How to Use Benzoyl Peroxide Wash

Young woman bent over bowl, washing face, smiling
Benzoyl peroxide wash is a staple of acne treatment. (Image: Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Benzoyl peroxide wash comes in an array of topical forms including lotions, bars, gels, and creams. Long used as an effective prevention and treatment measure for people with mild to severe acne, benzoyl peroxide kills the P. acnes bacteria that contributes to acne, removes dead skin cells to prevent clogged hair follicles, and breaks down accumulations of oil. While there are general guidelines for proper use of benzoyl peroxide products, you should check with your doctor before beginning a regimen, and you should always carefully follow all package directions.

Step 1

Wash the skin you intend to treat with a mild soap and warm water before using your benzoyl peroxide product. Lather the soap with your fingers, rather than with a washcloth, to avoid irritation. Spend about 10 seconds lathering, then rinse your skin thoroughly.

Step 2

Blot your skin dry with a clean towel. Rubbing the skin dry can be irritating to the skin, just as a washcloth can. As benzoyl peroxide products should only be applied to completely dry skin, allow your skin to air out for five minutes if you washed at the sink. If you've taken a shower, let your skin dry for at least 10 to 15 minutes, suggests Acne.org.

Step 3

Spread your benzoyl peroxide wash gently onto the skin, completely covering all areas you're treating. Dosing varies from patient to patient and from product to product. Follow your doctor's advice and the instructions on the package.

Always rub away from your eyes, mouth and nose, as it's important to avoid getting benzoyl peroxide in these areas. Also be careful not to get benzoyl peroxide on your hair or clothes because it can bleach them.

Step 4

Wash your hands thoroughly to remove all traces of benzoyl peroxide. Most products are left on the treated skin, not rinsed off.

Step 5

Apply a moisturizer to treated areas a few minutes after using your benzoyl peroxide wash, recommends Acne.org. This helps stave off the skin dryness that can accompany use of these products.

Things You'll Need

  • Mild soap

  • Towel

  • Benzoyl peroxide wash

  • Moisturizer

Tip

Most people start with one benzoyl peroxide application a day and work their way up to two or more applications. It generally takes at least a month to six weeks to see improvements, and acne may actually worsen before it gets better.

Washing your face first with soap and water is unnecessary if you're using a liquid or bar benzoyl peroxide cleanser, notes MedlinePlus.

Warning

If you experience a rash, burning, blistering, itching, swelling or redness as a result of using a benzoyl peroxide product, seek medical evaluation right away.

Skin irritation is common in the first three weeks of use with a benzoyl peroxide wash. Dryness, peeling, stinging and a warm or tingling sensation are other possible side effects.

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