Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

What You Should Know Before Buying Panoxyl Acne Treatment

By Dr. Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC, Double board-certified dermatologist

Panoxyl acne management products 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, the Panoxyl acne foaming wash and soap-free bar. But do they really work?

panoxyl acne foaming wash
PanOxyl products contain benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient used to kill acne bacteria.

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 be too harsh for most people.
  • More effective acne management treatments use lower levels of benzoyl peroxide to avoid irritating skin and causing more problems.

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 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 are 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 is also used to fight bacterial infections. Benzoyl peroxide became a popular skin treatment because it breaks down to release both chemicals.

Numerous clinical studies found that 2.5% to 10% benzoyl peroxide creams and lotions kill most acne bacteria in about 48 hours. However, studies have shown that high concentrations of benzoyl peroxide do not significantly improve acne treatment’s effectiveness. That’s why effective acne products will use lower levels of benzoyl peroxide combined with soothing ingredients to keep the skin in the best condition without irritating it further.

Q. Do I need a prescription to get benzoyl peroxide?

A. 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 makes a variety of different over the counter acne-treating products, with two facial cleaners: a creamy wash or 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.

To see results within 30 days, use a skincare routine that combines powerful ingredients like benzoyl peroxide with healing natural botanicals. For example, Exposed Skincare’s Basic Kit includes an Acne Treatment Serum with 3.5% benzoyl peroxide. This low, yet still potent level of benzoyl peroxide is made more effective by pairing it with tea tree oil and green tea extract, helping to calm and heal skin.

Using the five products in the Exposed Basic Kit is guaranteed to achieve clear skin in 30 days or less. Plus, if it doesn’t work, you can return it and get your money back.

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, which may require help from a doctor.

However, Panoxyl is far too strong to use for common acne (acne vulgaris) around the eyes and mouth, where it can cause burning and inflammation. It may be OK for use on the face, but a product with lower levels of benzoyl peroxide would be safer and more effective.

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 advises its customers on the following:

  • Use sunscreen and avoid getting too much sun.
  • If you use more than one acne treatment at the same time, you are more likely to develop skin irritation.
  • Keep their product off your clothes, because it can bleach colors.  This bleaching effect can cause your bedding, towels, clothing and hair to lighten.
  • 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.
Sunscreen with Panoxyl
Always use sunscreen while using Panoxyl, which you should be doing anyways.

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 3.5% product, such as Exposed Acne Treatment Serum) 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, you may 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.

Q. Is it better to use a foaming cleanser or a bar cleanser?

The inactive ingredients in the Panoxyl acne foaming wash include AHAS, cornstarch, and oils containing a drying cleansing agent. The oils help with the drying properties of the cleansing agent, but are hard to rinse off. As well, the AHAS are washed off during the rinsing process and end up going down the drain. Panoxyl cleanser can make your skin confused while at the same time possibly making the acne worse.

Salicylic acid BHA is usually the preferred acne medication. For a more effective Facial Cleanser, use one with salicylic acid to deep clean pores, plus sage extract and pro-vitamin B5 to calm irritation.

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.

That’s why we recommend 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. Plus, the ingredients in Exposed are responsibly sourced and of exceptional quality, so you don’t have to worry about things like sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, formaldehyde and synthetic fragrances or colors.

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. It may seem like you are getting results from Panoxyl, but if your skin peels more easily than expected when you get too much sun, that’s not a good sign. Make sure to moisturize the skin after the Panoxyl is rinsed off and the skin patted dry with a clean towel, use a good sunscreen and stay out of the sun completely. This could be a sign that Panoxyl is way too strong for your skin, and it’s probably a good idea find a more gentle, yet just as effective, skincare routine.

A Good Moisturizer in Combination with Panoxyl
A good moisturizer may help dryness and peeling.

If you are experiencing peeling, remember: A great skincare routine includes a good moisturizer. Folks who deal with acne should always use an oil-free gel moisturizer to hydrate skin without clogging pores. This Moisture Complex also adds caffeine to reduce redness and pumpkin seed to help calm irritated skin.

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Dina Madan Reply

im 14 and i use panoxyl its good but if i accidently miss a day i break out completely! why is that?

September 25, 2012 at 10:57 am Reply
Cheryl Roseburr Reply

Yes the panoxly 5% bar works really great.

June 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm Reply
Mary Reply

I use the Panoxyl cleanser and cream but this papule acne still isn't gone. It's been almost a month, I reckon. :(

June 30, 2014 at 11:07 am Reply
Andrea Reply

Hi Mary, I've been using Panoxyl 10% foaming wash. It took me a month or so to heal. When I got cleared I had gone through the entire product. When I bought the foam for a second time, the healing was seen sooner. Don't lose hope on this product. Finish the product first, all of it, and then decide if it work for you or not. Remember to use a moisturizer after washing your face. Always moisturize. I use Neutrogena oil-free moisture for sensitive skin. As my face soap I use (I don't remember the name, sorry) a cheap soap that's made of sulfate and glycerin. It sounds odd but it works very well if you have oily skin. Not good for dry skin. Do not wash for face more than three times a day. I wash my face with warm water. Don't rub your face harshly when washing. If the acne itches, try Cortizone 10 (apply after moisturizer only on the breakout) Use aloe mask on your face for healing. Hope it helps!

March 6, 2015 at 12:48 pm Reply
Chris Reply

I've used panOxyl cream (5%) and it really works. i just use itwhen Io have aa big pimple on my face. i just have to put a little of this product to the pimple and in j ust about 7days the pimple the pimple is gone. its very effective

June 12, 2016 at 12:35 am Reply
Dorothy Reply

I am 55 yr. old female African American. I started using Panoxyl foaming wash 1 day ago . My skin is really oily all day so I wash my face again around lunch time using this product. I notice more small bumps coming out more in just one day. Is this normal?My doctor told me to use retinol with this product also.

June 17, 2016 at 8:20 pm Reply
Twila Reply

Bought 10% face wash for small bump outbreak from the summer heat. All of sudden broke out all over face & neck with deep cysts & acne, couldn't figure out why. Kept using until finally had to use a TCA acid to start clearing up. Pretty much my whole face & 1/2 of neck. Few days later went to use PanOxyl again, thinking I need to stay on this & noticed something black in the lid. Never paid attention before, just opened & used. It was black mold! Haven't even used 1/4 of the bottle - threw out! Painful... break out now clearing up. Won't use again.

August 24, 2016 at 12:45 am Reply
Cj Reply

15 years old and used it for 2nd time. Bumps all over my face. Itches so bad. What can I do?

March 6, 2019 at 3:11 am Reply