What is Benzoyl Peroxide?

What is Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl Peroxide is an anti-acne medication, that comes in many forms. It is available in both over the counter and prescribed products. There are many ways to use Benzoyl Peroxide on the skin, as it can be found in products ranging from bar soap, to lotions, creams, gels and even shaving cream.

What is Benzoyl Peroxide Used For?

Benzoyl Peroxide is primarily used for the treatment of mild to moderate acne, specifically helping to reduce the bacteria that causes the breakouts. The acne is caused by a build up of sebum and dead skin cells within the pores. A bacteria known as P. acnes grows deep in these pores and proliferates when they are clogged.”P. acnes actually survives in low oxygen environments,” explains Dr. Adam Mamelak, board-certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas. “The deep oil glands in the skin, far from the oxygen at the surface of the skin, in many ways offer the perfect resevoir for these bacteria to grow.”

To combat this, Benzoyl Peroxide can relieve this trapped skin debris.  Benzoyl Peroxide sheds the outer layer of skin, similar to the keratolytic and exfoliating effects of Salicylic Acid. “This will help with opening of the blocked pores,” states Dr. Miriam Hanson, a board-certified Dermatologist in Austin, Texas. It also delivers oxygen into the skin, which depletes the bacteria inside the pores. “Essentially, benzoyl peroxide causes the previously clogged and acne-forming areas of the skin to rid itself of the oils and bacteria that caused it to produce acne originally,” she adds.  Benzoyl Peroxide allows the skin to start anew, leaving patients with clear, blemish-free skin.

How Do I Get Benzoyl Peroxide?

There are many products that contain this agent, many of which require a prescription. “It’s often helpful to get a dermatologist’s input when using these products,” notes Dr. Hanson. “Some patients can have reactions to these agents when not used correctly, and no one product works on everyone,” she adds. This is a crucial solid reason why you should always consult with a doctor before you decide what skin routine is good for you. “There are many factors including skin type, dryness, and severity of acne that have to be considered before a solution can be decided upon,” Dr. Hanson states. Along with the varying forms of the substance, there are also different potency levels. Many over the counter versions of the product will contain a smaller amount of the substance, while dermatologist- prescribed versions will contain a higher level.

How to use Benzoyl Peroxide

It is best to keep in mind that the medication is used to remove the bacteria within the skin, therefore needing you to apply it all over the area where the acne is found. If applied in just the effected areas, you may not clear up all bacteria, which will lead to the return of the acne. Avoid the corners of the eyes and mouth, as these areas will be easily irritated and cause discomfort. Be sure to adhere to the instructions listed on your specific form of Benzoyl Peroxide, as different levels of the medication and application types require different methods of use.

How Long After Use Will I Begin Notice the Effects?

“This treatment is very much a process,” Dr.Hanson explains. “Patients should understand that it will generally not be an overnight cure for acne.” As with all medications and topical treatments, the effectiveness can vary per person. Certain patients will see early and noticeable reactions, while some may notice a more mild reaction to the treatment. “It is all varied based on the patients skin-type, and we select the preparation best suited for each patient’s specific needs,” Dr. Hanson adds.  Most patients tend to see consistent results a little over a month of use, at about 4 to 6 weeks after beginning to use the product.

Things To Take Into Consideration

As previously stated, the level of effectiveness and time in which you see results can vary. Since this product induces peeling, it can also be linked to dryness and irritation of the skin, with redness sometimes occurring in the areas of application. Make sure you discuss moisturizing options with your Dermatologist, as you want to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy. Also, this compound is known for its bleach-like properties when exposed to materials. Be careful with towel and pillowcases. It can discolor shirt collars as well. “Just like other prescriptions, it’s important to finish the prescribed treatment,” Dr. Mamelak emphasizes. “You may be seeing fantastic results, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still bacteria within the skin that needs to be taken care of,” she states.

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