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Benzoyl Peroxide


To kill the bacteria associated with inflamed acne and fight acne inflammation

Side Effects

Itching, redness and skin peeling. See product packaging and/or leaflet for full details


May bleach hair and fabrics. See product packaging and/or leaflet for full details

The information on this website is intended for general educational purposes. You should talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist before you start using any kind of treatment.


What is benzoyl peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide is an acne treatment available over the counter, without having to see a doctor or nurse, as well as being available through a prescription from a healthcare professional.

Benzoyl peroxide can be found in products in 2.5% to 10% concentrations and is often available as washes, creams and gels. However, there is little evidence to suggest that 10% benzoyl peroxide is significantly more effective than 2.5%. When using 10% concentrations there is an increased risk of skin irritation.

If you are not able to find benzoyl peroxide in an over the counter product at your local pharmacy then it may also be available on prescription from your healthcare provider.

How does benzoyl peroxide work?

Benzoyl peroxide works by counteracting the inflammation triggers that are released into the skin by bacteria. It also kills a certain type of bacteria called P. acnes, which is the main bacteria that is associated with acne. In addition, benzoyl peroxide also helps to reduce acne-causing oil production by the sebaceous glands in your skin.

What are some of the side effects of benzoyl peroxide work?

Side effects of benzoyl peroxide include redness, itching and skin peeling. Benzoyl peroxide can also bleach your hair and clothes. Please see your product details for full instructions and warnings.

General guidance on using benzoyl peroxide

As with most acne treatments, benzoyl peroxide takes time to work so allow for 12 weeks of use before determining whether or not the product has worked for you.

Example of an acne treatment regime

Treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide are often used as part of a wider acne treatment regime. These regimes involve using acne treatments and sometimes other products in an organised way with the aim of maximising the treatment’s effectiveness. It is important to remember that not all acne treatments can be used safely together and that you should seek the advice of your pharmacist or healthcare provider before starting or combining any treatments. Click here for an example of an acne treatment regime.

Please note that over-the-counter treatments are unlikely to be effective against severe acne. That is acne that consists of many lesions covering an area, with cysts and nodules being present, and is often scarring. If you have acne that has lasted for several weeks and is getting worse, is leaving scars or is affecting your mental health then you should arrange to visit your GP.