When it comes to acne solutions, everyone seems to be a fan of at-home DIY treatments which you can do in your pajamas while you’re sipping your bedtime tea. However, not all home treatments are created equally, which is why it’s important to carefully select which ones we try out for ourselves. Some of them can do more harm than good, and those you should definitely stay away from.
Which brings me to today’s topic – can hydrogen peroxide work on acne? Before we give a definite answer, we must first establish what hydrogen peroxide is and how it can treat acne.
You’re probably already using this at-home remedy for some kind of household chore, whether it’s as an antiseptic or a disinfectant. It’s a very common ingredient in many conventional cleaning and household products. That’s because it works amazingly as an antimicrobial and antibacterial product. On top of that, it’s used to prevent many infections as well as to treat some skin conditions such as cuts, burns, and scrapes. Some people even use it as a mouthwash in order to remove build-up mucus, help with some dental problems and relieve bad breath.
It’s usually available at a strength of three percent. For safety reasons, doctors don’t recommend using anything higher than that.
Now that we’ve seen all the benefits of using hydrogen peroxide, let’s get into the subject we’ll be covering today: how does hydrogen peroxide work on acne?
Acne is a skin condition which occurs when the hair follicles on the skin become congested with excess sebum, dead skin cells and acne-causing bacteria called P.acnes. All of these factors combined contribute to the appearance of many types of acne, including papules and cystic acne. Sometimes, if acne isn’t treated properly, it can leave behind pesky acne scars and marks. These are even more difficult to deal with than the acne itself, which is why it’s crucial to nip acne in the bud and act on them as soon as they appear, combining effective skincare products with a solid skincare routine, and sometimes including even oral medication.
Hydrogen peroxide works on acne by treating the pimple immediately once the substance is applied on the face. Since it has many antibacterial properties, it can directly treat the bacteria that are causing acne in the first place. When hydrogen peroxide is applied on the skin, it immediately oxidizes, which means that it releases the oxygen atom. When the oxygen atom is on the skin, it creates an environment in which bacteria can’t survive, leaving the pimple bacteria-free. Once the bacteria are removed from the spot, the pimple will get a chance to heal itself at a more rapid pace than it would normally, without any additional complications.
Similarly to Retin A, hydrogen peroxide also has the ability to peel the first layer of the skin, which means that it also works as a gentle natural exfoliator. By exfoliating the skin on a regular basis, you’re protecting your skin from any pimples which might appear in the future.
It seems like hydrogen peroxide is a great tool for keeping acne at bay. Let’s explore all the options of how it can be used topically on the skin.
If you do decide to give hydrogen peroxide a try, then make sure to dilute it before it goes anywhere near your skin. By doing so, you’re minimizing the chances of any skin damage or burn. As we’ve mentioned before, the most common concentration in which hydrogen peroxide comes is 3 percent. Optimally, for topical skin application, it should be diluted to about 1 percent.
So, how should you go about this? Well, all you need to do is take three tablespoons of water and mix it with one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide, the ratio always being 3:1. Once you mix them together, the concoction is ready for application.
If you want to use hydrogen peroxide as a face mask, you should take the mixture you’ve diluted initially and apply a thin layer of it on your skin, avoiding the eyes, lips, brows, and hairline. Let it sit for five minutes on your face and then wash it off thoroughly. This face mask can be used a few times a week, but if you do notice any negative side effects such as burning, itching or redness then do it less often.
You’ve probably already come across some at-home pimple remedies which feature baking soda in them. Similarly to hydrogen peroxide, baking soda has amazing benefits for the skin. It helps with pimples and blackheads by removing dead skin cells and cleaning your pores inside-out. By combining baking soda with hydrogen peroxide, you’ll be giving your skin a real treat.
For this face mask you’ll need:
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add a couple of drops of water in order to form a paste. Once the mixture is ready, apply it on your face avoiding the sensitive areas like the eyes and lips. Let it sit for around 5 minutes and then wash it off with warm water. Apply a moisturizing face cream which will keep your skin hydrated, such as this best-selling wrinkle-free moisturizer.
Lemon juice is an incredibly effective skin-lightening ingredient unless you have really sensitive skin. It can brighten acne scars and marks, leaving your skin healthy and refreshed.
For this face mask, you’ll only need one teaspoon of diluted hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of lemon juice. Combine these two ingredients in a bowl and apply the mixture on a cleansed face. Let it sit for around 10 minutes and then wash it off with warm water. Continue the rest of your skincare routine as you would normally. You can repeat this process twice a week.
Tea tree oil is an amazing spot treatment for the skin. It has amazing antibacterial properties which control the number of bacteria on the skin. Tea tree oil also works wonderfully if it’s applied directly on the pimple and left overnight, or you could also use it in a face mask.
You’ll need the following ingredients for this face mask:
Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl and add enough water if you feel that the mixture will be too strong. Once the mixture is formed apply it on your skin and let it sit for 10 minutes. Afterward, wash your face and apply a moisturizing cream.
Here’s a great option for all the toner lovers out there: a natural, effective toner that needs only two ingredients you likely have in your home already!
Aloe Vera is an extremely calming ingredient for the skin, not to mention it’s full of antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating properties.
You’ll only need two ingredients in order to make this toner: a teaspoon of aloe Vera juice and a teaspoon of diluted hydrogen peroxide. If you want to make a bigger batch, then just increase the quantity of the ingredients but make sure that you keep the same ratio. It’s best to test out how your skin will react to it prior to making bigger batches. Apply the toner on a cleansed skin every night before you go to bed. Or you could also use it as a spot treatment and put it directly on your pimples.
The biggest concern people have with trying out more extreme topical products such as hydrogen peroxide is in regards to the way their skin will react to it. This is especially true for people who suffer from very sensitive skin and have had a bad reaction in the past to other skincare ingredients.
So, what is the verdict? Can hydrogen peroxide cause any damage to the skin?
Some dermatologists claim that even though hydrogen peroxide has some skin brightening properties, it can actually cause you to develop scarring or worsen the existing skin condition. You might be wondering how can a product that’s supposedly so good at treating acne actually cause scarring? The answer lies in the bacteria-killing process.
When hydrogen peroxide kills the bacteria on the skin, along with it certain cells which are called fibroblasts are also killed. These help the skin repair itself, especially when it comes to healing wounds and scars. Once this occurs, it stops the body’s natural ability to rejuvenate itself and create new skin cells which accelerate the healing process.
Some studies even claim that using hydrogen peroxide can increase the inflammation in the body, which, as we all know, contributes to acne. In addition, there is some evidence to conclude that it can cause temporary damage to the skin cells by increasing oxidative stress.
Since there’s no way to determine how your skin will react to the product, should those who have sensitive skin types just not try it in the first place? Well, there might be a way to test it out without it causing havoc on your skin. Before trying it out on its own or through a face mask, make sure to do a patch test first. A patch test is when you put the product you’re trying out on a small area on your face and wait at least 24 hours before concluding whether your skin agrees with it and continuing to the rest of the face. That way, you’ll get the chance to see your skin’s reaction first-hand, but without sacrificing a large area of your skin. Dermatologists recommend doing a patch test before applying any new topical treatment on your skin, just so that you’re on the safe side.
What if your skin has a bad reaction to hydrogen peroxide? Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Acne has more to do with your genes and lifestyle choices than the products you use on your skin. sure, some skincare products might cause you to break out, but that’s only temporary. The key to keeping acne away for good is reexamining your lifestyle choices. Including more vegetables and fruits in your diet will bump up your antioxidant and vitamin intake, which will help the body fight the oxidative stress. Exercise is a major stress reliever, so make sure you work out at least three times a week. Having a regular sleeping pattern is also crucial for a healthy complexion.
If you’re looking for other ingredients which might be a good alternative to hydrogen peroxide, you can try out benzoyl peroxide, Retin A or sulfur.
Since we’re talking about a harsh chemical, it goes without saying that there are a few potential side effects which might occur after you’ve applied hydrogen peroxide topically.
The most common side effects include:
A rarer, but very serious occurrence is an allergic reaction to hydrogen peroxide. If you notice any of the following: rash accompanied by itching, swelling in the face or tongue, dizziness and trouble breathing then seek medical attention immediately.
If you notice any side effects which aren’t mentioned here, make sure you contact your doctor and stop using hydrogen peroxide on your skin.
Hydrogen peroxide is considered safe to use during pregnancy, but consult your doctor if you’re planning on breastfeeding.
Hydrogen peroxide can be a very effective spot treatment and natural exfoliator. There are some perks for the skin that come with it, like speeding up the healing process of the pimple and getting rid of dead skin cells. However, as with any other product, it can potentially lead to skin damage, dryness and irritation, which is why it’s best to use a patch test before trying it out on your whole face.
So, will you be trying hydrogen peroxide as a part of your skincare routine?
This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances, and its goal is to offer a general view of the subject. In case you are suffering from a severe case of acne, you should consult with a dermatologist or a certified medical professional.