Symptoms of allergy to benzoyl peroxide


Could you have an allergy to benzoyl peroxide? This can sometimes be difficult to say. Benzoyl peroxide can make your skin dry and red, and itchy, flaky, and flaky even if you are not allergic to it.

Knowing how to differentiate the symptoms of a true benzoyl peroxide allergy from typical side effects will help save your skin and keep your acne treatment on track.

Symptoms of allergy

True allergies to benzoyl peroxide are not as common as you might imagine. Some people think they are allergic to benzoyl peroxide, but in reality they experience normal side effects from benzoyl peroxide treatment.

Benzoyl peroxide causes dryness, redness and peeling to some extent.How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from normal side effects to a true allergic reaction?

Symptoms of a true benzoyl peroxide allergy are:

  • Severe redness, burning or itching of the skin
  • Severe skin irritation, peeling or cracking
  • Scabs, blisters, oozing, or scabs on the skin
  • Swelling of the skin, lips, eyes, or tongue
  • Rash or hives

These symptoms will continue to get worse until you stop using benzoyl peroxide. If you have any of these problems, stop using your benzoyl peroxide treatment immediately and call your doctor for advice.

Normal side effects

Typical side effects of benzoyl peroxide are less severe than an allergy and are generally not of concern.

The normal side effects of benzoyl peroxide are:

  • Dry skin
  • Minor to moderate scaling and scaling
  • Mild to moderate redness, itching, stinging or burning, especially immediately after application

You usually experience the worst side effects during the first few weeks after starting any benzoyl peroxide product or medication. As your skin builds tolerance to the drug, you will notice that the worst redness, peeling, and scaling lessens.

Tips for dealing with normal side effects

If you’re not really allergic to benzoyl peroxide but are just struggling with the side effects, you don’t have to give up treatment altogether. A few adjustments in your routine can help you significantly reduce the side effects of benzoyl peroxide, while still letting the medication do its job.

  • Use a moisturizer daily. Benzoyl peroxide often causes some dryness while using the drug. Applying a daily moisturizer will go a long way in controlling normal side effects (but won’t help at all if you’re allergic to benzoyl peroxide).
  • Start slowly. If this is your first time using benzoyl peroxide, start with a low concentration (2% or less) and use it every other day for a week or two. This will allow your skin to get used to the product.
  • Reduce if you need to. Is the skin very dry and sensitive? You can stop using your benzoyl peroxide medicine for a few days to give your skin a break. When you restart, do it slowly.
Very good / Brianna Gilmartin

Knowing what to expect from your benzoyl peroxide treatment can reassure you and help you determine what is normal and what is not.

Drugs for acne treatment without benzoyl peroxide

If you are really allergic to benzoyl peroxide, you are out of luck in treating your acne. There are many non-benzoyl peroxide acne treatment options to help cleanse your skin, both over the counter and on prescription.

Salicylic acid is a common over-the-counter acne ingredient, just like glycolic acid and sulfur. Differin gel was once a prescription-only medicine, now available over the counter.

If you need a prescription medication to control your acne, you have even more options. Topical retinoids, antibiotics (both topical and oral), and oral medications like Amnestimate (isotretinoin) and birth control pills (for women only) may also be an option for you.

A word from Verywell

Not sure if what you are feeling is a normal side effect or a true allergy to benzoyl peroxide? It is always safer to err on the side of caution: stop using your medications and call your dermatologist.

If it turns out that you are truly allergic to benzoyl peroxide, or if your skin is just very sensitive and cannot handle it, be very careful when choosing and using any acne treatment or skin care product. over the counter skin care. Benzoyl peroxide is an incredibly common ingredient in OTC products.

Also, be sure to let your dermatologist know if your skin cannot tolerate benzoyl peroxide. It is included in many combination acne medications.

Always read these ingredient lists carefully before using a new product. If you need help choosing the right acne treatment product for you, make an appointment with a dermatologist.

Frequently Asked Questions


  • How do I know if I am allergic to benzoyl peroxide?

    Do a skin test before you start using benzoyl peroxide on large areas of your face or body. Apply a small amount to a small area of ​​acne for three consecutive days. You can then use it on larger sections of your skin if there are no signs of allergy, such as severe redness, itching, burning, blistering, swelling, or hives.


  • Can I use benzoyl peroxide if I have sensitive skin?

    You may be able to use low concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, around 2.5% to 5%. You can also use a water-based version of the medicine and wash it off instead of leaving it on to avoid irritation.


  • Is it normal for benzoyl peroxide to irritate the skin?

    It is common for the skin to become red and itchy immediately after applying benzoyl peroxide. The inflammation should subside within an hour for most people who have it. Reducing the concentration of benzoyl peroxide you use can help reduce these side effects.


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