Benzoyl peroxide safety

Basic chemistry, many studies, and decades of use have shown that benzoyl peroxide is safe and effective. However, there are a few things about which you may want to be aware.

  • Allergy: While allergy to benzoyl peroxide is rare, is does sometimes occur. To test for allergy, apply a nickel size amount of benzoyl peroxide to your inner forearm for 2-3 nights. If you experience swelling and/or severe crusting, do not use benzoyl peroxide. If your skin fares well, test on your temple for another 2-3 nights. Again, if you see swelling and/or severe crusting, discontinue use of benzoyl peroxide. If you are unsure or have any doubt, check with your doctor.
  • Less than 1:1000 people experience contact sensitization to benzoyl peroxide over time. Symptoms can be confused as a worsening of the disease but are in fact due to contact sensitization.
  • Benzoyl peroxide has not been studied in pregnant mothers. Consult your physician before using any medication, topical or otherwise, during pregnancy.
  1. Dutil M. "Benzoyl peroxide: Enhancing antibiotic efficacy in acne management." Skin Therapy Letter. 2010; 15(10): 5-7.
  2. Ockenfels H, et. al. "Patch testing with benzoyl peroxide: Reaction profile and interpretation of positive patch test reactions". Contact Dermatitis 2009; 61(4): 209-216.