Does Panoxyl Really Work to Cure Acne?
Panoxyl acne management products, their manufacturer will tell you, are made with benzoyl peroxide, “the number one dermatologist-recommended” acne care ingredient to penetrate pores and kill the bacteria that cause acne. Panoxyl offers creams and lotions in 4%, 8%, and 10% strength. But do they really work?
This article answers frequently asked questions about Panoxyl acne care, including some issues the company may not really want you to ask about.
- Panoxyl provides products that deliver exactly the ingredients listed on the label.
- The ingredients in Panoxyl acne management products may not really be what your skin needs.
Since all Panoxyl products contain benzoyl peroxide, which used to be abbreviated BP before the oil spill disaster of 2010, but which the manufacturer now abbreviates BPO. Let’s begin with frequently asked questions about this common acne care ingredient.
Q. What is benzoyl peroxide?
A. Benzoyl peroxide actually is, as this unit of pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Smith Kline claims, the number one dermatologist recommended anti-acne ingredient in the world. When you put this chemical on the skin, it breaks down into two compounds, benzoic acid and hydrogen peroxide.
The benzoic acid is the same chemical that gives the distinctive aroma to incense used in religious ceremonies. A traditional skin treatment agent, benzoic acid also is found in bilberries, cranberries, cloudberries, and apples that have fought off a fungal infection, as well as in the urine of the musk ox and Asian bull elephants. (No bilberries, cranberries, cloudberries, or animal urine is used to make Panoxyl products.) Hydrogen peroxide fizzes as it breaks down into water and oxygen.
Q. How does benzoyl peroxide kill acne bacteria?
A. When scientists noticed that plants that bear berries and fruit use natural benzoic acid to prevent their own fungal infections, they began experimenting with this substance as a treatment for skin infections on people. Hydrogen peroxide also was used to fight bacterial infections. Benzoyl peroxide became a popular skin treatment because it breaks down to release both chemicals.
Numerous clinical studies have found that 2.5% to 10% benzoyl peroxide creams and lotions kill most acne bacteria in about 48 hours. Up to 30% benzoyl peroxide may be used to treat acne under a doctor’s supervision, or to dye hair or whiten teeth.
Q. Do I need a prescription to get benzoyl peroxide?
A. Only your doctor can tell you the strength of benzoyl peroxide (if any) that will work best for your acne, but the product is safe enough that it is available over the counter without a prescription in strengths up to 10%. Because this chemical can cause drying and flaking of the skin, and a few users find it itchy and irritating, it is always best to start with the lowest possible concentration of benzoyl peroxide that clears up your pimples.
PanOxyl manufacturers a variety of different over the counter acne-treating products with the facial cleaners presented as a creamy wash or as a foaming wash. The foaming wash has a 10% concentration of benzoyl peroxide, which has proven to be an effective anti-acne medication. While it has been demonstrated that benzoyl peroxide works extremely well when it is left on the skin, research also shows that it offers benefits when used as a cleanser.
Q. How long does it take for benzoyl peroxide to clear up pimples?
A. An honest answer is, “it depends.” The product does a better job of killing bacteria than it does of fighting inflammation and fighting inflammation is an important part of getting rid of acne. It can take pimples two weeks to fade away. Younger skin heals faster than older skin. Sometimes benzoyl peroxide is prescribed by doctors for use in addition to the retinoid Adapalene to keep the retinoid from causing new pimples as it treats old pimples. In these cases, “clearing up” the skin usually takes a month or more.
Q. Can I use Panoxyl for treating any kind of acne?
A. This product is not strong enough to treat cystic acne, acne conglobata, or acne keloidalis nuchae. It is too strong to use for common acne (acne vulgaris) around the eyes and mouth, where it can cause burning and inflammation. It is OK for use on the face, and recommended for use on the neck and back.
Q. Lots of products provide benzoyl peroxide. What’s special about Panoxyl?
A. Some Panoxyl products also contain an ingredient called dimethyl isosorbide, or DMI. This ingredient helps keep the cream stable so that every time you use it, you get the same amount of benzoyl peroxide. It also helps the benzoyl peroxide penetrate the skin. DMI is also used in Coppertone and sun tan lotions to help them penetrate the skin. The idea behind adding DMI to the formula was to make it possible to get deeper into pores with a lower concentration of benzoyl peroxide, reducing the risk of irritation and peeling.
Q. Can anything go wrong if I use Panoxyl?
The company will tell you to use sunscreen and to avoid getting too much sun. They will advise you that if you use more than one acne treatment at the same time, you are more likely to develop skin irritation. They will tell you to be sure to keep their product off your clothes (it can bleach colors). This bleaching effect can cause your bedding, towels, clothing and hair to lighten. Also, since this is a strong medication, it shouldn’t be combined or used with other topical acne applications containing peeling agents, glycolic acid or salicylic acid. Use a lower concentration of their formulas if you experience burning, itching, or peeling skin.
What Panoxyl does not tell you is that some people should not use their products at all. These include:
- If you have rosacea, you should not use Panoxyl or any other product that contains benzoyl peroxide.
- If you have oily, allergy-prone, wrinkled skin, you should start with a lower concentration of benzoyl peroxide (a 2.5% product, such as Proactiv Skin Repairing Lotion) to make sure you do not experience skin inflammation.
- If you have red hair, blue eyes, or fair skin, try a milder product before you use Panoxyl.
- If you’re pregnant – Benzoyl peroxide should not be used by pregnant women unless recommended by a doctor. It is unknown whether this medication can cause harm to an unborn baby.
- If you’re breastfeeding – It is also not clear whether or not benzoyl peroxide can be passed through breast milk to a nursing baby. Consult with your doctor first before using this medication if you are breast-feeding.
- If you’re using a tretinoin product – Severe skin reactions may occur if you use benzoyl peroxide while at the same time using tretinoin (Tretin-X, Renova Altinac, Retin-A, Avita).
Q. Who should use the Panoxyl bar products?
A. If you tend to get brown spots after acne heals, try the Panoxyl Bar 5% for your cleanser. Be sure to leave the lather on your face for no more than 15 seconds and to rinse thoroughly. If your skin is tight, don’t use the 10% bar. If your skin is loose and easily wrinkles when you talk, laugh, or frown, then the Panoxyl Bar 10% is OK for you.
Is it better to use a foaming cleanser or a bar cleanser?
The inactive ingredients in the foaming wash include AHAS, cornstarch, and oils containing a drying cleansing agent. The oils help with the drying properties of the cleansing agent but at the same time they are hard to rinse off. As well, the AHAS are washed off during the rinsing process and end up going down the drain. Salicylic acid BHA is usually the preferred acne medication. This cleanser can make your skin confused while at the same time possibly making the acne worse.
The soap-free PanOxyl bar contains 5% benzoyl peroxide along with sodium potassium lauryl sulfate, which is irritating and drying to the skin. At the same time, the other ingredients that help this bar keep its shape can worsen acne since they are difficult to rinse off. As with the foaming wash above, the benzoyl peroxide will probably have minimum effect because it is simply washed off right after it is exposed to the skin.
All in all, you’re probably better off using a simple acne kit that provides everything skin needs to recover and stay acne-free in most cases, like Exposed Skin Care. Even better, and unlike many products like Panoxyl, it has a true, full money back guarantee.
Q. I bought a case of this stuff and now it looks like it is making my skin peel. I can’t take it back. Do I have to throw my Panoxyl away?
A. If you get good results from Panoxyl but your skin peels more easily than expected when you get too much sun, try using an anti-irritant product like Cutanix Sensitive Skin Moisturizer. Put the moisturizer on the skin after the Panoxyl is rinsed off and the skin patted dry with a clean towel.
If your skin is very dry or sensitive a 10% concentration may be too much for your skin to handle. If you have combination or oily skin and have problems with peeling, you can start using the product slowly since many people are able to build up a tolerance to it in approximately one week.
Start by using the cleanser once daily and then slowly build it up to the 2-3 times recommended. At the same time make sure that you’re not using any other drying skin products along with it.