Acne is one of the most common skin conditions and is suffered by millions of Americans. In the past, the condition was associated with adolescence but while blemishes and breakouts are more prevalent in younger skin, more and more adults are reporting the problem. With such a widespread issue comes a very high demand for over the counter treatments. Even mild acne can be embarrassing and frustrating and those who experience breakouts almost always look for a solution to clear the skin. Over the years, the beauty care industry has introduced a host of new treatments available for acne sufferers but throughout all of the advances in science, Benzoyl Peroxide remains one of the most popular ingredients for preventing and treating blemishes.
Benzoyl Peroxide is a member of the peroxide family and was the first organic peroxide to be synthesized in laboratories. You can now find the ingredient in a variety of products for acne prone skin.
Benzoyl Peroxide has been available in over the counter preparations for decades and is one of the most reliable topical treatments for mild to moderate acne. The ingredient works by oxygenating the follicle and killing the bacteria responsible for acne breakouts. The compound also encourages skin cells to slough off, thereby clearing pores and allowing blemishes to heal.
Over the counter creams, gels, washes and lotions will have a Benzoyl Peroxide concentration of between 2.5% and 10%. While the lowest concentration poses the lowest risk of side effects, many dermatologists believe that a higher percentage is necessary for sufficient results, especially in cases where there are particularly stubborn acne breakouts.
Many people have seen their faces clear up and maintain clarity with the help of Benzoyl Peroxide but there are also many people who experience sensitivity including redness, stinging, inflammation and peeling. While some people will develop a tolerance in due time, others will find that their skin is just too sensitive to use Benzoyl Peroxide and will need to seek out more gentle and less irritating alternatives.
To avoid irritation, it is always recommended to use the lowest percentage available of Benzoyl Peroxide to start and begin by using only a small amount every other day. As tolerance builds, you can work up to twice a day as needed with higher concentrations. While many people may be tempted to combine different products that contain Benzoyl Peroxide, it is important to begin conservatively and allow the skin to acclimate. Using other over the counter topical acne treatments such as salicylic acid in combination will also increase the risk of irritation and dryness. Combining different products containing Benzoyl Peroxide can also increase the chances of developing dry and irritated skin.
Because Benzoyl Peroxide can cause sun sensitivity, be sure to avoid direct sun exposure whenever possible and use a broad spectrum sunscreen every day, even during the winter months. The sun can also exacerbate acne prone skin and cause long term damage so it is always advisable to wear protection on a daily basis.
Use an oil free moisturizer after every cleanse in order to keep your skin hydrated. Moisturizers containing oils should be avoided as these can clog the pores and contribute to additional breakouts. There are oil-free moisturizers that are developed specifically for oily and acne prone skin. These products keep the skin hydrated without causing additional pimples.
Before using Benzoyl Peroxide, understand that like any form of peroxide, bleaching of the hair and fabrics can occur. Keep any creams, gels and lotions out of direct contact with the hair and clothing. Even after cleansing, small amounts can remain on the skin and this can cause discoloration of linens and towels.
Not all acne will respond to Benzoyl Peroxide and in cases where over the counter acne treatment products fail, it may be necessary to seek a prescription from a dermatologist. Even with all of its success stories, Benzoyl Peroxide has its limits.