If you have mild acne, over-the-counter acne treatments – cleansers, leave-on products and other topicals (applied to the skin) – will usually help keep acne under control.

shutterstock_116292913-1024x689One common active ingredient in these treatments is benzoyl peroxide, available in non-prescription, low concentrations of 2.5% to 5%.

Developed in Canada, benzoyl peroxide is an antimicrobial in use for many decades.

How it works: Kills bacteria (works in a different way to antibiotics). Has some ability to help exfoliate the skin, helping to unplug pores.

Side effects: Mild irritation, dryness, redness, fine scaling. Can cause rare but serious allergic reaction.

Dos & Don’ts: Start with a low concentration of 2.5% as this has been shown to be just as effective on acne but less irritating to the skin than higher concentrations. Wait 10 minutes after washing before applying to lessen irritation. Use a moisturizer. Can bleach or lighten clothing and pillowcases etc, so sleep on white bedding while using.

Expect results: In 6 – 8 weeks.