Acne is caused by many things, but the main physical mechanism of acne creation is that pores are clogged by oil, bacteria then flourishes in the clogged pore, and that creates swelling and redness. By attacking the root physical causes of acne, Benzoyl Peroxide is one of the most effective, and most used ingredients for treating acne.
What is Benzoyl Peroxide?
Benzoyl Peroxide is one of the most popular active ingredients used to fight acne. It is in almost every acne fighting system available. Many times it is combined with salicylic acid for maximum results. Benzoyl Peroxide can also help clear up minor acne scars, and speed up the removal of marks left on skin healing from pimples.
How does it work?
Benzoyl Peroxide is available in concentrations from 2.5% to 10%, the highest percentage obviously being the strongest. It works as a peeling agent, this means that it dries out skin on the top layer, accelerating production and replacement of skin cells. This helps get rid of dead skin cells that are clogging pores, and replaces them with healthy skin that is less prone to being clogged, and therefore prone to acne.
By increasing skin cell replacement, Benzoyl Peroxide is effective at keeping acne breakouts from returning. If skin cells stay fresh and healthy, pores have less chance to become clogged and infected. Another reason that Benzoyl Peroxide is so effective as an acne fighting ingredient is that it is also a antimicrobial; antimicrobials kill and reduce concentrations of bacteria. This means that while Benzoyl Peroxide is helping to produce new skin cells, it is also keeping them clear of bacteria, another of the major causes of acne.
What are side effects? And how can I avoid them?
One of the main side effects of using a product with Benzoyl Peroxide in it is drying of the skin. Because, as mentioned above, Benzoyl Peroxide is a peeling agent, this is a natural reaction that skin has to application of skin treatments with Benzoyl Peroxide. Dead skin cells are being replaced with new ones, and this can contribute to feelings of dryness and tightness in the skin. Skin acclimates to Benzoyl Peroxide within about a week, and most feeling of dryness goes away during that time. There are several ways to lessen the discomfort caused by skin’s reaction to Benzoyl Peroxide. One way is to start with a product that has a lower concentration of Benzoyl Peroxide ; many doctors and dermatologists recommend starting with a 2.5% concentration, and then working up to higher concentrations as skin becomes accustomed to the treatment. Additionally, starting off using a product with Benzoyl Peroxide in it once a day, rather than twice, and working up to more frequent use, can also help skin feel less dry. Finally, using an oil free lotion can help skin feel more comfortable as it adjusts to Benzoyl Peroxide.
Be aware, that in some cases, people with sensitive or dry skin can have severe negative reactions to Benzoyl Peroxide. If skin is extremely sore, or a rash occurs, discontinue use of the product. While some discomfort and peeling is normal, pain is not, and this means either that the concentration of Benzoyl Peroxide in the product is to high, or skin is too delicate to handle Benzoyl Peroxide at all. This is not common, but can occur, and it is important that people who are having severe reactions stop using products that cause them; using products that irritate the skin can make acne worse.
Should I look for a product with Benzoyl Peroxide in it?
Absolutely. Keep in mind, there is initial discomfort for most people who use a product with Benzoyl Peroxide in it, but it goes away after a week, and results are usually excellent. There is a reason that Benzoyl Peroxide is so popular, and it is because it is effective. For people with less severe acne, or sensitive or dry skin, starting out with a concentration of 2.5% is recommended to lessen reaction and discomfort. For people with extreme cases of acne, or very oily skin, 5% may be a good starting place. Finally, keep in mind, most acne products take 2 to 3 weeks to truly show results, so do not be discouraged if results are not immediate. Benzoyl Peroxide has an excellent track record, and chances are, it will help you get rid of your acne.