Benzoyl Peroxide

Topical Antibacterial

Benzoyl peroxide is available as a prescription and non-prescription topical treatment. It is usually applied once or twice a day.

  • Available forms:

    • Topical treatment: 

      • Bar:
        Available as non-prescription (over-the-counter) and prescription under multiple brand names
        Generic available
      • Soap / Wash:
        Available as non-prescription (over-the-counter) and prescription under multiple brand names
        Generic available
      • Lotion: 
        Available as non-prescription (over-the-counter) and prescription under multiple brand names
        Generic available
      • Solution: 
        Available as non-prescription (over-the-counter) and prescription under multiple brand names
        Generic available
      • Cream: 
        Available as non-prescription (over-the-counter) and prescription under multiple brand names
        Generic available
      • Gel / Jelly: 
        Available as non-prescription (over-the-counter) and prescription under multiple brand names
        Generic available
      • Liquid: 
        Available as non-prescription (over-the-counter) and prescription under multiple brand names
        Generic available
      • Pad: 
        Available as non-prescription (over-the-counter) and prescription under multiple brand names
        Generic available
      • Foam:
        Available as non-prescription (over-the-counter) and prescription under multiple brand names
        Generic available
  • Some of the brand names benzoyl peroxide is available under (US):

    • Acne.org®
    • Acne-Clear®
    • Acnigel®
    • Ben-Aqua®
    • Benzac®
    • Benzagel®
    • Benzashave®
    • BenzEFoam®
    • Benziq®
    • Binora®
    • Brevoxyl®
    • Clear By Design®
    • Clearasil®
    • Clearplex®
    • Clearskin®
    • Clinac BPO®
    • Del-Aqua®
    • Desquam®
    • Ethexderm BPW®
    • Fostex®
    • Inova®
    • Lavoclen®
    • Loroxide®
    • NeoBenz®
    • Neutrogena®
    • Oscion®
    • Oxy 10®
    • Pacnex®
    • PanOxyl®
    • Peroderm®
    • Peroxin A®
    • Persa-Gel®
    • Seba-Gel®
    • Soluclenz®
    • Theroxide®
    • Triaz®
    • Vanoxide®
    • Zaclir®
    • Zeroxin®
    • ZoDerm®

      (There may be other brand names for this product)
  • Prescription combination products of benzoyl peroxide are also available, such as:

    • Benzoyl peroxide + clindamycin 
    • Benzoyl peroxide + hydrocortisone 
    • Benzoyl peroxide + erythromycin 
    • Benzoyl peroxide + adapalene 
    • Benzoyl peroxide + sulfur 
    • Benzoyl peroxide + salicylic acid
  • Available in these doses:

All forms of benzoyl peroxide, whether prescription or non-prescription, are available in doses of 2.5% to 10%.

  • Who is it for? 

    • Gender:
      • Males and females
    • Severity of acne:
      • Mild-to-moderate
    • Age:
      • Children 12 years and older, adolescents and adults

How to use it:

Benzoyl peroxide is topically applied once or twice a day to all acne-affected areas of the skin, and not just on individual pimples themselves.

When you start using benzoyl peroxide, first apply a small amount to one or two small test areas that you want to treat once a day, for 3 days, to see if there is discomfort or abnormal reaction to the medication. If you do not experience such a reaction, start using benzoyl peroxide as prescribed. 

Do not get benzoyl peroxide in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If it does get into your eyes, wash your eyes with a generous amount of water and seek medical attention if there is any irritation. Do not use benzoyl peroxide on sunburned or windburned skin, or on open wounds.

Avoid the use of any products that may irritate your skin such as abrasive soaps, skin peeling products, irritating hair products, alcohol-containing skin products, cosmetics or soaps that dry the skin, medicated cosmetics), or sunlamps while using benzoyl peroxide. Using benzoyl peroxide simultaneously with these products may cause skin irritation. 

Do not use other topical treatments on an area of skin for 1 hour before or after it has been treated with benzoyl peroxide, as this may reduce the efficacy of benzoyl peroxide.

Benzoyl peroxide may bleach clothes or hair.

During the first 3 weeks of using benzoyl peroxide, you may experience skin dryness or irritation. Ask your physician for the right skin products to reduce skin dryness or irritation. Improvement of acne is often seen quickly, but can sometimes take 4 to 6 weeks of treatment to become apparent. Rarely, acne may get worse before it gets better at the start of treatment. If your symptoms do not improve or get worse, contact your physician.

Benzoyl peroxide should not be used by children less than 12 years old, unless your physician instructs otherwise. Use and dosing in children less than 12 years old must be determined by the treating physician. 

Use benzoyl peroxide exactly as prescribed by your physician. The prescribed dose of benzoyl peroxide may vary between patients. Similarly, the quantity of benzoyl peroxide per application, the number of applications per day, the time between doses, and the duration of treatment will depend on the severity of your acne. Do not change the amount of medication or the frequency of your applications without consulting your physician first, as a sudden increase in dosing may cause skin irritation. If you have any questions about the medication or the prescription, ask your physician or pharmacist. 

  • Bar / Soap / Liquid wash / Cleansing lotion:
    • The benzoyl peroxide bar is used to wash the acne-affected areas, 2 or 3 times a day as prescribed by your physician.   
  • Lotion / Cream / Gel:
    • Before using the lotion, cream or gel, wash acne-prone areas with water and a mild cleanser or non-medicated soap. Do not scrub the skin. Rinse and pat the skin dry gently with a soft towel. Then apply enough benzoyl peroxide to cover the acne-prone areas, 1 or 2 times a day as prescribed by your physician. Shake the lotion before use.
  • Medicated pad:
    • Cleanse your skin with water. Wet the benzoyl peroxide pad and wipe the acne-affected areas with the pad for 10 to 20 seconds. Rinse thoroughly and pat the skin dry gently with a soft towel.
  • Foam:
    • Look for the manufacturer’s instructions on priming the can before first use. Before each use, shake the can and tap the bottom 3 or 4 times. Dispense the foam in the palm of your hand or applicator pad and apply it over the acne-affected areas. Wait until the foam is completed absorbed into the skin. Some products can stay on the skin while others need to be rinsed off so check the manufacturer’s instructions on the label before use. 

After applying benzoyl peroxide, wash your hands to remove the medicine left on your hands. Do not wash the treated skin for at least 1 hour after application.

Be aware of: 

  • Before using benzoyl peroxide, let your physician or pharmacist know if you are allergic to benzoyl peroxide or any of the other ingredients in the treatment. 
  • Before using benzoyl peroxide, inform your physician about any prescription and/or non-prescription medications you are currently using.
  • Before using benzoyl peroxide, inform your physician if you currently suffer from, or have ever suffered from, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, or red/raw skin. In these cases, the use of benzoyl peroxide may be associated with increased cause skin irritation. Your physician may advise you not to use benzoyl peroxide.
  • If you are using benzoyl peroxide and are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, talk to your physician about using benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy.
  • If you are using benzoyl peroxide and are breastfeeding, talk to your physician about using benzoyl peroxide during this period.
  • Do not share your medication with anyone else. 
  • Keep your regular appointments with your physician to track your response to benzoyl peroxide.

Drug interactions: 

Do not use alcohol-containing or abrasive skin care products, or peel off products (including facial masks) while using benzoyl peroxide. Inform your physician or pharmacist about all the prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking, or plan to take, before starting benzoyl peroxide. Also inform your physician or pharmacist of the skin products you use including soaps, cleansers, moisturizers, and cosmetics.

Your physician may ask you to use other topical medications while you are using benzoyl peroxide, such as tretinoin. Applying the medications at different times of the day can help reduce the chance of skin irritation. 

Do not swallow

If benzoyl peroxide is swallowed, contact an emergency facility or call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 1 (800) 222-1222 (available 24/7).

If immediate assistance is necessary because the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, call 911.

Information can also be found online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • Intense burning sensation over the treated area
  • Persistent itching
  • Scaling of the treated skin
  • Severe redness over the treated area
  • Swelling over the treated area

What if I miss a dose?

As soon as you recall that you have missed a dose, apply the missed dose. However, skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose and continue with your prescribed dosing schedule. Do not increase the quantity or frequency of application to make up for the missed dose. 

Storage:

Store your medication in the container that the pharmacist provided and keep it out of reach and out of sight of children. Many containers can be opened by children. Keep the container tightly closed. Always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location that is up and away from the sight of young children, to prevent poisoning (www.upandaway.org).

Store the medication at room temperature. Keep the medication away from excessive heat and moisture – do not store in the bathroom. Do not freeze benzoyl peroxide.

Disposal:

Do not keep outdated medication and medication that you no longer use. Unneeded medications should be disposed of in a way that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. Do not flush the medication down the toilet. Contact your pharmacist to learn about the availability of a medicine take-back program in your neighborhood, or get in touch with your local garbage/recycling department to ensure safe disposal. If you do not have access to a take-back program, you can find more information on safe disposal of medication on the FDA website: (https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/EnsuringSafeUseofMedicine/SafeDisposalofMedicines/ucm186187.htm

References
  1. Medlineplus.gov. (2018). Benzoyl Peroxide Topical: MedlinePlus Drug Information. [online] Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601026.html [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].
  2. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. (2018). Benzoyl Peroxide. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0045686/. [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].
  3. Toxnet.nlm.nih.gov. (2018). Benzoyl Peroxide. [online] https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search2/f?./temp/~GPHCSb:6. Available at: https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search2/f?./temp/~WQ6ZGF:1. [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].
  4. Uptodate.com. (2018). Benzoyl Peroxide. [online] Available at: https://www-uptodate-com.eresources.mssm.edu/contents/benzoyl-peroxide-drug-information?search=benzoyl%20peroxide&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~87&usage_type=default&display_rank=1. [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].
  5. Epocrates.com. (2018). Benzoyl Peroxide. [online] Available at: https://online.epocrates.com/drugs/2/benzoyl-peroxide-topical. [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].