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Is Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid Better for the Treatment of Acne?

by Jules Stark
  • Overview

    Acne is a common skin condition that causes pimples to form, usually in areas like the face, neck, back and chest. Many treatments for acne are available, including over-the-counter lotions, gels, soaps and creams with ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
  • Cause

    Pimples form when hair follicles beneath the skin become blocked. According to the National Institutes of Health, the exact cause of acne is unknown, but hormones and stress may play a role.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide

    Benzoyl peroxide may be the most effective treatment for acne, according to the Mayo Clinic. It works by killing the bacteria that causes acne as well as removing dead skin cells and excess oils that can clog pores.
  • Salicylic Acid

    Salycylic acid slows the shedding of cells inside hair follicles and can break down whiteheads and blackheads.
  • Application

    Whichever topical medication you choose, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends dabbing small amounts of the medication on the entire acne-prone area.
  • Warnings

    Benzoyl peroxide can cause redness, dryness, scaling and even minor swelling in some people and may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Salicylic acid is generally milder but may cause some irritation to the skin.

    References & Resources