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allergy or sensitivity/irriation from benzoyl peroxide?

Posted by rocknerd1224

After using benzaclin for YEARS, I stopped it briefly because I thought it was not working. I went to a derm to seek help for large pimples and she gave me samples of Atrelin.  Unfortunately, after 4 days of use, my forehead (the only place I was putting it to begin) developed sheets of bumps.  I know people say "your acne will get worse before it gets better," but this looked quite unusual for "acne." So, I explored the ingredients of the vehicle in atrelin and discovered benzyl alcohol, something I know, from previous experience causes me to have an allergic response.  I quickly stopped the Atrelin, and went back to the derm in a panic.  Meanwhile, my skin had gotten overly sensitive to EVERYTHING.  It seemed that every face wash, shampoo, cosmetic, etc, would exacerbate it, and so I returned looking for a new regimen.  However, the derm said that she had never seens anyone allergic to Atrelin and had no real advice to give me other than to start me on oral antibiotics (doxycyline) for a month.  I took the meds and also started the Benzaclin again.  Gradually, the bumps subsided and my real acne improved, good news, yes, but then another monster reared its head.  My skin was VERY dry, red, and peely, but I knew that those were typical side effects, but I continued to use Benzaclin since it was working for the acne.  I took a vacation to NY, and seemed to be doing fine until the last two days.  I admit, I changed my make up a bit and slept in an apartment full of dust and dog hair (all which may have triggered allergy), but I woke up one morning with my face swollen, expecially my forehead, nose and cheeks (esp the area below my eyes).  I took benedryl and it seemed to help, but as soon as I went outside, walked over the gym, and worked out, my face begin to swell again.  I had to take MORE antihistamines which helped a bit.  The following day, it seemed that the reaction I had had gone away, but then as soon as I went to the gym and started working out, the swelling started up again.  My conclusion was that the benzaclin/benzoyl peroxide was reacting with the sweat or that I was simply allergic to benzoyl peroxide.  However, I am not SURE it's an allergy since it doesn't necessarily itch or turn to hives, but the swelling and help by benedryl seem suspiciously allergy.  It was also extremely cold and windy in NY, so perhaps my face got VERY irriated and now is sensitive to benzoyl peroxide? I am trying to start it again with a lower BP percentage but I kind of feel like I have some light swelling occuring (i feel pressure behnind my eyes and cheeks) But for me, that still does not explain the hlep of benedryl or claritin.  I am frustrated because Benzaclin was the one thing that helped my acne.  Is there something I should do to reduce my response? I have tried so many things, and don't know where to go anymore!
Answers (5)
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I have nearly the same reaction to BP! It practically corrosively burns my skin, and my face gets really red and swollen. I also experience the pressure behind my eyes that you described. Hmmm. The only thing I've had any sort of luck with as an acne treatment has been Crest Maximum Strength sensitivity protection Mild mint toothpaste. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it seems to work for me. I just put it over the areas affected by acne and let it dry on my face before I go to bed. I don't know why, but it does an especially good job of getting rid of the redness from acne. I hope this helps at least a little :)

Yikes!  Definitely sounds like you have developed an allergy.  I would see your doctor for an allergy test to be sure.  Repeated use of the allergen will only increase your body's response!

I have seen reactions like you have described with others that have used BPO.  This is why I very rarely have my acne clients using it!  I have found awesome results with ance with a product like called Osmosis.  They use a form of vitamin A called Retinaldehyde which will not cause the irritation that Retin A does in some people.  Their product called Clarify has really helped my acne clients (including my husband!).  The nice thing about the products is that they blend them with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. 

Before getting started on any new skin care routine, I would suggest waiting until the inflammation goes down.  Your skin is in a super reactive state and anything you put on it could cause a reaction, even if it normally would not.  

If you have any questions or would like additional product recommendations please visit my site for a complimentary skin consult.

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I am VERY allergic to anything "benz," including benzoyl peroxide, oxybenzone and avobenzone found in most sunscreens, etc. This same benz root is also found in some adhesives (such as that used for steri strips in hospitals) and lots of makeup and skincare products. I have yet to find a true solution to it. My reaction gets so bad, it takes 6 weeks or more to resolve, going through predictable stages...under skin pressure and burning, itching, rash, bumps turn to blisters, blisters burst, dry/bleed/peel...eventually clearing up. There is no stopping this reaction once I come in contact with "benz" other than to take prednisone. Even if I wash the area thoroughly or anything else to get rid of the benz. I am so allergic if someone has sunscreen on and touches my child, and I touch them a couple hours later, I will react.

Over the years I have learned to identify the symptoms, which interestingly enough don't begin for several hours after coming in contact, and if I take the prednisone right away, I can usually get away with taking it just a couple times for a day or two and stop the reaction right away.

If I come in contact with a LOT of benz, for example going to Cancun and getting in the pool, the swim up bars, the lounge furniture which is positively covered with sunscreen, it took a couple weeks of prednisone to clear that!

This is obviously not a great solution. It is steroids and requires a prescription, and I'd rather not put it into my body. But I have yet to find any other solution. I worked with a wonderful allergy doctor who helped me determine what I was allergic to and helped me to manage the situation so I could put as little prednisone into my system as possible.

If you react that way to benzoyl peroxide, I would try a small amount in an isolated area of some of the other "benz" products (especially as an active ingredient) and see if you get the same reaction. Not that I know the cure, but that would at least help identify what you might be allergic to.

Good luck.

Hi.. I had the same problem and someone told me about BFF acne treatment. It doesn't have benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. I tried it for about two weeks and saw some good improvement. You can order a free sample from their website and they give a 60 day money back guarantee.

NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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