I'm Allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide. How Can I Treat Acne?

Benzoyl Peroxide-Free Acne Treatment Options You Can Safely Use

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the more common acne treatment ingredients.  But if you're allergic to benzoyl peroxide, don't worry.  There are plenty of other acne treatment medications that you can use that are just as effective, and are benzoyl peroxide-free.

Some People Can't Tolerate Benzoyl Peroxide

True benzoyl peroxide allergies are very rare.  In those people, benzoyl peroxide can cause itching, swelling of lips, tongue, or throat, hives, and trouble breathing.

More common is a a nasty rash called contact dermatitisYou'll get redness, swelling, and oozing blisters.  If you have a history of eczema, beware.  You're more likely to have a bad reaction to benzoyl peroxide.

Dry, Peeling Skin Isn't Necessarily an Allergy to Benzoyl Peroxide

Here's something to note: dry, red, and flaky skin doesn't necessarily mean you're allergic to benzoyl peroxide.  Side effects like dryness, slight redness and itching, minor peeling are actually quite normal and typically don't mean that you have to stop using the medication. 

Not sure if what you're experiencing is normal or something to be worried about?  This article: Am I Allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide?  will help you decide.  Of course, if you're concerned you should make a call to your physician.

Benzoyl Peroxide is Common—Read Those Ingredient Lists Carefully

But when you just can't tolerate benzoyl peroxide, you'll be glad to know you have other options.

First, when choosing an over-the-counter acne product, take a careful look at the ingredient listings.  Typically, benzoyl peroxide will be listed as the active ingredient.  Be aware that occasionally benzoyl peroxide is listed as BPO.

And if you're buying a three- or four-step kit, make sure you check the ingredients on every product in that kit before putting it on your skin.


Benzoyl Peroxide-Free Acne Treatment Options

So, now that we've successfully ruled out benzoyl peroxide, you're looking for over-the-counter acne treatment products that contain these ingredients:

These ingredients will give you the best results you can get with an OTC product, without using benzoyl peroxide.

Of course, you can always hit the dermatology office for an effective BPO-free acne treatment.  Just let your derm know you can't tolerate benzoyl peroxide, and let them do the rest.

Some prescription options that are benzoyl-peroxide free include:

Be aware that some prescription medications contain benzoyl peroxide, even though the names don't give it away.  Duac and Acanya come to mind.  This is why it's important to let your dermatologist know about any allergy or sensitivity you have.

So even though you can't use benzoyl peroxide, you can still get effective acne treatment products without the BPO. 


Bulinckx A, Dachelet C, Leroy A, Goossens A, Tennstedt D, Baeck M.  "Contact dermatitis to the combination gel of adapalene 0.1% and benzoyl peroxide (PBO) 2.5%."  Eur J Dermatol. 2012 Jan-Feb;22(1):139-40.

Felton SJ, Orton D, Williams JD. "Benzoyl peroxide in topical acne preparations: an underreported contact allergen?"  Dermatitis. 2013 May-Jun;24(3):146-7.

Ockenfels HM, Uter W, Lessmann H, Schnuch A, Geier J.  "Patch testing with benzoyl peroxide: reaction profile and interpretation of positive patch test reactions."  Contact Dermatitis.  2009 Oct;61(4):209-16.

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