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An allergic reaction to benzoyl peroxide is rare. If it does happen, the most common signs are extreme cracking, peeling, irritation and swelling of the skin. Other symptoms might include the development of hives or a rash and intense itching, redness and burning on the treated area. If these symptoms appear, a doctor should be consulted, and the patient should immediately discontinues use of the medication. Often, stopping the use of benzoyl peroxide will halt many — if not all — of the symptoms.
Most people who think that they are having an allergic reaction to benzoyl peroxide are simply sensitive to the side effects of the medication. These include mild peeling, drying and redness in the areas where the product has been applied. A good moisturizer usually will alleviate most of these symptoms. Some drying and peeling is actually desirable, because this is one of the ways that the medication helps treat acne. Often, side effects will also subside at least somewhat after the patient has used the product for a while.
There are a lot of similarities between the symptoms of an allergic reaction and common side effects. The key to determining the difference usually is severity. If the condition of the treated area does not improve with the reduction of use and regular moisturizing, then an allergy — or at least hypersensitivity — is possible.
The effects of using too much of the medication can also lead a patient to believe that he or she is experiencing an allergic reaction to benzoyl peroxide. Applying an excessive amount of the product or using it more frequently than advised can result in red, scaly skin. It also might become extremely dry. Usually, cutting back on applications and moisturizing will take care of these problems.
Benzoyl peroxide is a popular treatment for acne. The two primary ingredients work together to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria. Benzoyl helps deliver peroxide to the pores, and its high oxygen content kills bacteria. The medication works only with regular use. It comes in several forms, including creams, gels, body washes, face washes and medicated pads.
This medication should be used with care because of the bleaching properties of the peroxide. It should be kept away from fabric on items such as clothing, furniture and linens. Benzoyl peroxide can also bleach hair with extended contact. To avoid irritation or an allergic reaction to benzoyl peroxide, it should also be kept away from or rinsed off of broken skin, eyes and the inside of the mouth or nose.