What Are the Most Common Benzoyl Peroxide Side Effects?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2014
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Benzoyl peroxide is often used to clear up acne, but many patients experience some side effects during treatment. The majority of the most common benzoyl peroxide side effects are topical, affecting only the facial skin. For example, it is considered normal to observe dry skin that feels tender and appears red after applying this type of acne treatment. More serious side effects include blistering and crusting, along with acne that seems to actually get worse after the application of benzoyl peroxide. On the other hand, those who are allergic to this medication may notice more than just topical side effects, as they might even find it difficult to breathe.

Certain side effects of benzoyl peroxide only show up at the beginning of treatment, and will disappear as the skin gets used to the medication. For example, it is considered typical for the skin to feel dry and slightly irritated after this drug is applied. It may feel tender and look red during this time, as well. Unfortunately, some people also notice that their skin begins peeling as it slowly gets used to the medication, though they should also observe that their acne is gradually disappearing at the same time. Due to the occurrence of these mild benzoyl peroxide side effects, many patients are advised by their doctor to only apply the medication every other day until their skin becomes accustomed to it.


There are patients who notice more extreme side effects that are difficult to ignore. The skin may begin to blister or crust, and may have a constant red shade to it. Not surprisingly, a red face may be accompanied by a feeling of warmth, as well as a stinging sensation. These side effects of benzoyl peroxide should typically be reported to a doctor, especially if it seems that the acne has not started clearing up. In fact, some people notice that their acne becomes even worse, which may indicate that this is not the best medication for them.

While some benzoyl peroxide side effects are considered minor, and even to be expected, others are signs of an allergy, meaning that certain patients should stop taking the drug immediately. For instance, developing hives, a red rash across the face, or a constant feeling of itchiness is not typically considered normal. This is especially true if these side effects are accompanied by a tight sensation in the chest that makes it difficult to breathe, as well as dizziness. Such benzoyl peroxide side effects usually indicate an allergy, and typically call for immediate medical attention.


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Post 3

Another side effect of benzoyl peroxide is sensitivity to sunlight and other skin products.

I think that benzoyl peroxide is great for acne but when I use it, my skin peels and fresh skin comes up. This fresh skin is very sensitive so if I go outside without protecting my face with a hat and sun protection cream, I get a terrible sunburn.

I also cannot use any other harsh product on my face when I'm using benzoyl peroxide because it will irritate my skin. I only use a very mild face wash when I'm using benzoyl peroxide.

Post 2

@anamur-- Swelling, itching and hives are symptoms of allergies. Most serious side effects of benzoyl peroxide are symptoms like redness, mild peeling and irritation. Swelling and itching are sure signs of an allergy. You should stop using it.

Post 1

Are swelling, itching and redness symptoms, side effects of benzoyl peroxide products or is it an allergic reaction?

I started using benzoyl peroxide three days ago and my face is red, slightly swollen and itchy ever since. I know that benzoyl peroxide has a lot of side effects but I'm afraid that I'm having allergic reaction. I don't know if I should continue the treatment or stop.

Does anyone have experience with benzoyl peroxide products? What do you think I should do?

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