Is Benzoyl Peroxide still safe to use for Acne?

Benzoyl peroxide is found in both prescription and over-the-counter acne preparations. A recent study and independent research has proven the Benzene has been found in many products that contain Benzoyl Peroxide. Benzene is a chemical that is known to cause cancer.

Question #1: How did benzene get into these products?

There are two ways this can occur. Firstly, it can be a contaminant that is added by error during manufacturing. This has NOT been found to the be the case with these acne products.

The second way this can happen is when chemicals break down they can form Benzene. This appears to be the case for these products. Heat accelerates this process greatly.

Question #2: Is benzoyl peroxide safe to use?

This is a difficult one to answer today. We have no control of what happens to the products once they are bottled and get into the patients hands. They can be stored in a hot warehouse for months. They can be on a shipping container from another country. So during this time, benzene can form within the unopened tube or bottle. We only have control over what happens once a patient picks up the product. So in short, we do not know how safe these products are until further testing is done or changes are made to how these products are stored.

Question #3: What should you do?

I recommend that one discuss this with their Dermatologist. In some cases, an alternative medication may be recommended. For most, it is currently recommended that one store these products in the refrigerator between use. Patients should never leave these products in a hot car. It is best that one does not keep or use these products after 3 months (preferred), but no longer than 6 months.

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Robert S. Bader, M.D., Dermatologist