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Ask the Dermatologist: Benzoyl Peroxide

Zits. Pimples. Whiteheads. Whatever you want to call them, we all just want them to get lost. There are many acne treatments out there right now, but which one is right for you? And can you use more than one?

Dr. Kellie Reed

We went tracking down answers and wound up in Austin, Texas, where dermatologist Dr. Kellie Reed tells us some of the best tacos on the planet can be found. Dr. Reed particularly has a passion for helping people with acne, eczema and psoriasis at Sanova Dermatology.

Just like tacos, the American Academy of Dermatology says treating acne can involve a mixture of ingredients or products. Treatments that work on top of the skin include Benzoyl Peroxide, salicylic acid, or a retinoid treatment. Dr. Reed says she recommends a variety of these treatments and a combination approach to treating acne can be particularly effective.

Retinoids and salicylic acid focus more on the skin’s surface. Dr. Reed says, “[They] help primarily with skin turnover (exfoliation) and are anti-inflammatory.”

PanOxyl is a Benzoyl Peroxide wash. “It kills bacteria in the hair follicles and is mildly comedolytic,” explains Dr. Reed. This means it helps stop blemishes that form due to excess oil and skin cells getting trapped in your pores.

 

Dr. Reed says she recommends PanOxyl almost daily to her patients. “If a patient is new to Benzoyl Peroxide, I will recommend starting every other day and increasing to one to two times a day as the skin tolerates. For some, it can be too irritating if too much is used too frequently in the beginning.”

As far as how to use Benzoyl Peroxide? “Less is more when it comes to applying topicals! I recommend leaving [a Benzoyl Peroxide wash] on the skin a few minutes prior to rinsing it off.”

If you’re still not sure what products you should use, or if nothing you’ve tried is working, don’t be afraid to make an appointment with a dermatologist. Dr. Reed recommends seeing a board-certified dermatologist even for mild acne. “We love helping patients achieve their skin goals and help improve their acne! Don’t wait until your acne is scarring your skin prior to seeking help!”

Dr. Reed recommends a few simple steps to jump-start your acne treatment.

  • Don’t forget to wash your face!
  • Choose a gentle cleanser and alternate with an acne specific product to start as your skin gets used to the medicated face wash
  • Moisturize your skin twice daily (even if you have oily skin!)
  • Choose a moisturizer with sunscreen for the morning
  • If you wear makeup, be sure to remove it daily

“Skin is beautiful,” Dr. Reed writes. “It’s the largest organ of our bodies. Start taking care of it at an early age – sun protection, sunscreen, treating acne (to minimize permanent scarring) – you will thank yourself in the future.”

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