Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid? Do you know what the difference is? Which one is better for your acne? If you struggle with acne whether it be ongoing or just when “flo” comes to visit, you know how frustrating it can be. Aside from topical retinoids what is the next best thing and something you can buy over the counter at a reasonable cost?
Benzoyl Peroxide: kills the bacterium that causes acne. It works as a peeling agent, thus increasing the skin’s turnover and clearing pores. The bacterial count found on the skin is lessened as well since this agent also works to reduce P. Acnes (the bacteria that causes skin breakouts). Benzoyl Peroxide also “dries up” existing skin blemishes. You can find BP in strengths ranging from 2.5% to 10%. Research indicates that products with concentrations over 2.5% aren’t much effective and they’re usually much harsher on the skin.
Side effects: When using Benzoyl Peroxide you may experience some initial dryness and irritation. Normally the skin will develop a tolerance to the product after a week or two of use. A small number of people will be much more sensitive to this agent and can suffer some burning, itching, peeling and even swelling after application.
Excessive drying of the skin can make acne worse. Also, when first starting out with Benzoyl Peroxide, you should begin by using the product on alternating days so that your skin has time to adjust.
Salicylic acid: is a beta hydroxyl acid (BHA) that is derived from the bark of the willow tree. It is a key ingredient in many skin-care products found on the market today. The medicinal properties of this agent have been known since ancient times as a means of fever relief and also as an anti-inflammatory drug. Today, it is used to treat acne, psoriasis, dandruff, calluses, corns, keratosis pilaris and warts. It works as a peeling agent to treat and prevent acne by causing your skin’s cells to shed more easily, preventing the pores from clogging up and allowing room for new skin cell growth. The Salicylic Acid penetrates the oil filled pores and then exfoliates any dead skin cells that have built up inside. This helps reduce irritation and inflammation, while also breaking down whiteheads and blackheads. Salicylic Acid is available in different concentrations in the various skin care products available to the general public. The approved range of Salicylic Acid for acne treatment is between 0.5% and 2%.
Side effects: The most common side effect is dryness, though this is normally very mild. If the skin appears scaly however, you should apply a light oil-free moisturizer following the application of the product containing Salicylic Acid. The skin can also become irritated for some who use products with this agent. If you experience some mild irritation after using Salicylic Acid you should use the product less frequently. If the irritation is severe or continues even with infrequent application you should stop using the product completely.
Some products don’t work well with Salicylic Acid, leaving the skin excessively dry or irritated. These products should be avoided and include harsh soaps/cleansers, alcohol-containing preparations, other acne treatments containing peeling agents (resorcinol, sulfur, tretinoin, or Benzoyl peroxide), drying cosmetics or soaps, medicated cosmetics, and other topical skin medications.