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New 4 part review of Acne Treatment - this week - symptoms and "over the counter" treatments

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Acne Treatment Part 1


Acne Vulgaris is a disorder of skin glands that produce a natural oil (Sebum). The face, neck, shoulders, upper chest, and back are most frequently affected. It affects more than one in two young adults at some stage, usually beginning at puberty and clearing completely before the mid-twenties.




Definitions and terms used for symptoms of acne

Lesion is an overall term that can describe the different bumps caused by acne and include:

  • Papules: raised bumps
  • Pustules: raised bump often known as a pimple and filled with yellowish fluid known as pus; pus contains sebum (oil) that gets trapped in the pores mixed with dead skin cells and bacteria
  • Comedones: raised bumps that can form blackheads and whiteheads
  • Nodules: this is a bump under the skin which may not be visually obvious to someone else but can be painful.
  • Cysts: look like a boil and can be filled with pus.


Over the counter products


Benzoyl Peroxide


Benzoyl peroxide works by:

  • Preventing dead skin plugging hair follicles.
  • Unblocking skin pores and speeding-up the production of new skin cells.
  • Killing bacteria on the skin that cause plugged follicles to become infected. This reduces antibiotic resistance when benzoyl peroxide is used with antibiotics.

Studies show that Benzoyl peroxide may improve acne more rapidly than topical retinoids.


Availability of benzoyl peroxide

From 2012, most benzoyl peroxide products were discontinued by manufacturers. Acnecide® gel contains 5% benzoyl peroxide is the only benzoyl peroxide product available in pharmacies in Ireland


Preventing side effects of benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide should be used in moderation and not long term. A six-week course of treatment with benzoyl peroxide is required to clear acne. Drying and peeling of the skin can occur; drying and peeling can be prevented by reducing the frequency (e.g.) every second day. Those with sensitive skin can reduce application from twice daily to once daily before going to bed.


Benzoyl peroxide increases sensitivity to sunlight so when in strong sun, sunscreen is advised. Avoid contact with hair, clothes, towels, and bed linen, as benzoyl peroxide may bleach these. Wash hands after applying benzoyl peroxide products to prevent skin irritation or inadvertently rubbing in eyes.


Go to a GP if:

  • The acne is severe, angry looking, inflamed, or widespread.
  • No improvement despite the correct use of benzoyl peroxide
  • Any suspected case of medication-induced acne.


To be continued…Next week


For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans Pharmacies, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).


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