Understanding Benzoyl Peroxide.
In the medical world treatments’ are often told to you in their chemical format. “We’re going to treat your acne with Benzoyl Peroxide!” and you’re thinking “That’s great, but what does that mean for me?” We’re going to take a look at Benzoyl and try and help you understand it before you go putting on your skin!
Benzoyl Peroxide is an organic compound consisting of two benzoyl groups that have been bridged by a peroxide link. The scientific formula for Benzoyl is [C6H5C(O)]2O2.
Benzoyl Peroxide has a number of commercial applications including that of acne treatement1. Due to the harsh chemical nature of Benzoyl Peroxide (as can be seen in its international chemical report card) Benzoyl Peroxide is most frequently commercially available in concentrations of 2.5%. While there are a number of higher dose concentrations (including 5% and 10%) research has shown that the effectiveness of higher concentrations of Benzoyl is not positively relational to the harsh effects]2.
How does it work?
Propionibacteria acnes3 are the bacteria that cause acne breakouts and they are incapable of living in oxygen rich environments. Benzoyl works by introducing additional oxygen to the skins environment thus killing off the Propionibacteria.
Cautions and Risks Associated with Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl Peroxide does have some minor side effects. In a study by Health Canada it was found that Benzoyl Peroxide slows the skins healing process and makes it temporarily more susceptible to damage from the sun4. People using Benzoyl Peroxide should take precautions when spending extended periods out in the sun and should consult a doctor if blemishes fail to properly heal after 2 – 3 weeks.
Am I allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide?
While many website of Benzoyl free products claim that it is possible to be allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide this is in fact an extremely rare condition. According to a detailed report by the Human Pathology department at the University of Messina (paper: here). “Benzoyl Peroxide is known to be a weak allergen but a strong irritant”5. What this means is that while many people exhibit mild allergic symptoms such as dry and itchy skin this is actually just a common side effect of Benzoyl Peroxide6. In fact, in no medical publication in the US National Library of Medicine at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ had data finding that anyone was allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide except in cases where it was used in bone cement. While this does not mean it is impossible to be allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide it certainly indicates that it is highly unlikely.