When we think of acne, the main medication that comes to mind is benzoyl peroxide. Hailed as the top first line treatment to fighting acne, benzoyl peroxide is the most popular medication used. Every dermatologist recommends it as a first line treatment. Here are both the pros and cons of benzoyl peroxide as a treatment.
It Works Fast
Benzoyl peroxide is very effective at what it does. Not only does it exfoliate pores well, it also kills the bacteria that causes acne. It is used to treat all kinds of acne and it works very quickly at what it does.
It Has Both Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Bacterial Properties
Benzoyl peroxide has a dual purpose. It works both as an anti-bacterial as well as an anti-inflammatory. This means that not only does it kill P. acne, the bacteria that causes acne, but it also reduces inflammation. Those red painful pimples? That’s what inflammation looks like, and benzoyl peroxide targets it. The anti-bacterial properties also makes sure to prevent future acne as well.
It’s Affordable and Easy to Get
Benzoyl peroxide is incredibly easy to acquire. Low concentration products can be purchased over the counter and are very affordable. If you need a higher concentration, however, you’ll have to visit the dermatologist. However, most people can find many products containing benzoyl peroxide at their local drug store.
It Makes Skin More Sensitive
Because benzoyl peroxide can shed layers of skin, it can make your skin very sensitive to sunlight. This can result in sun damage and sunburns. Anybody who uses benzoyl peroxide should be careful of going outside especially when it is very sunny.
It Can Dry Out and Irritate Skin
For those who have sensitive skin, benzoyl peroxide can dry out and irritate your skin. This can lead to red, flaky, inflamed, and dry skin. This is especially common at higher potencies like 5 or 10%. Always start with the lowest dosage (2.5%) and work your way up.
It Can Bleach Fabric
Benzoyl peroxide can act as a strong bleaching agent and can strip the color off fabrics. One should always be careful using benzoyl peroxide around things like towels or linens.
While rare, allergic reactions to benzoyl peroxide can occur. If any areas have redness or irritation, the product should be stopped immediately. If anything more severe occurs like severe swelling or breathing difficulties, you should go to an emergency room immediately.
It Doesn’t Address The Root Cause
As I talked about in my article What is Acne and How Does It Relate To The Body Environment, the problem with many medications is that they do not address the root cause of the problem. By killing off P. acnes, you actually destroy a bacteria that is very important to maintaining homeostasis in our body. Medications do not fix the main cause of acne: the body environment. Sorting out the oversecretion of oil by addressing various factors such as diet, stress, and the environment (to name a few) is key to achieving long term success.
Overall, benzoyl peroxide can definitely be a useful product to use in fighting acne. For me personally, I did not really see a huge benefit when using it. Unfortunately, it did cause drying out of the skin and irritation when I used it. The decision to use it is up to you, but it is good to know both the pros and cons of benzoyl peroxide to see if it is the right product for you.