Benzoyl peroxide acne treatment

Benzoyl peroxide is a chemical classified under organic peroxides. This compound is composed of two benzoyl groups attached to a peroxide group. It was developed by Jack Breitbart of REVLON to treat acne. Basically, benzoyl peroxide when applied on the skin creates free radicals which are deadly to bacteria as well as fungus. It also acts as an oxidizing agent or an oxygen donor as well. Being an oxidizer, benzoyl peroxide can actually bleach hair, teeth and fabric.

II. How does Benzoyl Peroxide works on acne?

Benzoyl peroxide is noted for its antiseptic/antibacterial action. It kills bacteria that cause inflammation of the oil glands. Benzoyl peroxide as an oxidizing agent dries out the sebum and fluids that have built up inside a blocked pore. This product also possesses mild anti-inflammatory action which means that it may reduce the swelling of an infected pore. Users should not rely on the anti-inflammatory action of benzoyl peroxide since it is very mild. You can use topical niacinamide and copper peptide as a much better alternative for reducing the swelling of pimples.


Benzoyl Peroxide does not cause bacterial resistance which means that you can use this product for long periods of time without the reduction of its germ killing power. Antibiotics usually work very well during the initial treatment stage but its ability to kill bacteria degrades over time. There is also a point where a specific antibiotic is already ineffective because the bacteria have already adapted to its effects.


It is important for you to make sure that this product does not come in contact with your pillows, clothes and hair as it bleaches these things upon contact.

It does not reduce the sebum output of the oil gland.

It does not enhance tissue repair of acne damaged skin.

It chemically disables topical Vitamin-C when used at the same time. Benzoyl Peroxide is an “oxidizer” while Vitamin-C is “anti-oxidant”. These products should be used at separate application times. For example, you can use vitamin-C at daytime and use benzoyl peroxide at night.


Benzoyl peroxide alone (monotherapy) is already effective in reducing the population of acne causing bacteria but Benzoyl peroxide in combination with topical erythromycin is more effective than benzoyl peroxide alone. Premixed benzoyl peroxide and antibiotic is now available. Typically, it is 5% benzoyl peroxide and 3% erythromycin or 1% clindamycin and 5% benzoyl peroxide. When using Benzoyl Peroxide, it is advisable to use the 2.5% cream or gel because research have shown that the 2.5% Benzoyl peroxide gel is just as effective as the 5% gel but with less irritation.

“A water based 5% benzoyl peroxide gel (Benzac® W5) was compared with topical 1% clindamycin phosphate solution (Cleocin T®) in the treatment of acne vulgaris using a randomized, investigator blind study design. Lesion counts were significantly reduced in both treatment groups over the 12-week study period; however, the reduction of total lesions produced by benzoyl peroxide gel was significantly greater than that produced by clindamycin phosphate (P< 0.05). Clindamycin phosphate had a milder effect on the skin surface in terms of peeling and drying than the benzoyl peroxide gel”.
A comparative study of benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin phosphate for treating acne vulgaris
British Journal of Dermatology 119 (5), 615–622.)

Treating acne vulgaris with a combination of 5% benzoyl peroxide plus 1% clindamycin appeared to have some advantages over benzoyl peroxide monotherapy. The combination gel reduced inflammatory lesions to a greater extent than did the gel’s individual components.In reducing the number of comedones, however, the effects of combination therapy and benzoyl peroxide monotherapy did not differ significantly.
( Source: Clindamycin-Benzoyl Peroxide Combination May Offer Some Advantages in Acne Vulgaris Family Pratice News, May 1, 2000 by Sherry Boschert)

The 2.5% benzoyl peroxide formulation was more effective than its vehicle and equivalent to the 5% and 10% concentrations in reducing the number of inflammatory lesions (papules and pustules). Desquamation, erythema, and symptoms of burning with the 2.5% gel were less frequent than with the 10% preparation but equivalent to the 5% gel. The 2.5% formulation also significantly reduced Propionibacterium acnes and the percentage of free fatty acids in the surface lipids after 2 weeks of topical application.
( Source: Comparing 2.5%, 5%, and 10% benzoyl peroxide on inflammatory acne vulgaris.Mills OH Jr, Kligman AM, Pochi P, Comite H.)

III. Forms, Dosage and Administration

Benzoyl peroxide comes in creams, lotions or gel. The basic mode of delivery is by sparingly coating the surface of the skin with this medication. It is available in 2.5%, 5% and 10% concentration. It is always best to use the small dosage first and see the reaction of your skin to the medication.

IV. Precautions

Do not use near the eyes, lips or inside the nose. During the first few weeks of using this product your skin may become irritated. Avoid using other products with an exfoliating agent such as retinoids, salicylic acid and resorcinol. Avoid using other products with high amounts of alcohol and abrasives. Benzoyl Peroxide cannot be used with Topical Vitamin-C at the same time as they would both cancel their effectiveness. Benzoyl Peroxide is an oxidant and Vitamin-C is an anti-oxidant so these two products are definitely incompatible.

V. Side Effects

Slight stinging sensation, slight peeling of the skin and slight redness of the skin.

Brand Names

Benoxyl®, Benzac®, Desquam® , Fostex®, Oxy 10®, PanOxyl®

References Safety data for benzoyl peroxide (updated September 2003) Benzoyl peroxide Benzoyl Peroxide( updated December 2006 ) Benzoyl Peroxide( updated 10/01/2003)

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