Hydrogen Peroxide Acne Treatment Guideline

Hydrogen Peroxide for Acne

Acne treatment is a complex undertaking because of the fact that it is a multi-factorial skin condition, with many underlying factors. This means that there are many potential acne cures but at the same time, no single acne cure can work for everyone. This guide investigates the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide acne treatment (for scars, cystic acne, and spots) and finishes off by listing several before and after pictures.

Hydrogen Peroxide Acne Treatment – How it Works

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a strong oxidizing agent with many uses in its aqueous state ranging from bleaching agent to antiseptic and ripening agent among others.

What you perhaps didn’t know is that you can as well use hydrogen peroxide for acne treatment.

Yes, HP is a cheaper, readily available home remedy for acne and an awesome alternative to costly treatments.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Acne Healing – The Connection

HP is composed of water and an extra oxygen atom. When exposed to heat or light, HP readily loses the extra oxygen atom and disintegrates. This explains why it is normally stored in brown bottles.

Hydrogen peroxide has been shown to have broad-spectrum efficacy against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It works by destroying some essential components of the cells of these micro-organisms. It is for this reason that it has a long history of use as a wound disinfectant and in the sterilization of surfaces and tools e.g. surgical tools.

The bacterial activity forms part of the Acne vulgaris equation with dead skin cells and sebum (skin oil) comprising the other part. When these three factors come into play, culminating in clogging of hair follicles, acne lesions (whiteheads, blackheads, papules, cysts etc.) develop. Inflammation of the surrounding cells also causes red spots (blemishes in the affected area).

Hydrogen peroxide acne treatment hinges upon its ability to curb bacterial infection. It is believed that it kills the bacteria by oxidizing the affected area (releasing its oxygen atom when applied to tissues), consequently creating an unfavorable environment for bacterial activity; being anaerobic bacteria, P. acnes bacteria cannot survive in such an environment.

This, in turn, helps to clear the acne breakout. It is also believed that HP dries the area, removing the excess sebum which also contributes to the development of acne lesions.

Hydrogen peroxide can be used for facial acne as well as other forms of acne such as chest and back acne. Just make sure to use it the right way as detailed in the next section.

Important Facts about Using Hydrogen Peroxide for Acne Spots

As a strong oxidizing agent, HP oxidizes not just papers, clothes and hair but also body cells and organs it comes into contact with. In the body it also causes damage to mitochondria in the cells, consequently leading to faster aging. For that reason, you should consider the following points before embarking on your hydrogen peroxide acne treatment regime:

Avoid taking HP orally or by injection. Instead apply it topically to the affected area of the skin.

Avoid large concentrations of HP to be on the safe side: Anything above 3% is too much for the skin; this comes with the risk of skin burn and scarring and the skin may temporarily turn white due to a phenomenon called embolism. Even food grade hydrogen peroxide that is not 3% or below is not suitable for this purpose unless it is diluted accordingly.

Use HP sparingly to avoid excessive drying out of the skin and premature aging. When HP is applied directly to the skin (as opposed to the Crystaderm® cream discussed below), once daily is enough for most cases of acne breakout.

A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology has linked increased hydrogen peroxide production in the body to acne inflammation. Too much of hydrogen peroxide acne treatment could similarly be counterproductive.

Even though it helps heal mild to moderate acne breakouts, hydrogen peroxide may not be an effective long-term cure for acne, especially severe cases. Acne is a multi-factorial skin condition with many factors involved. A treatment approach that only addresses one underlying cause may therefore not be effective in the long-term.

How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Acne Spots on Face, Chest, or Back.

Hydrogen peroxide acne treatment of spots and blemishes is rather straightforward. Here are the steps you will need to follow for effective treatment.

  1. Start by cleaning your face with mild soap and water or a gentle facial cleanser to get rid of dirt and makeup and then pat your face dry with a clean towel.
  2. Soak a cotton ball (or a Q-tip) with hydrogen peroxide and dab it on the acne-affected areas of your skin. While some people suggest using applying HP all over the face, I would advise against it because of its drying effect.
  3. Allow the solution time to work on your skin and once it stops bubbling (usually in a couple minutes or so), rinse it off with water.
  4. Finish by applying a light, oil-free skin moisturizer to curb the drying effect of hydrogen peroxide.
  5. Repeat the process once each day for a few days. For severe acne, you may repeat the process twice a day, in the morning and evening.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Acne Scars

An equally important question that cannot be overlooked is, “Will hydrogen peroxide help lighten or eliminate acne scars?”

Well, first of all, let us start by reiterating that when used incorrectly (that is in high concentrations and too frequently) to treat acne breakouts, hydrogen peroxide may actually cause scarring.

Used correctly, however, it can promote healing of acne lesions and reduce the appearance of acne scars. In addition to hydrogen peroxide, you may as well consider using aloe vera gel to control inflammation which tends to culminate in scarring. Retinoid creams can also help to reduce scarring.

As for those with scars that formed after the acne breakout cleared, hydrogen peroxide acne treatment won’t be of much help as its effectiveness majorly revolves around its antibacterial action. It sure will help an acne breakout but not post-acne scars.

For such scars, you may want to consider other options such as microdermabrasion, exfoliating scrubs, etc.

Hydrogen Peroxide Cream for Acne

There is one major challenge to using hydrogen peroxide for acne treatment. HP is unstable and, in the form of aqueous solutions, breaks down over time. This challenge can be addressed by adding acetanilide or any other similar organic material to stabilize it.

This is the principle behind Crystaderm® (formerly known as Crystacide®) which is arguably the most popular hydrogen peroxide cream for acne. The active ingredient in Crystaderm® is 1% hydrogen peroxide which has been stabilized in a cream comprising of numerous ingredients.

One study showed that Crystaderm is as effective as Benzoyl peroxide in as far as treating acne is concerned.

As the manufacturer reports, in-vitro studies of Crystaderm® cream have shown bactericidal efficacy equivalent to that of 1% hydrogen peroxide solution but longer duration of action for the cream compared to hydrogen peroxide solution. So, is this the ultimate hydrogen peroxide acne treatment? Maybe, maybe not, time will tell.

How to Use Crystaderm® Cream for Acne

  1. Cleanse the face (or any other affected area of the skin) with mild soap and water.
  2. Dab a small amount of the cream on the spots or pimples. Avoid contact with the eyes.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times every day for 3 weeks. You shouldn’t use Crystaderm® for longer than 3 weeks.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is a more severe form of acne and just like other forms of acne (whiteheads, blackheads, nodules, and papules), cystic acne involves bacterial activity in the hair follicles. In that regards, hydrogen peroxide is potentially an effective cystic acne treatment options thanks to its antibacterial action.

Keep in mind however that because of the deep setting of cystic acne lesions, it is usually harder to treat them compared to other types of acne lesions. You may thus not see any change until after a few days of use. It is also possible that HP doesn’t help your cystic pimples at all, so keep an open mind.

To improve the effectiveness of HP, you may consider using it in its cream form (Crystaderm®) alongside aloe vera gel and a retinoid cream.

Hydrogen Peroxide Acne Treatment Before and After Pictures

And as always, let us finish off by listing some before and after pictures thanks to nice internet citizens who were generous enough to share their results in as far as using hydrogen peroxide for acne is concerned.

hydrogen peroxide acne before and after 1 hydrogen peroxide acne before and after 2 hydrogen peroxide acne before and after 3

What is your experience with hydrogen peroxide acne treatment? Share with the community in the comments.