Benzoyl Peroxide

Reviewed on 7/5/2022

What Is Benzoyl Peroxide and How Does It Work?

Benzoyl Peroxide is a  prescription medication used for the treatment of acne vulgaris and rosacea.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide is available under the following different brand names: Benzac AC Gel, Desquam-X, Benzac AC Wash, Benzac Acne Eliminating Cleanser, BenzEFoam, BPO Creamy Wash Complete Pack, BPO Foaming Cloth, BPO Gel, Clean and Clear Advantage 3-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser, Clean and Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser, Clean and Clear Gel, Clearasil Vanishing Acne Treatment Cream, Lavoclen-4 Creamy Wash, Lavoclen-8 Creamy Wash, NeoBenz Micro, NeoBenz Micro SD, NeoBenz Micro Wash, Neutrogena Benzoyl Peroxide Lotion, Neutrogena Clear Pore Acne Treatment, Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment, Neutrogena Clear Pore Daily Scrub, Pacnex MX, PanOxyl Acne Cleansing Bar, PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash, PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash, Proactiv, Proactiv Advanced Blemish Treatment, Proactiv Renewing Cleanser, Proactiv Repairing, Riax, Zapzyt Acne Treatment Gel, Epsolay

What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Benzoyl Peroxide?

Common side effects of Benzoyl Peroxide include:

  • mild stinging or burning,
  • itching or tingly feeling,
  • skin dryness, peeling, or flaking, and
  • redness or other irritation

Serious side effects of Benzoyl Peroxide include:

  • hives,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat,
  • lightheadedness,
  • severe itching or burning,
  • severe stinging or redness,
  • swelling, and
  • peeling

Rare side effects of Benzoyl Peroxide include:

  • none 

Seek medical care or call 911 at once if you have the following serious side effects:

  • Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, arm or leg weakness, trouble walking, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady, very stiff muscles, high fever, profuse sweating, or tremors;
  • Serious eye symptoms such as sudden vision loss, blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights;
  • Serious heart symptoms such as fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeats; fluttering in your chest; shortness of breath; sudden dizziness, lightheartedness, or passing out.

This is not a complete list of side effects and other serious side effects or health problems that may occur as a result of the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may report side effects or health problems to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What Are Doses of Benzoyl Peroxide?

Adult dosage

Topical gel

  • 2.5% (Proactive Repairing)
  • 4% (BPO Gel)
  • 5% (Benzac AC Gel, Clean and Clear Gel)
  • 8% (BPO Gel)
  • 10% (Benzac AC Gel, Zapzyt Acne Treatment Gel)

Topical lotion

  • 2.5% (Proactive Repairing)
  • 3.5% (Neutrogena Benzoyl Peroxide Lotion)
  • 7% (Proactiv)


  • 10% (PanOxyl Acne Cleansing Bar)

Topical cream

  • 2.5% (Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment, Proactiv)
  • 5% (Epsolay [Rx])
  • 5.5% (NeoBenz Micro, NeoBenz Micro SD)
  • 6% (Proactiv Advanced Blemish Treatment)
  • 7% (Proactiv)
  • 10% (Clearasil Vanishing Acne Treatment Cream, Neutrogena Clear Pore Acne Treatment)

Topical foam

  • 5.3% (BenzEFoam)
  • 5.5% (Riax)
  • 9.5% (Riax)

Topical wash

  • 2.5% (Proactiv Renewing Cleanser)
  • 3% (BPO Foaming Cloth)
  • 3.7% (Neutrogena Clear Pore Daily Scrub)
  • 4% (PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash, Lavoclen-4 Cream Wash)
  • 4.25% (Pacnex MX)
  • 5% (Benzac AC Wash, Clean and Clear Advantage 3-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser)
  • 6% (BPO Foaming Cloth)
  • 7% (NeoBenz Micro Wash)
  • 8% (Lavoclen-8 Creamy Wash)
  • 9% (BPO Foaming Cloth)
  • 10% (PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash, Clean, and Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser)

Topical gel cleanser

  • 2.6% (Benzac Acne Eliminating Cleanser)

Acne Vulgaris

Adult and pediatric dosage

  • Topical formulations: Apply sparingly to affected areas every day after thoroughly washing skin; may gradually increase to twice or thrice a day if needed
  • Topical cleansers: Wash every day or twice daily; decrease frequency or product concentration if excessive dryness occurs


Adult dosage

  • Epsolay 5% cream
  • Apply a pea-sized amount of cream every day in a thin layer to each area of the face (forehead, chin, nose, each cheek) on clean and dry skin; avoid eyes, lips, and mouth

Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows: 

  • See “Dosages”

What Other Drugs Interact with Benzoyl Peroxide?

If your medical doctor is using this medicine to treat your pain, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist first.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide has severe interactions with no other drugs:
  • Benzoyl Peroxide has serious interactions with no other drugs.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide has moderate interactions with the following drug:
  • Benzoyl Peroxide has minor interactions with no other drugs.

This information does not contain all possible interactions or adverse effects. Visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker for any drug interactions. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist about all your products. Keep a list of all your medications with you and share this information with your doctor and pharmacist. Check with your health care professional or doctor for additional medical advice, or if you have health questions or concerns.

What Are Warnings and Precautions for Benzoyl Peroxide?


  • Hypersensitivity

Effects of drug abuse

  • None

Short-Term Effects

  • See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Benzoyl Peroxide?”

Long-Term Effects

  • See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Benzoyl Peroxide?”


  • For external use only; avoid contact with the eyes, lips, mucous membranes, and mouth
  • Skin irritation may occur, characterized by redness, burning, itching, peeling, or possibly swelling; decrease frequency of use or use lower concentration product
  • Concomitant administration with sulfone products (sulfacetamide or dapsone) may result in temporary discoloration (orange/yellow) of facial hair and skin; may avoid by applying products at different times and washing off benzoyl Peroxide before applying other products
  • Stop use if irritation becomes severe
  • Some dosage forms contain benzyl alcohol, which when used in large amounts, may cause fatal gasping syndrome toxicity in neonates
  • Coadministration with other topical acne medications may increase skin irritation and dryness
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure and use sunscreen
  • Avoid contact with hair and dyed fabrics (eg, pillowcases, towels), which may be bleached by this product
  • Serious allergic reactions
    • Rare but serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions or severe irritation reported
    • Instruct patients to stop using their topical acne product and seek emergency medical attention immediately if they experience hypersensitivity reactions (eg, throat tightness, difficulty breathing, feeling faint, or swelling of the eyes, face, lips, or tongue)
    • Also, instruct patients to stop using the product if they develop hives or itching
    • These serious hypersensitivity reactions differ from the local skin irritation that may occur at the product application site (e.g., redness, burning, dryness, itching, peeling, or slight swelling)

Pregnancy & Lactation

  • Use with caution if benefits outweigh risks during pregnancy
  • Lactation
    • Excretion in milk unknown; use with caution

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