If you have browsed the store shelves or talked to a skin specialist who knows about the importance of using quality ingredients to fight acne, you have probably heard of benzoyl peroxide. This is one of the most common ingredients in treating acne and here’s how it works.

What Causes Acne

The surface of your skin contains thousands of tiny openings called pores. These pores are essential because they allow sweat and oil to make its way from glands below the surface of the skin up to the surface. There are two types of pores: sweat and oil. Sweat pores send moisture to the surface of your skin to cool it and keep you from overheating. Oil pores allow oil from the sebaceous glands to get to the surface and moisturize your skin naturally.

Your body also has a natural process to remove things that collect inside your pores—such as dead skin cells or dirt—so they can do their job. If you can’t clear out the pores properly, things like oil, dirt, and dead skin cells collect and lead to bacteria and inflammation (resulting in acne) as your body tries to get rid of them.

How Benzoyl Peroxide Fights Acne

Benzoyl peroxide is an antimicrobial ingredient. What that means is that it works on the surface of your skin to reduce acne-causing bacteria. Rather than trying to fight acne-causing bacteria with antibiotics that you ingest (take through your mouth), benzoyl peroxide works in the specific area where you apply it so it has fewer overall side effects than a prescription you take internally. It also doesn’t lead to antibiotic resistance, which is a serious concern among medical professionals.

Once it goes to work on the bacteria that is causing acne, benzoyl peroxide makes it easier for your body to clear out dead skin cells and other things that clog your pores. It’s available without a prescription in strengths ranging from 2.5% to 10%. The amount you need is based on the cause of your acne, how well your skin can tolerate it, and other factors. Start with a lower dose and increase it over time if you don’t see results.

There are a few potential side effects of benzoyl peroxide, but it is generally well-tolerated by most people. If you notice excessive skin dryness stop using benzoyl peroxide and talk to a skin specialist to find out what other options are available. If you have signs of an allergic reaction, stop using it immediately and contact a doctor. It’s also important to note that benzoyl peroxide can bleach hair, fabric, or clothing, so wash your hands thoroughly after applying it and skip it right before a workout so your sweat doesn’t transfer it to clothing.

Schedule a consultation with a skin specialist to discuss your own acne concerns in more detail, or shop our selection of benzoyl peroxide products today.