How to Use Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne

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Benzoyl peroxide comes in cleansing pads.
Benzoyl peroxide comes in cleansing pads. (Image: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

Benzoyl peroxide is one of several drugs that can treat acne. It comes in creams and cleansers that reduce the amount of acne-causing bacteria on your skin, according to WebMD. Some are available over-the-counter while others are available only by prescription. Monitor your skin's reaction to the drug; skin irritation is a side effect and may mean you need to use it less often or stop completely.

Things You'll Need

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Gentle facial cleanser
  • Moisturizing gel

If you're using a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide, wet your face, then apply the cleanser. Rub your face in circular motions for 10 to 20 seconds to let the medication work. Rinse your face, then moisturize with an oil-free lotion.

If you're using benzoyl peroxide cream, wash your face with a gentle cleanser that does not contain the medication. Pat your face dry.

Apply a thin layer of benzoyl peroxide gel or cream to the trouble spots.

Apply an oil-free moisturizer.

Monitor your skin's reaction. If it becomes dry or flaky, reduce your use of products containing benzoyl peroxide. For example, if you were using a cleanser every day, cut back to every other day and use a gentle cleanser in between.

Tips & Warnings

  • Benzoyl peroxide for acne is available in 3 strengths: 2.5%, 5% and 10%. Many find that 10% is too harsh, so it's best to begin with 2.5 or 5% benzoyl peroxide.
  • Benzoyl peroxide will bleach fabrics so cover your pillowcase with an old towel to prevent bleach spots.
  • If dryness or peeling occurs, reduce usage.

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