If you have acne, you probably know that the best way for most people to treat acne is with a regular cleaning routine involving a mild cleanser and gentle pat dry. Sometimes, though, you'll get a breakout despite your acne prevention routine; and when that happens, benzoyl peroxide spot treatment may help you clear up acne fast.
Benzoyl peroxide is an acne-treating drug that appears in more than 200 different formulations, according to Florida State University. Regardless of the many product names, you'll find benzoyl peroxide on the ingredients list if a particular product contains it.
Benzoyl peroxide is applied directly to blemishes to help clear them up more quickly. Follow your usual skin care routine; after your face is clean and dry, use your fingertip to dab a little benzoyl peroxide cream or lotion onto a pimple or blemish. Limit application to the immediate area of the blemish, since it can have a drying effect on skin.
When you apply benzoyl peroxide to a blemish, you reduce the oil production that can cause breakouts in that area. Benzoyl peroxide is absorbed by the skin and turned into benzoate acid, which helps neutralize oil production. This effectively dries out the blemish so it shrinks and becomes less noticeable. Benzoyl peroxide moves through the system and out of the body through the urine.
The most common side effect of benzoyl peroxide is skin irritation, most frequently including redness and itching. In some cases, benzoyl peroxide can cause burning, blistering and crusting. If you experience unusual irritation, contact a doctor or dermatologist for advice.
It would seem logical to think the greater the concentration of benzoyl peroxide is in a particular product, the more effective the product is likely to be. In fact, however, a study published in 1986 in the "International Journal of Dermatology" showed that a 2.5 percent concentration of benzoyl peroxide was as effective as a 5 or 10 percent concentration. A 2.5 percent concentration also caused fewer side effects, according to the study.