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The Use Of Hydrogen Peroxide For Acne

Updated on January 4, 2015

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions affecting up to 50 million people in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The treatment of acne breakouts is important in increasing self-esteem and preventing the formation of scarring and dark spots on the body. Prescription treatments that include hydrogen peroxide are available and useful in treating acne, though some find home remedies, such as the topical application of hydrogen peroxide, to be cheaper and just as beneficial as prescription medications.

Topical application of hydrogen peroxide can help cleanse the skin to keep pores clear of debris. When dead skin cells clog a facial pore, acne strikes. Dead skin cells normally rise to the surface of the skin and are shed by the body. Sometimes, however, those skin cells get trapped within a pore and get stuck together with normal facial oil. Healthy bacteria may also become trapped within the pore, multiplying rapidly and causing redness and swelling to occur. Applying hydrogen peroxide is thought to work to prevent acne through the process of oxidation, the process that makes hydrogen peroxide an effective cleansing product. When applied to the skin, rapid oxidation causes a foaming action to occur, loosening dirt and oil from the face and preventing and cleaning already-formed breakouts.

Hydrogen peroxide also has mild antibacterial properties, which allows it to kill acne-causing bacteria upon contact. Healthy bacteria that normally live on the skin may become trapped within a clogged pore, multiplying rapidly and causing redness and swelling to occur. Hydrogen peroxide can help to destroy the bacteria, preventing acne blemishes from forming or getting worse.

How to apply it to your skin

To treat acne with a simple over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide, cleanse the area with a mild soap or face wash and pat dry. With a cotton ball or other cotton applicator, dab a small amount of three percent hydrogen peroxide on the acne blemishes. Once the fizzing of the peroxide stops, the oxidation process is over. Rinse the area thoroughly with water and, again, pat dry.

What are the side effects?

Side effects of using hydrogen peroxide are varied and little research has been done to determine what long-term risks are involved in using the chemical on the skin. The most commonly reported side effects include mild dryness and skin irritation. These side effects can be remedied by applying an oil-free face moisturizer whenever hydrogen peroxide is used. Some believe that hydrogen peroxide’s strong oxidation may cause free radical damage to the skin. This type of damage is associated with premature aging, including wrinkles, dryness, and uneven complexions. Others believe that most of the processes in the body (including breathing and the body’s response to regular, everyday stress) cause free radicals and that limited hydrogen peroxide use to treat acne is still a good option.

Whether in prescription strength regimens or as a simple home remedy, the benefits of hydrogen peroxide in addressing acne are well known. When used properly and with the necessary lotions to prevent dryness, this household chemical can provide significant relief for this widespread dermatological problem.


The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements.


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