription from your doctor, which is usually given in conjunction with antibiotics to help control infection.

As is the case with any medication, benzoyl peroxide has some side effects associated with use.

Skin Irritation

Benzoyl peroxide can irritate and dry out your skin even if you are using it as directed; however, if you suddenly stop using this medication, it is likely that your acne will worsen. Instead, you should decrease the frequency that you use benzoyl peroxide, so instead of using it three times per day, try using it only twice per day. Additionally, if you are using any other acne treatment products while you are using benzoyl peroxide, contact your dermatologist to determine your course of action.

Skin Sensations

While you are using benzoyl peroxide, you may notice slight stinging, tingling or burning of your skin. If these symptoms are severe, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible as the medication may be too strong for your skin.


Benzoyl peroxide can bleach your skin, hair and clothing. If you have a dark complexion, your skin may get lighter in areas where you use benzoyl peroxide. This, however, isn’t always a negative side effect. In some cases, acne can cause hyperpigmentation, which is a darkening of the skin. When that occurs, the bleaching effects of benzoyl peroxide may not be a bad thing. The bleaching effects of benzoyl peroxide may be intensified when exposed to the sun.

To protect clothing and hair from the bleaching effects of benzoyl peroxide, pull hair back if it will come into contact with the acne affected area and wear old clothes. If the benzoyl peroxide comes into contact with hair or clothing, rinse it off immediately and wash it as soon as possible to minimize the risk of bleaching.

Severe Side Effects

If you experience severe burning or itching, you need to contact your doctor immediately. Also, if you skin blisters, cracks, swells or gets extremely red, you must contact a doctor.

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