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Drugs

Side Effects
Serious

Allergic reaction causing burning, blistering, crusting, itching, severe redness, and swelling of skin. Contact your doctor right away.
Common

Mild dryness and peeling of skin.
Less Common

Excessive dryness, unusual feeling of warmth or heat, mild stinging, redness, irritation. This medicine may cause a rash or intensify sunburn in areas of the skin exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light; avoid excessive sun exposure and tell your doctor if a skin reaction occurs.
Benzoyl Peroxide


Drug Class:
Acne drug

Available OTC?: Yes

Available Generic?: Yes

Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Lotion, cream, gel, pads, cleansing bar, facial mask, stick

Why Prescribed
To treat mild to moderate acne. In more severe cases benzoyl peroxide may be used in conjunction with other acne treatments, such as antibiotics, retinoic acid preparations, and sulfur- or salicylic-acid-containing medications. It may also be used to treat pressure sores and other skin disorders.

How It Works
Benzoyl peroxide slowly releases oxygen, which has an antibacterial effect (bacteria are a primary cause of acne). It also causes peeling and drying of skin, which helps to eliminate blackheads and whiteheads.

Range and Frequency
For the cream, gel, lotion or stick form of benzoyl, first wash the affected area of skin with medicated soap and water. Pat dry gently with a towel; apply enough medicine to cover the affected area and rub in gently once or twice a day. For the shave cream form, wet the area to be shaved, apply a small amount of the cream, rub over the entire area, shave, then rinse the area and pat it dry. Check with your doctor about using aftershave lotions. If you have a fair complexion, start with a single daily application at bedtime. Keep the medicine away from eyes, nose, and mouth.

Onset of Effect
1 to several weeks.

Duration of Action
Up to 24 hours.

Dietary Advice
This medication may be used without regard to diet.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat and direct light.

Missed Dose
If you miss an application, apply it as soon as you remember.

Stopping the Drug
Although benzoyl peroxide can be discontinued when acne improves, stopping usually leads to a recurrence of acne.

Prolonged Use
Check with your doctor if you do not see improvement within 4 to 6 weeks. Other medications may be necessary to control acne and to prevent permanent scarring.

Over 60
No special problems are expected.

Driving and Hazardous Work
No special precautions are necessary.

Alcohol
No special precautions are necessary.

Pregnancy
Problems in pregnancy have not been documented, but the manufacturer recommends that the medicine should not be used by pregnant women unless it is considered essential.

Breast Feeding
Benzoyl peroxide may pass into breast milk. Ask your doctor about its use during breast feeding.

Infants and Children
Studies on this medicine have been done only with teenagers and adults, so there is no specific information about its use with other age groups. Nonetheless, no special side effects or problems are expected in children over 12. No studies have been done in children under 12. Use and dose must be determined by a doctor.

Overdose Symptoms
Over application to the skin may cause burning, itching, scaling, swelling, or redness.

What to Do
Discontinue the drug and consult your doctor. If this drug is accidentally ingested, call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately.

Drug Interactions
Use of this medicine with skin-peeling agents such as salicylic acid, sulfur, tretinoin, or resorcinol can cause excessive skin irritation. Consult your doctor if you take an oral contraceptive, or if you are using any other prescription or nonprescription medication for acne, or if you use medicated cosmetics or abrasive skin cleaners.

Food Interactions
See below.

Disease Interactions
A history of allergy to cinnamon and foods containing benzoic acid increases the chances of developing an allergic skin rash to benzoyl peroxide. Be sure to notify your doctor if you have either of these allergies. Consult your doctor if you have any skin condition other than acne before using benzoyl peroxide.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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