BP is good at two things: killing bacteria and unclogging pores. And guess what two things are the primary causes of acne? That’s right: bacteria and clogged pores. It’s a match made in acne-fighting heaven.
Why would I need benzoyl peroxide?
For the reason above. It works. But another reason a dermatologist would recommend BP is that it can be an important supplement if you’re on antibiotics.
Normally, antibiotic use runs the risk of killing off only the weakest bugs and leaving the stronger ones to multiply, making the antibiotic effectively useless after a little while. When an antibiotic is paired with BP, the bugs never never build up the resistance and the antibiotic is free to keep ridding you of acne!
How do I use benzoyl peroxide?
BP comes in two varieties: washes that you rinse off and leave-on products.
- Washes: Wash your face (or back, chest, arms- wherever the acne is present) as you normally would, but leave the product on your skin for a slightly longer time than you would a normal wash- 20 seconds is best. Rinse sparingly and pat dry. Avoid rubbing. If using it in the shower make sure you use it last- just before getting out.
- Leave-ons: Just like topical retinoids, you only need a pea-size amount for your whole face. And make sure to spread evenly rather than spot-apply to pimples only! Split one small pea-size dollop on your index fingers and dot the medication evenly on your temples, cheeks and chin to make sure you apply evenly, and then rub in. Apply daily; any time of day works.
How soon will it work?
You may see results within a month, but the full effects will take 3 months or more.
What side effects might there be?
- BP can cause dryness, but it goes away after a week or two. Moisturizing after use is usually enough to prevent/treat this problem.
- The most annoying side effect of BP is that it bleaches fabric. If applied to the face, your pillowcase and towels may get bleached, and if applied to your back, chest, or arms, you could ruin your favorite shirt. Do your best to stick with white shirts and pillow cases when using BP so as not to have to go buy a whole new wardrobe (unless that was your plan all along!).