Topical Rosacea Treatments
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Poor Medicine: Rosacea Treatment with Benzoyl Peroxide
A selection of skin care products containing benzoyl peroxide — unsuitable for rosacea.
Benzoyl peroxide works by releasing inflammatory free radical oxygen molecules deep within the skin.
The mechanism destroys propionibacterium, the bacteria which in large part causes juvenile acne, and which cannot live in the presence of oxygen.
The free radical oxygen molecules released by benzoyl peroxide are among the most damaging of all the reactive oxygen species and are implicated in premature skin aging (see Oxidative Stress and Free Radical Damage, Melbourne Dermatology) .
Benzoyl peroxide is popular because it is rapidly and permanently effective against juvenile acne bacteria.
This should have nothing to do with rosacea, which although it may appear like acne, lacks actual pathological acne bacteria.
Rosacea is not relieved, otherwise treated or prevented by removing acne-causing bacteria from the skin.
Moreover, benzoyl peroxide is a considerable skin irritant unsuitable for use by those with anything more than moderate skin sensitivity, irrespective of skin condition.
Benzoyl peroxide can cause severe flushing, redness and dryness in almost all individuals.
These symptoms are also those which rosacea patients are supposed to avoid because their occurrence encourages disease progression.
More About Benzoyl Peroxide
The active constituent of benzoyl peroxide is peroxide, just as you would find in bleach, which is why the ingredient has a tendency to redden brown hair and take colour from fabrics.
The benzoyl component is required to force the peroxide to penetrate the skin.
Other forms of peroxide are used in teeth whitening products and hair colourants and include hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide and calcium peroxide.
Benzoyl Peroxide Treatment Conclusions
Benzoyl peroxide is a pro-inflammatory skin irritant.
Improvements in rosacea following its use are short-lived and likely due to skin exfoliation which may be achieved by more beneficial and sustainable means. Rosacea Micro-Exfoliating Cream and RosaTox Soothing Mask Powder provide some skin-calming alternatives.
The ongoing investigation and use of benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of rosacea is significantly deleterious to patients and likely reflects embarrassingly inadequate or dated training on the behalf of dermatologists and other physicians whom fail to distinguish between "acne" and "rosacea."
The disease moniker "acne rosacea" probably assists the perpetuation of such poor rosacea treatments for its suggestion that acne bacteria are involved.
To avoid permanent worsening of your rosacea, do not use benzoyl peroxide.
If you have juvenile or otherwise conventional inflammatory acne, it is worth considering that benzoyl peroxide, while effective, is not your best or only option unless the cost of treatment is your overarching concern, and that its use may age your skin prematurely.
Recovering from Benzoyl Peroxide Treatment1>
More often than not, simply stopping the use of benzoyl peroxide is inadequate for recovery within a reasonable period of time.
Additionally, leaving the skin fragile and poorly defended is likely to encourage skin reactivity such that ordinarily beneficial skincare will also fail.
The first stage of recovery is to strengthen your skin's natural barrier (refer: Healthy Skin Barrier, Melbourne Dermatology).
Lastly and critically, be patient and reasonable.
Avoid changing your skin care during the recovery period — it's been through enough and will thank you if you avoid subjecting it to new treatment challenges every few days.
Slow and steady wins the race to recovery from benzoyl peroxide treatment.
Examples of Skin Care Products containing Benzoyl Peroxide
Examples of benzoyl peroxide products include Proactiv, Obagi Clenziderm, Pan Oxyl, PCA Skin BPO 5% Cleanser, Dermalogica Special Clearing Booster, B. Kamins Medicated Acne Gel, some Clearasil products and Loroxide Acne Lotion.
Products vary in their concentration of benzoyl peroxide, efficacy, individual suitability and tendency to cause irritation.
Author: Peter Wilson.
Reviewed: Saturday, 15 May 2010.