How does this medication work?
Benzoyl peroxide is used to treat acne. It works by killing the bacteria that cause acne, drying the acne pimples, and helping the skin to peel.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Benoxyl is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada. For brands that may still be available, search under benzoyl peroxide topical. This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.
How should I use this medication?
- Benzoyl peroxide products should be used or applied once or twice daily to the affected area or as directed by your doctor. Start with one application daily and increase to twice daily if needed.
- This medication is for external use only. Avoid contact with eyes, nostrils, lips, mouth, or broken skin.
- Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.
- It is very important that this medication be used exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss an application, apply the medication as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next application, skip that missed dose and carry on with your regular schedule. Do not apply more often than prescribed by your doctor.
- Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children.
- Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not take this medication if you are allergic to benzoyl peroxide or any ingredients of the medication.
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- dryness or peeling of the skin (may occur after a few days)
- feeling of warmth, mild stinging, and redness of the skin
Although most of the side effects listed below don’t happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- painful irritation of the skin,
- including blistering,
- severe redness,
- skin rash
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Health Canada has issued new restrictions concerning the use of over-the-counter topical acne products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Prescription-strength products are not covered by this warning. Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Bleaching effect: Benzoyl peroxide may bleach hair or coloured fabrics.
Dry skin: If you experience excessive dryness of skin, stop using this medication and talk to your doctor.
Sun sensitivity: Benzoyl peroxide can increase the sensitivity of your skin to the sun. Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight and do not use sunlamps while you are using this medication. When you are exposed to the sun, be sure to use an adequate sunscreen and wear protective clothing (e.g., hat).
Pregnancy: Benzoyl peroxide should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while using this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known whether benzoyl peroxide passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding. Do not apply this medication near or on the breasts if you are breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children less than 12 years of age.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
Other topical medications that may potentially dry or irritate the skin may affect how benzoyl peroxide works or increase the risk of side effects.
If you are using any medications that fit this description, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or illegal drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.
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