Most clinicians or skin specialists may suggest using cleansers with antibacterial properties or topical acne creams to treat mild to moderate acne. One of the main ingredient in such topical cleansers or creams prescribed is benzoyl peroxide.
What is benzoyl peroxide?
Benzoyl peroxide, also known as benzoperoxide, dibenzoyl peroxide (DBPO), is a white powder used in Over-the-Counter (OTC) drug products for the acne treatment, blemishes, blackheads, and whiteheads. It is also used as a chemical initiator in artificial nail systems.
Why is benzoyl peroxide used?
According to Dr. Kimberly Jerdan, a dermatologist from California, she stated that benzoyl peroxide is an organic peroxide that acts as a non-specific oxidising agent to treat acne by releasing oxygen on the skin to destroy bacteria on the skin. It works by peeling away the skin to get rid of the dead skin cells, excess oil, and bacteria that is trapped underneath the skin.
Benzoyl peroxide is formulated in facial cleansers, scrubs, masks, acne treatment, and leave-on acne creams. It comes with concentration that varies from 2.5%, 5% and 10%. However, Dr. Jerdan advised most consumers to go between 3% to 5% concentration instead. This is due to the fact that greater dosage of benzoyl peroxide has a higher risk of irritation and drying for the skin.
As a chemical initiator, what it does is that, it energises monomer together when liquid and powder are mixed together when artificial nails are applied to fingernails. In other words, when you do manicure and pedicure that need fake nails to be attached to your fingernails, it helps to glue the fake nails better to your fingernails.
So, is benzoyl peroxide good or bad?
Benzoyl peroxide is generally safe for external usage when used in low dosage. For some new users or those on early treatment to combat acne, however, they may experience peeling and flaking, which are the common symptoms. Since benzoyl peroxide has an exfoliating function, the peeling and flaking is the common skin reactions from using benzoyl peroxide.
For some users who have super sensitive or easily irritated skin, they might experience adverse reaction. The applied areas may be irritated, itchy or highly inflamed. The adverse reaction or allergies to benzoyl peroxide drug is rare. However, if symptoms like rashes, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, and trouble in breathing occur, please cease usage immediately on products that contain benzoyl peroxide and seek medical help right away. Everyone skin is different from each other. What might be safe for others, might not be so for some. Patch test is always encourage on a small area on the neck or inner arm, as a safe guard that your skin is okay with benzoyl peroxide.
As for artificial nails, some people might experience extreme dryness to their fingernails causing it to be brittle and easily cracked. The serious symptom might include nail infection, which is rare.
The European Scientific Committee on Consumer Products has reviewed the safety of benzoyl peroxide and concluded that it is safe to be used for the indicated purposes for topical acne treatment and artificial nail systems, under the restrictions of specified maximum concentration only.
In Canada, it is permitted at a concentration equal to or less than 10% for the use only as a catalyst in products to be applied to fingernails or in hair dyes.
For pregnant women, it is advisable to avoid the use of benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy as studies has shown high dosage might lead to developmental and reproductive toxicity of foetus.
Despite research and studies categorising benzoyl peroxide as fairly safe to be used for human, is benzoyl peroxide suitable for all?
As we mentioned, everyone’s skin condition is different. What might work best for one person might not be a so for others. If you have a very sensitive skin or your skin is highly allergic, you might want to find other solutions or alternatives to replace benzoyl peroxide in treating your acne problem.
Do consider products with natural ingredients to treat your acne concern!
i. Tea Tree essential oil –Contains natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to fight bacteria causing acne, pimples or blemishes
ii. Aloe Vera – Helps to reduce the appearance of acne and prevent breakouts
iii. Honey – Aids to clear dirt from clogged pores and is high in antioxidants to heal acne
iv. Garlic – Used traditionally to treat infections and boost immunity against germs and infections
v. Green Tea – Helps to reduce sebum production that can lead to acne and fight acne-causing bacteria