Treating Acne with Benzoyl Peroxide

How to Treat Acne with Benzoyl Peroxide

Whether you've just started using benzoyl peroxide, or you're considering trying this acne treatment, you probably have questions. Get answers to some common questions about benzoyl peroxide, and learn how to get the best results from your treatment.

Benzoyl Peroxide
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Benzoyl peroxide is a topical medication used to treat acne breakouts. It can be found in cleansers, lotions, creams, gels, and even toner-like solutions.

In fact, you might have already used this acne-fighting ingredient. It's a common ingredient in over-the-counter acne products.

But it's not just an OTC treatment. Benzoyl peroxide is also available by prescription, and it's an active ingredient in many combination treatments, like:

Benzoyl peroxide is classified as an antimicrobial, which means it helps reduce the amount of acne-causing bacteria on the skin. Less bacteria means less breakouts.

Benzoyl peroxide also helps keep the pores clear from blockages. It's the most effective over-the-counter acne treatment available.


Benzoyl peroxide, like many acne medications, can cause dryness and peeling. It can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it's important that you wear sunscreen every day.

By starting off slowly, it's less likely that you will get really uncomfortable dryness and peeling.


Even if you start off carefully and slowly, you can expect to get dry. Very dry. And possibly rough, peely and flaky. These are all normal side effect.

You can manage this dryness, though. First, try using a moisturizer once or twice a day. You could even apply your moisturizer under the benzoyl peroxide to act as a sort of buffer between the medication and your skin.

Most people find their skin gets used to the benzoyl peroxide over time and the dry, peeling skin fades away.


Some people just can't handle benzoyl peroxide, especially if you skin is super sensitive. And, yes, some people are truly allergic to this medication.

But there are differences between a benzoyl peroxide allergy and normal side effects. 

Benzoyl peroxide can cause some fairly intense dryness, peeling, and flaking.  You also may notice redness, burning and itching right after applying the medication.  These are normal reactions.

If you're getting swelling, severe redness, blisters, or incredibly irritated skin, you may actually have an allergy.  In any case, stop using it and call your doctor right away.


Yes, the active ingredient in Proactiv is benzoyl peroxide.

Proactiv broke ground as the first acne treatment kit (meaning a 3-step program rather than just one product) on the market. Some Proactiv products also contain ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid.

But Proactiv isn't the only acne treatment regimen that contains benzoyl peroxide. Many other brands have followed in Proactiv's wake, so you have plenty of other choices if you're looking for an all-inclusive acne skin care kit.

Many of these acne treatment products are less expensive than Proactiv, so you'll save some money. But you don't need an all-inclusive kit. You can buy benzoyl peroxide cleansers and lotions on their own too.


Patience is a virtue, and this adage definitely applies to treating acne. Benzoyl peroxide, like all treatments, takes time to work. You may need to wait eight to 10 weeks or more before seeing a noticeable improvement in your skin.

As tempting as it may be, don't slather on more medication, or apply more often than directed. You'll increase your chances of annoying side effects.


So you're all jazzed up and ready to start using benzoyl peroxide. That's great!

But did you know that lots of people stop using benzoyl peroxide before it ever has a chance to work? Knowing what to expect from your treatment can help you get the best results possible.

This week-by-week treatment guide will help.


Once you get started with benzoyl peroxide, remember to be consistent. (Oh, you might want to keep it away from your towels and pillowcases too.  Benzoyl peroxide will stain anything it comes in contact with.)

To get the most out of your benzoyl peroxide treatments, these tips can help.