Benzoyl Peroxide For Acne: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

benzoyl-peroxideBP has long been touted as the golden ingredient for fighting acne. In fact, there isn’t a single dermatologist I’ve met who doesn’t agree.

Why then would anyone question the regular use of this ingredient, now available over the counter and in prescription strength?

Maybe it’s because Benzoyl Peroxide doesn’t work all the time or for every skin. Maybe it’s the side effects, ranging from dryness to severe irritation. Maybe it’s because it has been shown to increase free radical production and decrease moisture levels – two factors responsible for premature aging.

First, exactly what is Benzoyl Peroxide?

BP is a synthesized (man-made) ingredient formed when benzoyl chloride is combined with hydrogen peroxide. It is broken apart once it enters the skin, and provides oxygen to kill bacteria trapped in the pores and follicles, as well as provide benzoic acid to exfoliate to minimize build up and congestion. Sounds great, right?

Here are a couple sites that promote the use of BP for acne, and provide a bit more information on how it can work in the best case scenario:

About.com: Benzoyl Peroxide

The Acne.org Regimen

WebMD: How to use Benzoyl Peroxide Top

Benzoyl Peroxide can also be detrimental to your skin. For example, if you are not a teenager – you are probably concerned with keeping skin youthful AND clear. BP dries the skin and increases levels of inflammation and free radical production, which, in turn, lead to premature aging. BP can also make the skin more prone to hyper pigmenting from sun overexposure – especially if the sunscreen you use contains PABA ( Para-amino-benzoic acid,) which is known to damage DNA. Do you see something familiar? Benzoic acid? BP has also been moved by the FDA from the “safe” Category 1 to a more uncertain Category 3. Hmmmm.

Here are a couple sites providing more informaion on the negative side effects and possible dangers from regular, long-term use of BP. (FYI: BP is generally always recommended for long term, regular use as it is used to “prevent” breakouts by keeping skin completely stripped.)

Benzoyl Peroxide Skin Damage

High on Health: Do Not Use Benzoyl to Treat Your Acne

The bottom line: Acne is a systemic imbalance that manifests itself in the skin. It cannot be “fixed” by stripping the skin of all oil and killing the bacteria in the pores and follicles. Those steps will help temporarily, but if the source of the imbalance is not being addresses, the body will find another way of communicating (whether that be the flu, digestive troubles, eczema or dermatitis, or something else.)

Western medical philosophy tends to place acneic skin in a certain category based on topical symptoms, then introduce a specific medication to stop those symptoms – never truly looking deeper at what could be causing the skin to weaken, overproduce oil, harvest the growth of bacteria, slow cellular turnover or become inflammed.

BP can work, and has helped many people battle their acne – but the cost of this help is still unknown. The side effects could very well be creating other (possibly bigger) problems in the skin and leading to an “out of sight out of mind” mentality which can be detrimental to overall health and well-being.

Treating acneic skin should always involve two steps:

1.Topical, non-invasive treatments like gentle peels, deep cleansing facials, stem cell and LED Therapy or possible gentle laser therapy. These treatments are designed to calm symptoms for short term relief AND increase balance and health in the skin to help long-term.

2. Nutritional counseling, acupuncture, homeopathy or other therapies that look internally to fix the imbalance. When the body and skin are balanced and healthy, the breakouts, scars, inflammation and redness will go away!

We sometimes do want a quick fix, but trust me – a quick fix for acne is not always worth it in the end. A little more work, patience and self discipline will not only aid in clearing the skin – it may also help you prevent illness, lose weight, gain more energy and keep lines and wrinkles to a minimum.

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3 replies
  1. Mike Hampton
    Mike Hampton says:

    This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. It?s the old what goes around comes around routine. Did you acquired lots of links and I see lots of trackbacks??

  2. Delmer Muscaro
    Delmer Muscaro says:

    I can remember as a youth my aunt usually said my pals had acne since they didn’t take enough vitamins. Was she right? I am not certain, but I do know my brother and I never got acne, so perhaps it was the vitamins after all.

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