Do You Have a Benzoyl Peroxide Allergy?

Benzoyol Peroxide Allergy Symptoms Vs. Normal Benzoyl Peroxide Side Effects

Benzoyl peroxide allergy
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Benzoyl peroxide is an incredibly common ingredient in both over-the-counter acne treatment products as well as prescription acne medications.  If you have acne, there's a good chance that you've tried a benzoyl peroxide treatment at some point.

As effective as an acne treatment as benzoyl peroxide is, it can sometimes make your skin feel not-so-great.  Could you be allergic to benzoyl peroxide?  Knowing how to differentiate between a benzoyl peroxide allergy and typical side effects will help you save your skin, and keep your acne treatment on track.

Benzoyl Peroxide Allergy Symptoms

True benzoyl peroxide allergies are not quite as common as people believe. Some people think they are allergic to benzoyl peroxide but are actually experiencing normal side effects of benzoyl peroxide treatment.

Benzoyl peroxide does cause dryness, redness, and peeling to some degree. So, how do you know if you are truly allergic to benzoyl peroxide or if you're simply experiencing common side effects?

Symptoms of benzoyl peroxide allergy include:

  • Severe redness, burning or itching of the skin
  • Serious skin irritation, peeling or cracking
  • Scabbing, blistering or crusting of the skin
  • Swelling of the skin, lips, or tongue
  • Rash or hives

These symptoms will continue to worsen until you stop using benzoyl peroxide.  If you have any of these problems, stop using your benzoyl peroxide treatment immediately and call your physician for advice. 

Normal Benzoyl Peroxide Side Effects

Typical benzoyl peroxide side effects are less severe than an allergy, and usually aren't anything to worry about.


Normal side effects of benzoyl peroxide are:

  • Dry skin
  • Minor to moderate peeling and flaking
  • Minor redness, itching, stinging or burning, especially immediately after application

Side effects are generally worse during the first few weeks you're using benzoyl peroxide.  As your skin builds up a tolerance to the medication, you should notice the worst of the redness, peeling, and flaking diminish.


Benzoyl peroxide always causes dryness to some degree, though.  Using a moisturizer daily will go a long way in controlling normal side effects, but won't help at all if you are allergic to benzoyl peroxide.

If you're not sure what you're experiencing is a normal side effect or a true benzoyl peroxide allergy, it's always safest to err on the side of caution -- stop using your medication and give your dermatologist a call.

Benzoyl Peroxide-Free Acne Treatment Medications

If you are truly allergic to benzoyl peroxide, you're not out of luck when it comes to treating your acne.  There are many other acne treatment options to help clear your skin that are benzoyl peroxide free: Benzoyl Peroxide-Free Acne Medications You Can Safely Use.

Always be careful when choosing and using other acne medications, since benzoyl peroxide is a common ingredient in acne medications (both over-the-counter and prescription) and many skin care products made for acne. Read those ingredient lists before using any new product!

Next steps:

Tips for Using Benzoyl Peroxide

Help! Benzoyl Peroxide is Making Me Peel!

Your Week-by-Week Guide to Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment

What To Expect from Your New Acne Treatment


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Kim C, Craiglow BG, Watsky KL, Antaya RJ.  "Allergic Contact Dermatitis to Benzoyl Peroxide Resembling Impetigo."  Pediatr Dermatol.  2015 Jul-Aug;32(4):e161-2.

Mohammad TF, Burkart CG.  "Acne therapeutics: a closer look at benzoyl peroxide."  Skinmed.  2015 Mar-Apr;13(2):94-6.

Veraldi S, Brena M, Barbareschi M.  "Allergic contact dermatitis caused by topical antiacne drugs."  Expert Rev Clin Pahrmacol.  2015;8(4):377-81.

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