Thursday, March 23, 2023

Various Over-the-Counter Acne Products Linked to Allergic Reactions

Acne products are something people use all of the time, especially the over-the-counter acne products because you can get these products without a prescription. There are some warnings though coming out through Health Canada that say these over-the-counter products have been tied to severe allergic reactions. In some cases, these over-the-counter acne products are even causing life-threatening side effects.

What Acne Products Cause Reactions?

While not all over-the-counter acne products have been linked to dangerous side effects, the products that contain the ingredients benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are what Health Canada is warning people about. Not all over-the-counter products contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, but these two are the most common components in the acne treatments, and in Canada alone over 400 different products with these ingredients are sold in stores. When you look at the products, generally they contain around 2.5 percent to 5 percent benzoyl peroxide and the other products contain around .5 percent to 2 percent of salicylic acid. Whether the products are lotions, soaps, creams or gels, people have been having allergic reactions to the products containing one or both of these ingredients.

benzoyl peroxide acne

The United States Food and Drug Administration determined 131 reports of allergic reactions had happened after someone used benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. When the agency looked into these cases around 50 were anaphylactic reactions, which then prompted the FDA to issue a warning about these ingredients.

If you have an allergic reaction to the ane ingredients you might have a hard time breathing, feel ichy, develop skin irritation, have a hoarse voice, and feel a tightness in your throat. Swelling of teh eyes, face, and lips have also been reported. If there is anaphylactic reaction, this is life-threatening, and should be immediately reported to emergency medical workers, such as by calling 911. If you are unsure whether you are allergic, you also might want to just talk to your doctor and get their opinion before trying the product.

While the FDA issued warnings previously, people are still finding themselves developing these allergic reactions. Health Canada in particular was reviewing the safety of these products and found that 10 people had a reaction to benzoyl peroxide, and 5 of these cases ended up in the life-threatening stage of anaphylaxis. When looking at salicylic acid there were 16 cases reported and 4 of those ended up going into the anaphylaxis stage. There also were two cases reported where both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid were used simultaneously.

The summary Health Canada released said that there is more than enough evidence to support the link between the over-the-counter acne products containing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid and allergic reactions that can even reach life-threatening stages. The agency now wants more sensitivity testing on these products for first time users along with instructions on how to do this, updated warnings with potential side effects, and prohibition warnings for people who have known benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid allergies. It is important that people know before buying the product that just because it is over-the-counter does not mean there is not a risk involved in using or applying the product.

In order for these changes to be implemented, the product makers will be revising their labels to show that over-the-counter acne products can lead to severe allergic reactions in certain people. Obviously, anyone who is encountering an allergic reaction to benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid while using over-the-counter acne products should stop using the product immediately. It is also a good idea if you feel shortness of breath or like you cannot breath to seek medical help right away as this might be a sign you are going into anaphylactic shock.

The biggest thing you can do if you suffer from acne is to make sure that you read the ingredients listed on the over-the-counter products, and do a quick allergy test before you apply said product to your face completely. While the reports of serious allergic reactions are not a majority when you think of how many people use these over-the-counter products, it is something that you should know about before you go and use these products long-term.

Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.


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