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Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide

In most cases, using benzoyl peroxide (the active ingredient in Proactiv and other anti-acne products) to treat rosacea isn't going to help, and in fact we have seen it do a lot of damage.

Benzoyl peroxide is an anti-bacterial agent effective against acne bacteria (propionibacterium) which works by releasing peroxide, a free radical, which oxidizes the acne bacteria.

Because rosacea isn't caused by acne bacteria the use of benzoyl peroxide seems unwarranted. Moreover, benzoyl peroxide increases the skin's burden of oxidative stress, promoting inflammation and premature aging.

Although some patients report some benefit from benzoyl peroxide, as with Proactiv users, the benefit quickly gives way to counterproductive side effects, the most common of which are stinging, inflammation, burning, tingling, dehydration and a sallow grey-red skin tone.

Ostensibly, benzoyl peroxide has come to be regarded as effective because published trials of its use have not stretched beyond 8 weeks, an inadequate timeframe for a life-long skin condition.

While it is true that very short-term use of benzoyl peroxide may assist with resolving some papules and pustules, there are superior alternatives.

In addition, no studies have shown that papules and pustules always clear more rapidly with benzoyl peroxide than without.

Rosacea patients frequently have impaired skin barrier function which likely furthers the penetration of benzoyl peroxide leading to the vasodilation which appears to encourage worsening rosacea symptoms.

Image: Jan Marini Benzoyl Peroxide 10%.

Author: Peter Wilson.

Reviewed: Tuesday, 16 August 2011.


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