medication information

Benzoyl Peroxide

We want to make sure you fully understand your treatment. 
Below outlines the directions, benefits, expectations, and risks with Benzoyl Peroxide.

Benzoyl Peroxide (typically shortened to BPO) is an antimicrobial treatment for acne. When applied to your skin, BPO penetrates pores and releases oxygen compounds that kill acne-causing bacteria. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help fight acne.

Another important function of benzoyl peroxide is to prevent antibiotic resistance. Topical and oral antibiotics are commonly used for the treatment of acne, but your skin’s bacteria can become resistant to them, rendering these treatments ineffective. Due to its mechanism of action, benzoyl peroxide prevents skin bacteria from becoming resistant to antibiotics, allowing them to remain effective.

How to choose a BPO:

When choosing a benzoyl peroxide product, keep in mind that lower concentrations (2.5% - 5%) are just as effective and less irritating than higher concentration (10%) products. Your doctor may have recommended either a benzoyl peroxide wash, or a cream/gel that should not be rinsed off. Please make sure to follow your doctor’s recommendation.

There are dozens of good benzoyl peroxide washes to choose from, but here are a few of our favorites.

How to apply BPO:

  • Use your fingertips to gently massage the benzoyl peroxide into your skin. Make sure you apply enough of the medication to cover the entire area that you are treating, not just the individual acne lesions.
  • If you are using a benzoyl peroxide wash, finish by splashing your face with warm water, and patting your face dry with a soft towel.
  • Benzoyl peroxide works best by preventing pimples from forming. It should not be used as a spot treatment.

How to avoid side effects:

It's not uncommon to experience some occasional redness and scaling of the skin from benzoyl peroxide, especially during the first few weeks of treatment. To reduce your side effects, follow these directions carefully.

  • Only apply enough medication to lightly cover your affected areas. Using more does not mean it will work better! It often only means more irritation.
  • Do not apply the medication to your skin if it is irritated. You can skip a few days until the irritation resolves, and then resume applying. If your skin is very sensitive, you may only ever be able to use this medication every other day.

A couple things to keep in mind:

  • Benzoyl peroxide can bleach towels and clothing – be careful!
  • Benzoyl peroxide can break down tretinoin, making it ineffective. It should not be used at the same time as generic tretinoin.

Consistent usage is key!

If you become pregnant while taking this medication, discontinue use immediately and message your doctor for an alternative.