Using Benzoyl Peroxide to Treat Acne
Benzoyl peroxide is worth its weight in gold when it comes to treating mild to moderate acne and future acne breakouts. Aside from being one of the most effective acne medications available, it is also one of the most affordable and accessible treatments, being available in over-the-counter drugstores. Benzoyl peroxide comes in different forms, the most common of which is in gel form. It can also be found as a cream, foam, soap, scrub, mask, lotion and medicated pad. Popular benzoyl peroxide brands are ClearAsil, PanOxyl, Oxy, Neutrogena and Clean & Clear, but the generic benzoyl peroxide is known to be just as effective.
Acne is caused by a kind of bacteria known as Propionibacteria acnes, or P. acnes, which cannot thrive in an oxygen-rich environment. The power of benzoyl peroxide to treat acne lies in its ability to introduce oxygen to the P. acnes, thus killing off the bacteria and significantly reducing their population as well as the acne breakouts. It also has peeling power by drying the skin and sloughing off the dead skin cells that can get trapped inside the hair follicles in the skin, which can aggravate the condition by forming comedones, or dark lesions of oil and dead skin cells wedged in a follicle. These are more commonly known as blackheads.
Benzoyl peroxide is a long-term treatment. Those who start using it for reducing acne are expected to use benzoyl peroxide even after their breakouts have cleared to minimize the risk of having the P. acnes come back and cause more acne in the future.
Benzoyl peroxide comes in different strengths, starting at 2.5% and goes up to 5% and 10%. Initial applications may cause some redness or irritation, so introduce your skin to the milder 2.5% strength benzoyl peroxide to allow it to get used to the treatment. Many people find the 2.5% effective enough in minimizing breakouts and preventing them from coming back. Applications should be consistently done twice a day, once in the morning and another one at night before going to sleep. After a few weeks without results, you can move to higher strength applications.
Start by cleansing your face with a mild cleanser or soap. Wash gently for only a few seconds, being careful to lather up thoroughly so that your hands glide across your skin instead of rubbing it. Washing removes the surface oils and prepares your skin for the application of the treatment. Pat your skin with a soft towel and let it dry for five minutes after cleansing. Next, apply a small amount of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide on your face, skipping over the area under the eyes and places near the hairline, and allow your skin to absorb the medication.
Tips for Making the Most Out of Benzoyl Peroxide
A common side effect of using benzoyl peroxide for acne is dryness or flaking of the skin. It is only normal because the medication works by peeling of the upper layers of the skin. However, it is an unpleasant sight and dry skin, even skin that is acne-free, is not healthy. To combat the drying effects of benzoyl peroxide, always use a non-comedogenic moisturizer after each application of the medication. Once the benzoyl peroxide has been fully absorbed, pat a liberal amount of moisturizer, preferably one that has jojoba oil as an ingredient, and spread over the areas that received the treatment. Moisturizing is a very crucial step in the treatment of acne. Even those with oily skin should not skip this step because proper moisturizing does not only counter the dryness and flakiness, it also regulates oil production and so helps minimize breakouts as well.
The use of benzoyl peroxide also increases the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, making you more prone to sunburn and sun damage if you do not treat your skin properly. If you are going out in the sun anytime between 10 AM and 3 PM, make sure to apply sunscreen, especially over the medicated areas. However, sunscreen can also be drying so mix in a few drops of jojoba oil or look for a moisturizer with SPF15 in it. Also, it is best to avoid the tanning salon while on medication, along with other irritants, such as oily hair products, hats, helmets with chin straps and picking at your skin.
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