Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) is one of the most common ingredients found in acne medications. Topical treatments that contain BPO help to improve acne by:
- Reducing surface bacteria that contributes to acne (antimicrobial)
- Reducing the swelling of acne lesions (anti-inflammatory)
- Shedding the outer layer of skin (keratolytic)
The FDA has ruled that BPO is safe – not carcinogenic and not harmful to DNA. However, because of its exfoliation properties, BPO may irritate sensitive skin and increase sensitivity to the sun. BPO-containing products should be used with care because they can bleach hair and fabrics. Benzoyl peroxide can be effective for treating mild to moderate acne and it is frequently combined with other acne medications and approaches.