Benzoyl Peroxide

1 What is benzoyl peroxide?

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Generic: Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a topical drug used for the treatment of acne and other skin conditions like bed sores and certain types of ulcers.

It is a non-prescription drug which can be easily obtained over the counter. It is available in the form of bar, soap, lotion, solution, cream, gel, jelly, liquid, pad and foam.

2 What to know before using

Patient is the authoritative figure when it comes to any medical procedure or any drug therapy. It is important for the patient to know all the details about the Benzoyl peroxide before using it for treatment of acne.

Doctor also has a duty to bring out answers from the patient which play an important role in treatment like history, any allergy or any medical condition the patient has.

For this purpose, it is important to have a detailed session between the patient and the physician before starting this drug to sort out all the details.

  • Detailed history of a patient is extremely important prior to any medical therapy and in this case, it is more likely that a drug be started after it. Allergies or any history of allergy to any drug, food, preservatives, dyes or animal products; history of drug usage, past medical or surgical procedure should also be kept in record to predict any drug interaction.
  • Physical examination should be done before starting this drug so that any physiological or pathological condition with which this drug may interfere may be ruled out.
  • Age specific analysis is vital to have information about side effects of different age groups. There is lack of enough studies in children or old age group to compare its usefulness and harms. There is also deficiency of studies regarding its use in pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Drug interactions are the effects on the therapy or the condition for which the drug is used by other drugs used concomitantly. It is necessary that no drug be started without consulting a physician as another drug may cause alteration in the effect of this drug or its removal from the body.

    Patient should not start any new medication, even over the counter drugs, without consulting the physician to avoid such interactions. The effects of certain foods, alcohol and tobacco on the drug activity should also be asked prior to therapy.

  • Medical conditions, other than the condition for which this drug is used, may also affect working of the drug and cause harm. It is important for the patient to give detailed history, and important for the doctor to derive such details from the patient to avoid such circumstances.

    The conditions which may interact with this drug include seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, red or raw skin and sunburnt skin. The use of benzoyl peroxide in such conditions may lead to irritation and burning sensation.

3 Proper usage

It is better to use Benzoyl peroxide as advised by the doctor for treatment of acne. Being a non-prescription drug, it is easily available and can be applied by anyone.

Wash or clean the area on which the drug has to be applied. Soak a cotton gauze or ball and apply it on the affected skin. Avoid washing this area to make sure that the drug is absorbed properly.

4 Precautions to take

In using Benzoyl peroxide for acne, you must be careful and take some precautions as advised by your doctor. Precautions are the part and parcel of any treatment and patient must adhere to these to improve the outcome. It is the duty of the doctor or any medical care provider to make the patient aware about these tips as an aid to the therapy.

  • Consult your doctor if your condition does not improve in 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Check with your doctor about the usage of this drug if there is an experience of allergy due to any over the counter drugs.
  • Do not apply any other drug on the same area within 1 hour of application.
  • Do not use any irritating cosmetic or hair product like hair colors or hair removal creams.
  • Any other acne medication should not be started.
  • Use water based cosmetics to avoid drying of skin.
  • Avoid alcohol containing agents while being on this therapy.
  • Regular checkups with doctor are important to check the progress. It also allows the patient to ask about any complication which has occurred by this drug.
  • Store it in a dry place at room temperature. Keep it away from the reach of children.

5 Potential side effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Benzoyl peroxide. There is no drug in the world which is without its unwanted effects.

Some drugs are relatively safe for use while for some drugs, the patient should be cautious as these drugs may cause more harm than good. Patient should always get medical help in case of any adverse effect, no matter how trivial it is. Due to its topical application, this drug does not pass through body systems and is safer compared to other drugs.

Some side effects associated with this drug include painful irritation of skin, burning, blistering, crusting, itching, severe redness, swelling, skin rash, difficulty breathing, fainting, hives, itching and tightness in the throat.

There are some symptoms which are associated with overdose like burning, itching, scaling, redness, or swelling of skin.

Get emergency help in case of overdose.

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