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All About Benzoyl Peroxide

How To Treat Acne with Benzoyl Peroxide

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Updated May 16, 2014

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.

What Is Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl Peroxide
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Benzoyl peroxide is a topical medication used to treat acne breakouts. It can be found in 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. It's also included 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.

What Are the Possible Side Effects?

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.

Help! Benzoyl Peroxide Is Drying Out My Skin!

Even if you start off carefully and slowly, you can expect to get dry. And possibly rough and flaky. There's no doubt benzoyl peroxide can be drying. It's normal.

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.

But I'm Really Dry. Am I Allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide?

Some people just can't handle benzoyl peroxide, especially if the 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.

Hey! Isn’t Benzoyl Peroxide Used in Proactiv?

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.

How Long Will It Take to See Results?

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.

What Can I Expect from Benzoyl Peroxide Treatment?

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 can help.

Tips for Using Benzoyl Peroxide

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